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 visiting filmmaker 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 or 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 must make a 100%, 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week commitment to the program.
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 will meet either in separate tracks or in combined tracks depending upon the needs of the course. Lecture classes will typically meet in combined tracks, and lab or workshop classes will meet in separate tracks. 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. Once students are assigned to a track they may never cross over to the other track. Track lists will be sent via email to all students at the beginning of the semester.
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 an acceptable excuse for missing class.
For each production cycle, crew grids are created by the Associate Dean, approved by the faculty, and updated 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 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.
Employment, outside activities, clubs, and non-film school courses
With very few exceptions, both MFA and BFA students are prohibited from engaging in any outside activities while enrolled in the College. Exceptions to this rule are permitted only with express written permission from the Office of the Associate Dean. Once enrolled in film coursework, students are not permitted to enroll in courses outside the College without express written permission from the Office of the Associate Dean.
Weddings, anniversaries, and family gatherings
It is inevitable that your friends will get married and your family will have anniversaries or other gatherings during your enrollment in the College. We understand the importance of family and your desire to attend. Whenever possible and with sufficient notice, the administration will try to adjust the schedule to accommodate the most important of these events. Sometimes, however, it simply is not possible, and you will have to apologize to your loved ones and miss the event. We try very hard to work with you, but it is a condition of enrollment that you attend required events regardless of outside occurrences.
Film production in general does not stop to celebrate anything except its own wrap and premiere. Likewise, the College may require work through many traditional holidays. Generally both the BFA and MFA programs honor the University breaks between semesters. There are sometimes exceptions to these as well. Always check with the Office of the Associate Dean before making plans to make sure you will not miss anything.
The College honors religious holidays. Students must notify their instructor(s) and the Office of the Associate Dean in writing during the first two weeks of the semester of any upcoming religious holidays or needed religious accommodations. If the student fails to submit the necessary notification in the time specified, the College will be unable to make any accommodations per the University policy. Only religious holidays that specifically require a student not to work will be honored as an excused absence.
It is inevitable that emergencies will arise and 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 Office of 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. Failure to maintain the line of communication during such emergencies may result in disciplinary action.
No matter what the situation, the student is required to notify the Office of the Associate Dean of any situation or event that may affect the student’s ability to attend any mandatory event. Failure to receive permission to miss a required event may result in probation or dismissal from the College.