Movie Directing Courses and Degree Program Information

Movie directing courses provide training in several aspects of film production, and they are typically part of an undergraduate or advanced degree program. Since hands-on experience is essential, most film schools will provide students with ample opportunities to practice filmmaking and will require students to train in all areas, from conceptualization and casting to post-production.

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Essential Information

Movie directors must possess a broad base of artistic, interpersonal and technical skills. For this reason, a film school curriculum covers a wide variety of areas, including film history, screenwriting, acting, directing, editing and cinematography.

Bachelor's degrees tend to be more generalized and function as an introduction to movie directing. In a master's degree program, students can focus more on the aspects of movie directing which interest them. They are typically required to complete one or more full-length projects. A Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is typically two years; a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.), which specializes further than an M.A., generally takes three years to complete. Common topics in directing courses include the following:

  • Scene staging
  • Expressionism
  • Continuity
  • Black and white film
  • Lighting
  • Digital technology

List of Movie Directing Courses

Directing for Film

This course introduces the art and craft of movie directing, emphasizing the creative interaction between actors, technical workers and the films themselves. Students learn to take on the role of storyteller while at the same time working on the more detailed areas of actor blocking, sound design, lighting and editing.

Cinematography Introductory Course

Directing students learn the basics of cinematography in this course, focusing on ways to use the medium to narrate without dialogue. Coursework provides an introduction to the conceptual and technical aspects of cinematography. Students may have the opportunity to produce their own short projects, using such media as 16mm black and white and high-definition digital video. Lighting, blocking and scene staging are among the other topics covered.

Film History

This course provides an overview of film history from its beginnings in the late 19th century through to the present. Important developments and influential individuals are discussed, along with filmmaking movements such as surrealism, constructivism and expressionism. Major advances and changes in movie-making techniques are covered, including the advent of sound and, later, digital technology. Certain ground-breaking films will be studied; these films represent eras in the history of cinema.

Post Production Workshop: Nonlinear Editing

Nonlinear, nondestructive editing is the form of film editing which came about in the 1970s and is now the industry standard in movie making. This course introduces technical concepts, such as screen direction, invisible rhythms, continuity and style elements. Students also learn to engage their own artistic process in the editing lab.

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