In 1989, the Florida State Legislature created the College of Motion Picture Arts to educate students for careers in the motion picture industry. Within this umbrella mission, the College has further defined its unique educational values to fortify the education of its students in a manner that will allow for a natural integration into the film industry. The key points to these educational values are:
Craft as a path to art
For an artist to truly evolve, they must have a firm understanding of craft. From its inception, the film industry was built on an apprenticeship system and still very much works this way today. The College believes that by beginning with the fundamentals in every area of production and building to the higher forms of expression, every student will become a complete filmmaker, no matter the final career path they choose in the industry.
Hands-on work is essential to real learning, especially in a practical art such as filmmaking. Students must make films in order to learn filmmaking. Coupled with traditional coursework and workshops, the College employs a series of practicum classes that emulate the way movies are made. This, combined with faculty review and evaluation, allows students to be introduced to concepts, apply those concepts, and then critique the strengths and weakness of the outcomes.
Peer teaching and learning
Practicum coursework typically involves students collaborating together in production settings. We believe that this is a valuable asset to students’ education and, to help facilitate it, the College employs a series of required, collaborative assignments that foster peer-to-peer learning. All students are expected to follow a Professional Code of Conduct and, through self-assessments and peer-assessments, students evaluate their own and each other’s professionalism.
History and theory
Great artists know what has come before and why it worked. Just as knowledge is built concept-upon-concept to attain wisdom, so does the lasting voice of an artist depend upon knowing the history of the medium and the conceptual theory behind its long-lasting reach. The College offers unique courses in history and theory, as well as integrated history and theory into each area of the practical production coursework.
The teaching and application of filmmaking techniques and theory are always taught with a direct relationship to the actual practices of the industry. It is not enough just to understand how to make a movie. Students need to understand how movies are made in the context of the industry, learning not only how films are manufactured, but also the details of union protocols and set operations. Students also need to know the business of the business: the development, financing, marketing, and distribution of films. Films are made for audiences, and to reach those audiences filmmakers need to understand how the business works.
Level playing field
As an essential component of the College mission, we strive to provide a level playing field for all student productions as related to the scope and equality of each student’s education. Each student is given equal access and opportunity to use resources and lab space, as well as access to the faculty. To ensure equality, the College institutes parameters such as shooting days, running time, budgets, and equipment allocation. These parameters are assigned to each level of production to ensure each student has an equal educational experience.
As a faculty, we teach, review and evaluate along the path of creating a motion picture. Faculty work alongside students throughout each step of the production process. This allows our faculty to truly evaluate the filmmaker as an artist, knowing very well the intent, struggle, and compromises that came to shape the final product. When the student screens their final film, it is the “premiere” and a cause for celebration!