Film & Television

Develop and produce your thesis film in our world-class film production program

She’s shot a short film for Al Gore, filmed a feature on rapid land-use change in China, and this spring premiered the first of two documentaries on Cuba’s world-class ballet program, but Associate Professor of Film Mary Jane Doherty says she owes much of her growth to a soil much closer to home: her students.

Graduate Concentration in Film Production

Our Alumni

  • Robert Patton-Spruill (Squeeze)
  • Joe Roth (America’s Sweethearts)
  • Gary Fleder (Kiss the Girls, Runaway Jury)
  • Scott Rosenberg (Gone in 60 Seconds, High Fidelity)
  • Lauren Shuler Donner (You’ve Got Mail)
  • Richard Gladstein (The Cider House Rules)

The graduate program in Film Production emphasizes training the individual to become a complete filmmaker. The program has two Master degree pathways— the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and the Master of Science (MS). The intensive two-year MFA degree program enables each student to develop his or her unique vision as a filmmaker and to graduate with a short film capable of entering film festivals. In addition to Directing, thesis options include Editing and Cinematography. The MFA degree is a four-semester, 64-credit program.

Not all students are approved to complete the MFA program. After a first year in the program, Film Production graduate students have their work evaluated by the faculty. Based on this review, candidates are placed on the MFA or MS tracks. In order to be approved to complete the MFA, students must demonstrate that they have the skill, creativity and motivation necessary to complete a thesis production successfully. Students placed on the MS pathway are only required to complete one additional semester of coursework (three semesters in all). In place of a thesis production, they must complete a capstone project through which they make an intensive study of a specific production-related discipline. Both MS and MFA candidates have the option of participating in the Los Angeles Internship Program.

In addition to the required production sequence leading to the thesis, the program offers a wide range of elective courses including acting, directing, cinematography, lighting, sound design and digital editing. Students also participate in the department’s Cinematheque screening and visitor series. Recent guests include writer/director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver) indie film dynamo Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes the Stairs) and legendary cinematographer Gordon Willis (Annie Hall, The Godfather).

The program is small, with about 16 graduate students entering each year. The equipment-to-student ratio is among the best in the world. Film students shoot on a variety of formats, including HD digital video and 16mm film.

Our graduate students have received numerous prestigious awards and accolades, including recognition by the Student Academy Awards, the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), and American Cinema Editors (ACE). Four students have placed first in the ACE student editing competition, and our students’ films have screened at festivals all over the world.


If you still have questions regarding this program after reviewing the online information, contact the Director of Film Production Programs, Prof. Charles Merzbacher, at