Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) Filmmaking

Overview of our AFA in Filmmaking

This two-year program is intensive and fast-paced, distilled to ensure that students advance in the shortest time possible. All classes and coursework is explicitly designed with concrete skill and production goals.

New York Film Academy Associate of Fine Arts degree programs are offered at our Los Angeles campus.

Hands-on experience from day one.
Write, shoot, direct, and edit 11 films of your own creation.
These become your portfolio and calling card.
Work on the crew of more than 40 of your classmates’ films and gain skillsand experience in all facets of filmmaking.
“Learn by Doing” as you master the art and craft of directing,
cinematography, editing, writing, and producing.
Learn and train on state-of-the-art professional cameras, lights,
sound and editing equipment, including RED DRAGON digital and
Panavision 35mm motion picture cameras.

Instructors are award-winning professionals who bring working
knowledge of the industry to the classroom.
Classes are not abstract lessons in theory, but are applied, hands-on
studio workshops.


Qualified students have the option of completing course work at the New York Film Academy’s film school in New York City in a one-year non-degree program and then applying their course work to be accepted for advanced standing in the AFA filmmaking degree program.

This gives students the unique opportunity to learn their craft in both New York City, the heart of the independent film industry and international proving ground for actors, and in Los Angeles, amidst the great film studios in the worldwide entertainment capital.


Based on an academic year, the AFA filmmaking curriculum is divided into six semesters. During the first semester, AFA filmmaking students learn the art and technique of visual storytelling. Students will take courses such as Director's Craft, Hands-on Camera and Lighting, Writing, and Editing over the course of their first semester. Students will write, direct, and edit approximately 7 short films in their first semester working with both 16mm film camera systems as well as DSLR digital camera systems. All students will be trained to edit with AVID media composer software.

The second and third semester is divided into three phases. The first phase is devoted to intensive instruction, demonstration, group sync-sound directing exercises, individual consultations, and pre-production (including casting, rehearsal, and location scouting). During this phase, filmmaking school students have one-on-one consultations as they work with scenes from their scripts. In the second, or production phase, each student directs his/her own film and crews on his/her classmates' films. The third phase of the filmmaking AFA program is devoted to post-production. During this phase, students will edit, receive instruction, and screen rough-cuts of their films. Students receive instructor feedback and finish their films for a final group screening.

Students spend additional hours each week beyond class time on the production of their film projects and the projects of their classmates. Students should be aware that these hours vary from student to student. During the 5th and 13th weeks, and after the end of the 6th month, students work exclusively on film projects while consulting with instructors. Students are responsible for making their own film project schedule, which must be supervised and approved by an instructor. Students also need to collaborate with their fellow students as well as post-production supervisors to ensure that their projects are completed during the designated times.

The overall goal of the second year of the filmmaking AFA program is to challenge students to grow as artists by exposing them to skills, techniques, and approaches to filmmaking that are more specific and complex than those they learned in year one.

In the second year, students are expected to mature in terms of artistic ability. One way to ensure this is to give the students ample time to complete a Thesis Project by allocating most of class time to discussing and critiquing their on-going projects.

Toward the end of the filmmaking AFA program, students attend film school classes focusing on the entertainment business, where they meet guest speakers from the film industry. Lecturers discuss strategies for students interested in opportunities after school.


The educational objectives in the Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) in Filmmaking Degree program are to teach students the art and craft of filmmaking, and to instruct students through a strict regimen consisting of lectures, seminars, and total immersion workshops to excel in the creative art of filmmaking.

Filmmaking Associate’s of Fine Arts Production Goals

  • Write, direct, and edit 11 films of increasing complexity as well as a final thesis film.
    • Mise-en-scène In their first film, students are introduced to mise-en-scène, or directing a shot to visually tell a story. Once they create a dramatic moment, they concentrate on the dynamics of the shot that will best express it. This project teaches students how the visual relationship between the subject and the camera creates drama. Each student designs and shoots a scene that has a beginning, middle, and end. Students will learn to pay close attention to the choice of lenses, distances, and angles.

      Since the story will be told within one long shot, it must be staged to express as much as possible about the characters and their actions. Students should rehearse the shot for blocking of actors and camera until the scene works without needing to stop; only then should they roll film. Students each shoot one roll of black and white reversal film, then edit and screen their films for critique and discussion.
      • Allotted shooting time: three hours.
      • Editing time: one four-hour slot.
      • Screening time: 30 seconds to two minutes.
    • Continuity Continuity is one of the fundamental principles of modern filmmaking. By making a "continuity film," students learn to use cuts to advance the story while sustaining the reality of the scene. They learn the difference between "film time" and "real time." Students are challenged to make a film that maintains continuity in story, time, and space. The action in these films unfolds utilizing a variety of shots (10–15) in a continuous sequence (no jumps in time or action). In the continuity films, students must produce a clear, visual scene while maintaining the authenticity of the moment. It is essential that the audience believes in the reality of the scene. Students write, direct, shoot, edit, and screen a film of up to three minutes.

      Filmmaking AFA students must thoroughly pre-plan and complete the following pre-production elements:
      • Script.
      • Location scout.
      • Script breakdown.
      • Floor plan.
      • Storyboard.
      • Schedule of shots.
      Students shoot two rolls of film, then edit and screen their films for critique and discussion.

      • Allotted shooting time: four hours.
      • Editing time: two four-hour slots.
      • Screening time: one to three minutes.
    • Music & Montage Film The third project in the filmmaking AFA degree program introduces students to the relationship between sound and film, as well as to narrative tools like montage and jump cuts.

