MFA Cinematography | New York Film Academy (2022)

Overview of our MFA in Cinematography

The Academy makes the accelerated two-year schedule possible by creating an extended academic year allowing students to complete three full-length semesters in each calendar year.

New York Film Academy MFA in Cinematography program is offered at our Los Angeles Campus.

Qualified students have the option of completing course work at the New York Film Academy 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 MFA Cinematography degree program.

The New York Film Academy Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Cinematography is an accelerated, conservatory-based graduate program intended for full-time study over the course of five semesters. Designed to instruct gifted and hardworking students in a hands-on and professional environment. The MFA in Cinematography program provides a unique setting for the development of both the creative vision and technical proficiency within the field of cinematograhy.

NYFA Cinematography Workshop at Sybil Brand Prison

Students will follow a rigorous program of classroom study, self-directed projects, instructor-led workshops, and school- facilitated collaboration with NYFA students across different disciplines. Upon graduation, students will be proficient with many of the state-of-the-art camera systems used by professional cinematographers today, and be able to confidently supervise the creation of sophisticated lighting schemes. Most importantly, they will be able to effectively harness the visual tools of cinema to tell meaningful stories.


In Year One, Cinematography MFA students will be immersed in a concentrated schedule of classroom learning, teacher- supervised workshops and outside projects. This regimen presupposes no prior knowledge of cinematography, but aims to have students confident in the fundamentals of exposure, composition, lighting and set- etiquette by the end of the year. Throughout the program, a combination of classroom experience, practical hands-on workshops, individual and collaborative projects, and instructor-led productions provide a rigorous forum for students to develop their technical skills and artistic identities. In the spirit of fostering collaboration, there will be a screening hosted during each semester to showcase the cinematographers' work to NYFA Filmmaking students.

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During the first semester, students learn the fundamentals of the art and craft of cinematography. Topics covered will include optics, light metering techniques using both incident and spot meters, loading and utilizing 16mm film, HD video, and digital cinema cameras, basic lighting, fundamentals of composition, color theory, film chemistry, and camera movement using the dolly.

Cinematography students will be expected to complete five projects during their first semester. Their first project will be a story told through a series of still images photographed on 35mm black and white film.

The second project will be the Mise-En- Scène Film, photographed in black and white on 16mm film with the option to use a basic lighting package. In the Continuity Project, students will focus on shot design and creating a scene that can be cut together elegantly. They will use a high definition camera, and begin using more sophisticated grip and light-shaping techniques. Before undertaking this project, students will study the theory and practice of digital cinematography.

Students will return to the still photo format for the fourth project, telling a story through a series of black and white images. Students will be expected to show a higher level of technical control, and a more sophisticated understanding of visual narrative.

For their fifth and final project, cinematography students will use the Red Scarlet digital cinema camera to shoot the Music Project. Each student will begin by choosing a piece of music, and then creating a project that interprets it. Cinematographers are encouraged to work with filmmaking and producing students on this project, as well as supporting their classmates’ projects by working in key crew positions.

Production Goals:

  • Photograph two 35mm still photo projects, a short 16mm film, a high-definition Continuity Project, and a Music Project shot on a Red digital cinema camera.
  • Crew on colleagues’ films in key creative positions including gaffer, key grip, camera assistant, and camera operator.


The second semester in the Cinematography program is designed to help students move beyond simply capturing an image, and instead begin painting with light. As students' ability increases, so does their tool set. Students learn how to build and operate a professional 35mm camera package, as well advanced the Red digital cinema camera system and 35mm film provide the core platforms around which the second semester is centered. Students will have multiple opportunities during class time to master the extraordinary tools offered by these professional formats. Students will build the camera in different configurations including studio, handheld and Steadicam builds, explore speed-ramping in camera, capture slow motion at high frames rates, and explore the RAW image workflow provided by the Red. Proper use of different tools for controlling exposure including waveform monitors, histograms and light meters will be covered in depth in a practical, hands-on classroom environment.

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Students are introduced to new subjects, including the Steadicam & Camera Assistant Seminar, 35mm Cinematography class, the two-week Stage Lighting Workshop which takes place in a professional sound stage environment, and a series of on- location practical shoots. The topic of color correction and image workflow will be introduced in the Post-Production for Cinematographers II course, incorporating lessons in color theory, and hands-on work with different software. These classes allow students to work on their pre-production planning skills and the execution of their creative vision on set under the supervision of experienced professionals.

