Cinematography And Film Schools

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What is Cinematography and Film?

Cinematography and film is the area of study and industry related to the creation of movies. Cinematography is the process by which such movies are made, the various lenses, film types, cameras and other factors that got into designing and filming a shot. Film also includes the study of film and the various genres, techniques milieus and other ideas that have gone into the production and creation of film. The field is defined by the variety of methods, techniques and ideas used to construct an individual film.

Why Attend Film School?

You may be considering attending a top film school online or on-site for a variety of reasons.  The most common reasons students elect to attend an accredited film school include the following reasons:

Academics – Students looking to take their career to the next level can benefit greatly from an accredited curriculum taught by qualified professors.  During their studies students will gain knowledge in the cinematography field, acquire specialized skills, and advanced tools of the trade.

Professional Contacts – The best film schools in the country offer an array of degree programs and certificate programs that include a school-approved externship or apprenticeship.  These externship programs offer students a unique opportunity to learn from film professionals and develop lifelong relationships and professional contacts.  These contacts can link you to other influential professionals in the trade to help you land your dream job or ideal project.

If you are thinking about attending film school to study cinematography, it is important to establish a personal priority list to help you chart a course.  Finding the best film school for you may not be a linear path.  In fact, the top film schools near you may not be the best choice given your career objectives leading you to look outside your immediate area to find the best film school for you.  To help you get the most out of your film school journey, we recommend you read the following books to help make the process more efficient: The Complete Guide to the College Admission Process and Crush the Odds by Getting into Your Top College.

Top Degrees in Cinematography and Film

There are a number of degree and certificate programs to choose from when considering a future in film and cinematography.  Below we have listed the degree types and programs in the industry that you can further research.  The degree programs in cinematography and film include:

Certificate Programs from Cinematography and Film Schools

Certificate programs offered by cinematography and film schools can help students and working professional gain specialized knowledge and upskill in the film industry.  Programs are typically shorter in nature than a degree program and can range from a few weeks long up to two years.  A cross-section of online certificate programs offered by cinematography and film schools include: photography, filmmaking, acting for film, producing for TV, screenwriting, documentary filmmaking, producing for movies, game design, graphic design, broadcast journalism, 3D animation, cinematography, and musical theatre.

Associate Degree in Cinematography and Film

An associate degree in cinematography and film can be conferred as an Associate of Applied Science (AAS), Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Fine Arts (AFA), or Associate of General Studies (AGS) depending on the school and their curricular design.  The online associate degree offered by film schools include a combination of general education studies such as English composition, communication, and philosophy with core film classes.  Core classes in an online associate’s degree program will depend on the program offered by the school and your area of concentration.

Bachelor’s Degree in Cinematography and Film

The online bachelor’s degree offered at film schools can be conferred to students at a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) relative to the curriculum and program emphasis.  The 4-year program will delve deeper into film specialties and provide students with a broad-based swath of general education classes to help students think differently about the world around them.  Specialties offered within the cinematography realm may include programs such as: acting, visual effects, 3D animation, film, graphic design, performing arts, musical theatre, broadcast journalism, digital editing, cinematography, game design, documentary, game design, producing, screenwriting, visual arts, directing, and virtual reality.

Master’s Degree in Cinematography and Film

At the master’s degree track is designed for students looking to advance their career with specialized knowledge in cinematography and film.  Programs at this level are conferred as a Master’s of Arts (MA) or Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA).  Master’s degrees are 1-2 year programs of additional matriculation for those already meeting lower level requirements.  Online master programs can be found from accredited colleges and universities in a number of disciplines including: game design, screenwriting, producing, cinematography, acting, photography, documentary, and filmmaking.  During matriculation at the master’s degree level, students will be immersed in project-based learning to help apply field-specific theories, practices, and business principles in the visual arts and performing arts.

Doctorate Degree in Cinematography and Film

The doctorate-level programs in cinematography and film are highly specialized degree programs conferred as PhD in Cinematography and Film or as a Doctor of Philosophy.  Students considering the doctorate-level track in cinematography will typically be geared to teach at the college-level in a defined area of cinematography or perform research to advance the field of film.  The PhD programs will vary in length but will often take students four to six years to complete with a board-approved dissertation taking a substantial portion of the program.

Educational Requirements for Film Students

A degree in cinematography and film will educate an individual in the art of making movies. The process of making a film is complicated, and an understanding of the technical, financial and artistic aspects of production is necessary in order to complete a project. One can obtain the basic skills necessary to enter film production through a two year associate's program or continue toward higher level degrees which will offer a greater understanding of history, technology, aesthetics, and theory.

Cinematography and film curriculum may include:

  • Introduction to Cinema
  • Sound
  • Film Production
  • Film Genres
  • Video Editing

Schools Other Students Requested Information From:

Employment Paths & Popular Careers in Cinematography

Those looking to pursue a career in film production will have many options available to them as productions require many people with different skills. Movement through various facets of film production is not uncommon, and as an individual gains more experience he or she will begin to see higher pay and more responsibility. Experience in filmmaking in its many facets is highly valued, particularly among positions that require an individual to supervise or manage a team and to coordinate with other portions of production. Individuals wishing to reach the higher level of production, such as director or producer, should take on positions that allow them to become familiar with professionals in those positions.

Careers in film may include:

  • Art Director
  • Gaffer
  • Grip
  • Director
  • Camera Operator
  • Editor
  • Producer
  • Production Assistant
  • Cinematographer
  • Director of Photography

Job Growth in Film and Cinematography

The salary of a person working in film is highly dependent on the position of the individual and the production he or she is currently on. Skill and experience are highly prized, and a person attempting to enter the industry should be willing to take on any roll in order to obtain that experience.  Job growth is expected to increase as newer technologies become more commonplace requiring trained individuals to work with them as well as the increased role of entertainment increasing the overall number of productions, thus work opportunities.

Individuals interested in cinematography and film may also be interested in photography, film studies, and photo journalism.  The American Society of Cinematography (ASC) may be an organization of interest.  Associations such as the ASC help to provide members a place to learn, grow, and connect to other like-minded professionals.

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Career Summary: Cinematography and film Major




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