FAQ: MFA in Film and Video Production

FAQ: MFA in Film and Video Production

Q. What kinds of projects do students in the MFA program produce?

A. Our program approaches cinema as art, and our graduate students work in a variety of modes from non-fiction, experimental and expanded cinema, to animation and fiction filmmaking. We support hybrid forms, both in terms of production methods and conceptual interests. Our program supports HD video and other digital technologies as well as 16mm and Super8 filmmaking equipment. Most production courses require several short assignments designed around specific parameters and a final project with fewer restrictions. Media Production Workshop, a course taken prior to thesis year, focuses on a single self-directed project. Students are responsible for all aspects of their productions: writing, design, shooting, editing, sound; however the close-knit community here means that students frequently assist as crew members on one another's projects. There are no separate tracks through the program based on industry craft positions.

Q. How long are the thesis projects and what form do they take?

A. The form of the thesis project is determined by each student in close consultation with the Cinematic Arts faculty, though projects are strongly encouraged to be less than 30 minutes long. In a typical year there may be a narrative project and several non-fiction or experimental projects presented for the MFA thesis. We do not support the production of feature length projects.

Q. What is the balance between history/theory courses and hands-on production courses in the MFA?

A. To support our belief that theory and history are important for any filmmaker, we require several of non-production courses in the MFA curriculum and have specific requirements regarding film theory and/or history. However, we are primarily a production program and encourage our students to focus on developing their creative practice. MFA students typically take 6 production courses in their first 4 semesters. Additional courses are taken in non-production areas of Cinematic Arts (Film Studies) and from other departments on campus. Iowa has a very strong film culture due in part to the excellent Film Studies MA/ PhD program. MFA students can benefit from the close association with these events and screenings, as the MA/PhD programs benefit from the active production environment as well.

Q. How many students are admitted each year?

A. We admit 3-4 students per year. We are a 3-year program and average between 9-12 graduate students per cluster.

Q: Will your admissions letter tell me everything I need to know about financial support?

A: No. Admitted applicants should expect to receive a second letter detailing financial support approximately one month after the first. Support can come in many forms. Teaching assistantships in Film and Video Production are the most common; also possible are teaching assistantships in other units, scholarships of various sizes, fellowships, or a combination of these.

Q: Do you encourage admitted students to visit the campus?

A: Definitely. There’s no better way to get an idea of what the program is like than actually spending a weekday or two on campus while school is in session. This will give you an opportunity to visit classes, check out the facilities, meet with faculty and students, and appreciate the extraordinary resources of Iowa City. For help organizing your visit, contact Christopher Harris, Head of Film and Video Production.

Q: If I have further questions, to whom and how should they be addressed?

A: The best approach is to send an e-mail with your questions to Christopher Harris, Head of Film and Video Production, at christopher-harris@uiowa.edu.