During the semester, students will photograph three projects outside of class. They will begin with the 35mm Film, photographed on this classic high-resolution format. Students are encouraged to concentrate on a short project that maximizes production value and presents a strong visual design. The student will determine the format of the project, with options including a short narrative, music video, or spec commercial. Cinematographers are encouraged to collaborate with fellow New York Film Academy students on this project.

For their second film, the Sunrise/Sunset Project, students will shoot using only the natural light available at the beginning and end of the day. Working in teams of two, one student will shoot at sunrise, while the other will photograph a project at sunset. Emphasis is placed on the preparation and planning necessary to accomplish the students' goals in this short time frame.

At the end of the first year, Cinematography students will photograph the Semester Two Project using a Red digital cinema camera. Students are again encouraged to collaborate with a director or producer in the production of this film. This project may be up to 10 minutes in length, and should showcase the many skills and techniques that the students have learned throughout the program. Together these three projects will contribute to a professional show reel, as the student begins preparing their portfolio for the professional world.

Production Goals:

  • Photograph the Sunrise/Sunset Project using only natural light.
  • Photograph a showcase project using 35mm motion-picture film.
  • Photograph a short project using the Red digital cinema camera.
  • Crew in key positions on classmates' projects.


Second Year MFA candidates in Cinematography will continue to strengthen their cinematographic skills, build their reels and develop their creative voice. Each student must complete a series of classes designed to hone the fundamental skills they developed in Year One, broaden their understanding of the craft in specialized areas of knowledge, and create a space to cultivate their visual voice and sensibility. Beginning in the fourth semester, students will prepare and photograph a thesis film. They will begin by developing their visual ideas through an extended pre-production process, which will include shooting photographic tests to define the look of the project, and preparing a logistical approach to the production that supports the film's narrative. Thesis films will go into production in the fifth semester, as the students photograph and edit their projects. There will be an increased emphasis on collaboration with other filmmakers as the MFA candidate prepares to enter the professional world.


Building upon the skills acquired in semesters one and two, the third semester takes existing topics to higher levels and introduces new areas of study, such as documentary, episodic and web-based content, advanced lighting and power distribution systems, and specialized camera movement systems.

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Hands-on workshops continue in the third semester, introducing advanced lighting techniques and equipment, as well as a variety of camera movement systems. Workshop courses will incorporate visits to a rental house and production facilities, connecting students to the professional world of cinematography in Los Angeles. Multiple camera systems and advanced lighting instruments will be employed to replicate a host of situations cinematographers will face in the real world, including the combination of different color temperatures, and the mixture of natural and artificial light. The Cinematography Practica continue, allowing students to refine their skills in the field under the mentorship of both directing and cinematography instructors.

Students will be introduced to foundational concepts in the documentary form, as each student shoots and edits a short documentary project. Additionally, new formats in the entertainment industry will be explored in-depth, with a focus on webisodic programming.

In preparation for photographing advanced projects after graduation, students will further their mastery of the latest digital camera systems with the introduction of the Arriflex Alexa camera. They will participate in a master's level workshop that will introduce the camera system and address broad issues in digital cinematography, including organizing workflows, recent shifts in production culture, and the cinematographer's role in post-production.

Following the intensive workshop, each student will photograph a short portfolio project using the Alexa camera. As in previous semesters, the student may bring in an outside collaborator to direct, but the Cinematography student is responsible for developing the form and content of the project.

Production Goals:

  • Photograph a short documentary project.
  • Photograph a short showcase film using the Arriflex Alexa camera.
  • Crew in key positions on classmates' projects.


Semester Four focuses on the preparation for the students' thesis films while continuing to expand their ability to prepare for large-scale productions. Students will have two options to fulfill the Thesis requirement. They can either initiate their own thesis production, or collaborate on a thesis project with a student from the MA in Film & Media Production program or a student from the MFA Filmmaking program. In either option, the MFA Cinematography student must serve as the cinematographer and provide supporting materials in order to fulfill their thesis requirement. The Thesis Development class will provide a forum for students to develop their ideas, refine their approach to the work and plan their productions. Additionally, thesis committee meetings will provide detailed feedback and guidance throughout the thesis process.

Students will deepen their understanding of special effects photography through a specialized class on digital effects. This class will provide an overview of the history and techniques used in shooting special effects shots, up through shooting for effects-heavy productions in the digital age. Supervised digital effects shoots provide a forum to put the ideas and concept into practice, carrying the footage through a complete VFX workflow.

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A course on Production Design will familiarize students with the vital role played by the production designer and the art department. Topics will include the aesthetics of design as they relate to all aspects of film production (sets, props, etc.), as well as the logistical challenges of executing the plan with the other members of the art department. The course will incorporate a hands-on workshop element to allow students to put their ideas into practice.

