How to Succeed in the Film Production MFA Program
Published on May 1, 2019 by Amy Cassell
Full Sail designed its Film Production MFA program with storytellers in mind – people who have a passion for sharing stories, and want to learn how to show them to the world.
“We help students realize their dream to be directors, producers, and writers, while also providing a sturdy foundational knowledge of the filmmaking process,” says Anne Russell, the Film Production MFA program director. “We foster both creativity and business acumen to help our students become tomorrow’s leaders in the industry.”
In the 12-month, on-campus program, students have access to Full Sail’s professional studios and facilities while working with classmates on various film projects. It’s an immersive, intensive, and fulfilling year that explores the art and business of filmmaking. Grads have pursued many opportunities post-graduation, from working on film and TV sets to directing their own projects and launching their own production studios. Grad Calvin Greer has worked on films like Avengers: Endgame, and Shyam Bandugula opened a production studio in India.
Here are some of the traits and skills you need to bring to campus – and the film set – to succeed in the Film Production MFA program:
Before entering the Film Production program: It’s okay if you don’t have extensive film experience – or any for that matter. Students come to the program from all over the world, with all types of undergraduate experience. The most important thing to possess is a true passion and desire to tell stories. “We don’t care if you don’t know the difference between a C47 and a scrim. We can teach that!” Russell says. “Students need to bring their unique perspectives and life experiences so that we can teach them how to craft them into visual stories.”
Since this program is on Full Sail’s Winter Park, Florida, campus, and courses are accelerated, you’ve got to be ready to make a huge time commitment – Russell doesn’t advise that students have a job while enrolled. Whether you’re just learning the art of filmmaking or you’ve enrolled in the program to further fine-tune your craft, you’re expected to work your hardest at all times.
Be Ready For a Commitment: Students spend 76 hours a month in class – studying writing, producing, directing, composition, and business – plus 152 more hours on homework and film projects. On top of that, Full Sail’s Film Production and Career Development departments often invite guest speakers to campus and host networking events with industry executives; you’ll want to take advantage of those opportunities.
You’ll need to be ready to take criticism and feedback too. Opening yourself up to that may be hard at first, but it’s crucial: “Remember that as filmmakers, we grow and improve through rigorous feedback,” Russell says. “It’s a very important aspect of our industry’s culture.”
Successful Film Production students are passionate, creative, and flexible. They work well with others (“If you can’t work well with others, you won’t get far,” Russell says) and they excel at time management. The university’s accelerated track means you’re getting a master’s degree in one year instead of the typical two. It’s a huge benefit – you’ll get a head start in the industry – but it requires commitment and organization.
More Keys to Success: The film industry may seem competitive and cold, but Russell wants students to know that’s not the environment at Full Sail. As long you show up with the dedication and passion to pursue filmmaking, faculty will have your back.
“We’re determined to provide a one-of-a-kind experience to mentor our students and allow them to explore their unique voices and perspectives,” Russell says. “We care about every one of them, and this support follows them through the program and throughout their career.
More questions? Check out the Film Production MFA degree page or call an Admissions Representative at 800.226.7625.