The College of Motion Picture Arts is a conservatory. Its unique educational structure is based on the comprehensive process of production. Each level of the student’s education has a development phase, a pre-production phase, a production phase, and a post-production phase. Classes are organized, scheduled and structured to compliment the natural process of making a film.
To accommodate the 200+ films produced in any given year, the College operates on a very structured schedule. This rigid structure exists to provide each student and each faculty member sufficient time and resources for their class and production needs. This is essential to our value of the level playing field.
This schedule, while complicated, is also very organic. It may change with little notice to accommodate any number of “X” factors that arise during the semester. Changes in the schedule range from class changes to accommodate a special workshop to mundane room changes.
Students are also required to complete a number of tasks that fall outside the realm of the published weekly College schedule, such as homework, small group meetings, location scouts, and production meetings, etc. These outside requirements are also organic and specific to the needs of each individual class and production, and quite often happen during the evening and on weekends. It is also not unusual for the administration to call impromptu meetings to discuss issues, schedule changes, or unexpected opportunities.
Students enrolling in the College, therefore, must be willing to make a 24/7 commitment to the program.
The weekly schedule
The weekly schedule is the key instrument for holding the classes and other schedules together. The weekly schedule is created by the Associate Dean, approved by the faculty, and updated and distributed by the Assistant Dean.
A PDF of the weekly schedule for the upcoming week is posted to the #schedule channel on Slack each Friday. Revisions to the schedule are then posted to Slack as needed. All efforts are made to ensure changes are made in a timely manner, but sometimes that isn’t possible. In those instances, the student is always responsible for being aware of any schedule revision. For this reason, students are expected to turn on notifications for the #schedule channel in Slack, so that they are alerted of all schedule changes.
The College also provides calendar subscription links for the convenience of students, so that they can view track-specific schedules in their own calendar app. Since calendar subscriptions are not immune from technical problems, students using this feature are still responsible for remaining attentive to the revisions that are posted to Slack. Syncing errors with a personal calendar app are not an acceptable excuse for missing class.
Tracks and sub-tracks
Both BFA and MFA students are divided into smaller groups within their class. These groups are referred to as tracks or sub-tracks. Classes meet either in separate tracks or in combined tracks depending upon the needs of the course. The administration will track students at the beginning of their time in the program, and as students move throughout the curriculum, they will begin to track themselves.
For each production cycle, crew grids are created by the Associate Dean and distributed by the Head of Production. The crew grids plot out crew positions and production dates for the cycle and are designed to provide equal access to time and resources for each student, in accordance with the College’s level playing field philosophy.
Due to evolving changes in curriculum, equipment, or the number of students in a given cohort, the crew grid for a specific production cycle is subject to change from year-to-year.
If a personal emergency arises, the College administration will work with the student to accommodate such events to the degree that is does not impact the student’s ability to recover or make up the missed work.
In these instances the student is required to contact the Associate Dean immediately to communicate the nature of the emergency and to ensure the College has the necessary information. During their absence, the student is required to stay in touch and work with the administration on any necessary details that would affect the student’s required schoolwork. Maintaining a good line of communication during such emergencies is essential, and failing to do so may result in disciplinary action.
In some instances, due to the lockstep nature of the curriculum, a student may not be able to continue in the program if a personal situation results in the student being unable to adequately make up for missed work.