Students in Full Sail’s Film Production MFA are Building Connections for Life
Published on Apr 2, 2019 by Stephanie Rizzo
Learn it today, act on it tomorrow. In just 12 months, Full Sail’s Film Production MFA program can help you expand your professional skills.
Students in Full Sail’s Film Production MFA program share a passion for filmmaking and collaborative storytelling. But don’t assume all grads have a similar experience when it comes to their time in graduate school.
“We’re a small program, which allows for a lot of one-on-one interaction between students and instructors,” says program director Anne Russell. “We’re able to personalize the experience based on each student’s strengths and interests.”
The program kicks off with a course in leadership and personal brand development. From there, students build a foundational knowledge of writing, producing, and directing that will carry them through their group thesis project. Along the way, they’ll have the opportunity to work on several individual and group projects, as well as volunteer for as many additional projects as they like.
“By working for other people who are further along in the program, our students are building connections that can serve them after graduation. As one group goes out into the industry, they can reach back and help those who come after them,” says Anne.
The program focuses heavily on storytelling. Outside of that guiding focus, students are free to explore their craft – and all the roles associated with it. This includes aspects of film production that fall outside the curriculum. Anne says the faculty encourages students to get experimental and embrace collaboration and independent study.
“We never tell them they can’t do something. We don’t teach visual effects, but many people put visual effects into their films. We’re a unique institution in that we have all these resources on campus. You can walk across the street and talk to someone from the Computer Animation program. We never say no. Instead, we say, ‘How can we make this work?’”
In the final five months of the program, students work as a team to create a short thesis film. Teammates designate a writer, director, producer, and editor for their thesis, and staff the rest of the crew with peers from other cohorts. The next four courses follow the flow of a real-world production pipeline: Pre-Production (planning), Production (shooting), Post-Production (sound editing and color grading), and Film Assembly (editing).
Finally, the Business of Film course offers a look at how to brand and market the thesis film to a wider audience. Many students end up submitting their work to film festivals, and several films that have come out of the program have gone on to win awards.
Anne credits those success stories to the close-knit working relationships people tend to build throughout their time in the program.
“No film is one person,” she says. “The joy of what we do comes from our ability to be creative in collaboration. If you do one project by yourself, it will only ever be as good as you. But if 100 people work on one project, that project is as good as everyone who participated.”