Digital Filmmaking

[1] Objectives

The MFA degree is recognized as a terminal degree in the area of film production. This program in digital film production emphasizes full-time, professionally oriented study and is aimed toward students wishing to work professionally in the motion picture and related fields or wishing to teach at the university level.

[2] Program Admission Requirements

In addition to the graduate school application and fee, GRE scores, and transcripts, students applying to the MFA program in Digital Filmmaking must also submit the following:

  1. A statement of purpose (2–3 pages)
  2. A current résumé or vita
  3. Two letters of recommendation
  4. A portfolio of creative work, either visual (video or film work, photographs) or written (screenplays, stage plays, or fiction)

In accordance with the guidelines established in the Graduate Bulletin, up to 15 hours of graduate work from an accredited institution may be accepted at UCA, subject to approval by the graduate dean and the department chair. All transfer hours must be in courses for which an equivalent exists at UCA. Students may be requested to provide support materials, including relevant course syllabi. Thesis hours may not be transferred.

Students admitted with a completed MA or MS degree in film production (or closely related area) may transfer up to 18 hours of graduate course work, subject to approval by the graduate dean and the department chair. All transfer hours must be in courses for which an equivalent exists at UCA. Students may be requested to provide support materials, including relevant course syllabi. Thesis hours may not be transferred. In accordance with the Graduate Bulletin, a minimum of 24 hours credit in residence at UCA is required.

[3] Degree Requirements

The Master of Fine Arts in Digital Filmmaking is a three-year, 60 credit hour terminal degree. The program emphasizes production skills through both a series of production seminars and the thesis project. In addition, students are required to take courses in writing, history, and theory in order to create a well rounded education. Full time students are expected to take nine credits a semester.

[3.1] Courses

The student is required to complete 42 hours of course work before beginning the thesis project.

Required Courses

FILM 5310 Pre-Visualization and Digital Workflow
FILM 6316 Psychoanalytic/Marxist Theories of Cinema
FILM 6317 Cognitive/Ecological Theories of Cinema
FILM 6320 Production Seminar: Audio
FILM 6321 Production Seminar: Cinematography
FILM 6322 Production Seminar: Editing
FILM 6323 Production Seminar: Digital Visual Effects
FILM 6324 Production Seminar: Producing the Motion Picture
FILM 6325 Production Seminar: Directing Actors
FILM 6326 Production Seminar: Directing the Motion Picture
FILM 6340 History of American Cinema
FILM 6341 History of International Cinema
FILM 6360 Screenwriting
FILM 6363 Writing the Short Film

Substitutions may be made at the discretion of the student’s advisor and/or committee when completing the Petition for Candidacy.


FILM 5392 Topics in Digital Production
FILM 6390 Directed Study in Digital Filmmaking

[3.2] Comprehensive Examination

The student must pass a comprehensive examination administered by the thesis committee before beginning the thesis project (usually spring semester of the second year). The comprehensive examination will cover history, theory, and production practices.

[3.3] Thesis Project

The thesis project will take the form of a narrative, fiction film with an approximate running time of 20 minutes and maximum running time of 25 minutes.

Students are expected to complete all coursework and pass their comprehensive examination before beginning thesis hours.

By the end of the fourth semester of study (39-42 hours completed) the student will submit a script and production proposal that must be approved by the thesis committee. The script details the student’s proposed film and provides the opportunity for review and feedback from the committee. The production proposal will provide the student’s vision for the film.

The script and proposal will be submitted to the committee in a formal meeting. Graduate students are required to present their script and proposal orally to their committee, providing members the opportunity to evaluate the student’s knowledge and understanding of the proposal as well as the student’s ability to reason and present logical explanations to questions related to the completion of the proposed film. The presentation is conducted as a scholarly seminar.

Students typically enroll in nine hours of thesis credits per semester in their third year. Students must complete 18 hours of thesis work to graduate.

The completed thesis project will include the following elements:

  1. A completed narrative, fiction film with a running time of approximately 20 minutes and a maximum running time of 25 minutes
  2. An copy of the production proposal, with a new, added Conclusions section
  3. The final shooting script in proper script format
  4. A production book containing all relevant pre-production and production paperwork, including, but not limited to script breakdown sheets, story boards, shooting schedule, element lists (props, costumes, etc.), and all necessary release forms (actor, location, music, etc.), as well as creative documents, including shot lists, set plans, and script analysis

When the thesis project is completed an oral examination of the candidate will be held. The oral examination is principally a defense of the thesis. This provides an opportunity for the student to present his/her work to the committee formally and for the committee to indicate its acceptance or to require further work.

[4] Graduate Courses in Digital Filmmaking (FILM)

Follow this link for FILM course descriptions: course link.