      In this project, students are encouraged to explore a more personal form of visual storytelling. Students choose a piece of music and, in the editing room, cut their images to work in concert with, or in counterpoint to, the music. Students should experiment with rhythm and pacing. Each student writes, directs, shoots, edits, and screens a film of up to four minutes. In addition to storyboards, students may use a still camera to plan their films. This assists them in their choice of locations, angles, and lighting.
      • Allotted shooting time: five hours.
      • Editing time: three four-hour slots.
      • Screening time: two to four minutes.
    • Chekhovian Text & Subtext This projects challenges students to explore the relationship between dialogue and dramatic action. It serves as the students’ first foray into directing a film with dialogue recorded on set. Students are provided with short dialogue-only scripts with no description of physical detail or action. The student director determines the "who, what, where, when, and why" of the story. Above all, each student director identifies the character objectives and dramatic beats of the scene.

      Students will find that these elements determine the meaning of the dialogue and should deepen their understanding of text versus subtext.

      When the finished projects are screened in class for critique, students will discover how different directorial interpretations of the same scene reveal the characters and the impact and meaning of the story.
      • Allotted Shooting Time: four hours.
      • Editing Time: two four-hour slots.
      • Screening Time: one to three minutes.
    • POV Each shot in a film expresses a point of view, and in narrative film the point of view changes often — sometimes with each new shot. For the most part, point of view (which is often called narrative stance) is largely invisible to the audience, though the accumulated effect of the changes profoundly affects the way the audience interprets any scene. Students will analyze different ways to create a point of view through visual means: POV shot construction, camera placement and the 180 degree rule, shot size, shot constructions (such as over the shoulder construction), in depth and linear staging and blocking, lens choice, sound design, and more.

      The POV project is designed for students to explore the various techniques directors use to create a character's point of view in a scene. Students create a short two minute scene, containing minimal dialogue and no more than two characters with conflicting objectives. The director will create two versions of the script and edit two distinct versions of the scene. Each should visually present the viewer with a clear and distinct point of view.
      • Allotted Shooting Time: five hours.
      • Editing Time: one four-hour slot.
      • Screening Time: up to two minutes.
    • Intermediate Film The first semester of the filmmaking associate degree program concludes with the Digital Dialogue Film project. The Digital Dialogue Film is a narrative digital film of up to 10 minutes. This film should build on the lessons and techniques students have learned in their Acting for Directors classes, production workshops, and the POV film. It should be a performance-driven film with no more than three characters and one or two locations. The "story time" of the film should be limited to minutes or hours — not days, weeks, or years. Students also have the option of producing a documentary film as a digital dialogue film.
      • Allotted shooting time: two days.
      • Editing time: 40-80 hours.
      • Screening time: up to 10 minutes.
    • Year One Film This project is the culmination of the year's work. Each student's goal is to produce a fully realized short film demonstrating artistic vision and point of view. Students work with larger crews and have more time allotted for pre-production, production, and post-production than in the previous projects. Students prepare for this project with the assistance of all classes in the second semester — including the producing class, which is specifically designed to guide students through the preproduction of this project. Students must prepare detailed production books and receive a "green light" from the faculty to check out equipment for their shoots. Each student can choose to shoot this film in one of three formats: high definition digital video, 16mm film, or 35mm film.
      • Allotted shooting time: five days.
      • Editing time: up to four weeks.
      • Screening time: up to 15 minutes.
    • Music Video Each student conceives, produces, directs, and edits a music video. This project is an opportunity for students in the second year to develop and demonstrate their visual style as filmmakers. It is intended to help students build their reels for possible professional work in the future. Students are encouraged to collaborate with a musical artist or band that incorporates performance and the use of playback.
      • Allotted shooting time: two days.
      • Editing time: up to 40 hours.
      • Screening time: one to five minutes.
    • Commercial Each filmmaking AFA student writes, directs, and edits a television commercial for an existing or invented product. This project challenges students to try their hands at this very influential form of filmmaking. This medium demands high production values and concise storytelling. It is another opportunity for students to showcase their talents for their reels.
      • Allotted shooting time: two days.
      • Editing time: up to 40 hours.
      • Screening time: 30 or 60 seconds.

    • Short Form Thesis Film Associate degree candidates must direct and shepherd a short-form thesis film through post-production. Projects may be up to 30 minutes in length and must be delivered prior to graduation. Students may choose from all media formats studied over the course of the program to film their thesis films.
  • Students perform key crew positions on their classmates' films, including: cinematographer, gaffer, sound recordist, assistant director, and assistant camera.
  • Students write a feature length script of 90-120 pages.


Skills learned as a result of successful completion of this program include:
  • The ability to work independently and collaboratively in a high-pressure creative environment.
  • An in-depth knowledge of 16mm and digital video cameras and motion picture production.
  • A working knowledge of 35mm cameras and 35mm film production.
  • The ability to write and pre-visualize a screenplay.
  • In-depth experience working as a director, producer, assistant director, director of photography, assistant camera person, gaffer, and grip on student productions.
  • Mastery of digital editing software.
  • Knowledge of film history and film studies.
  • Knowledge of aesthetic film theory and experience with practical application of the same.


Skills learned as a result of successful completion of this program include:
  • Growth as artists by finding new and effective ways to visually express stories.
  • Honing group problem solving skills through collaboration on increasingly complex film projects.
  • Complete shot exercises assigned by instructors, which are designed to challenge their status quo as artists.
  • Examining filmmaking from a business perspective.
  • Directing a Thesis Project.

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$29,938 Per Year

International student tuition fee

2 Years


Aug 2024

Start Month

Jul 2024

Application Deadline

Upcoming Intakes

  • August 2024
  • January 2025
  • May 2025
  • August 2025

Mode of Study

  • Full Time