Students will continue with the practicum workshops, photographing scenes and short projects under the guidance of New York Film Academy faculty members. They will be expected to produce professional level cinematography while contending with challenging schedules and ambitious production scenarios.

Production Goals:

  • Photograph a series of tests to determine the visual approach to the thesis film.


Semester Five will concentrate on thesis film production, as the students execute their production plans developed in the previous semester. Thesis Production will provide a forum for discussion as the students enter principal photography. Following the shooting period, the class will examine strategies for networking and targeting film festivals, as students enter post-production and continue to work on materials for their thesis binders.

In the third History of Cinematography course, students will engage with trends and influences in modern cinematography through the study of contemporary international cinema.

A course on optics will address the scientific and mathematical principles at the heart of camera and lens design.

Finally, the students will prepare for the transition to the professional film industry. Classes on navigating the industry will prepare students for the challenges of a professional career, including promotion and networking. An emphasis will be placed on honing the student's reels, personal websites and social media presence.

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Production Goals:

  • Photograph a thesis film and prepare a binder with supporting creative materials.
  • Crew in key positions on classmates' thesis productions.


How long does it take to get an MFA in film? ›

If you have prior experience in visual media, you should submit a portfolio illustrating relevant professional work. Our Film and Media Arts MFA program is a full-time program, but it can be completed part-time. Students are generally expected to complete the 54-credit-hour program within 36 months.

Is New York Film Academy prestigious? ›

2023 Rankings

College Factual recognizes the best colleges and universities in its annual rankings. These rankings include categories for best overall colleges, best colleges for each major, best value schools, and much more. New York Film Academy was awarded 44 badges in the 2023 rankings.

What is MFA in film school? ›

The MFA Film curriculum integrates intensive study in all the major filmmaking disciplines, including directing, cinematography, screenwriting, producing, and editing.

Is getting an MFA in film worth it? ›

Having a filmmaking MFA on your resume will help you exponentially when employers are looking at your resume and deciding whether or not they want to hire you. It will prove that you not only have the drive as a filmmaker, but also the education and experience that they are looking for.

What can you do with a masters in film? ›

What Else Can I Expect From a Master's Program in Film?
Film StudiesProfessor, writer, journalist
Documentary FilmmakingDocumentary filmmaker
1 more row

Who went to New York Film Academy? ›

Acting for Film Alumni
  • Lana Condor.
  • Manuel Garcia-Rulfo.
  • Camilla Luddington.
  • Naturi Naughton.
  • Ronen Rubinstein.
  • Hayden Szeto.
  • Amanda Du-Pont.
  • Matthew Vey.

Is Nyfa regionally accredited? ›

New York Film Academy Receives Regional Accreditation from WASC Senior College and University Commission. NEW YORK, July 26, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- On June 28, 2019, New York Film Academy received accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

Is Nyfa a for profit school? ›

The New York Film Academy Foundation is an independent non-profit organization established to provide financially challenged students with access to professional media arts training through the provision of grants and scholarships for the study of filmmaking, acting, producing, screenwriting and journalism.

What is Masters in cinematography? ›

What is a Master in Filmmaking? This degree is for aspiring filmmakers who wish to learn to create motion pictures. There are several learning pathways usually available to students, which may include scriptwriting, directing, editing, producing, cinematography, documentaries, and sound recording and design.

What is MFA in film production? ›

The three-year MFA in Film Production is a mentoring-focused, hands-on program that explores all aspects of film production through the use of visual storytelling techniques, industry standard tools and best professional practices.

What is a film degree called? ›

What Is a Film Major? This degree program is known by a variety of names – film and television; motion picture arts production; cinematic arts, film and television production – but the concept is the same.

Is it hard to get into NY film Academy? ›

As you can see from the data above, New York Film Academy is exceptionally difficult to get into. Not only should you be aiming for a 3.15 but also SAT scores around -. Getting into New York Film Academy is no easy feat and you will need to set yourself apart with more than just numbers and data.

What GPA is needed for New York Film Academy? ›

All applicants to New York Film Academy programs and workshops must have a high school diploma or acceptable equivalent by the time of the course start date. There is no minimum GPA required; however, students must speak English and express a serious desire to explore the art and craft of visual storytelling.

Does NYFA provide housing? ›

While NYFA does not have on-campus housing or dormitories, our Housing Department helps students find an apartment or residential option for both long and short-term stays.

Do you need an MFA to be a screenwriter? ›

Those who don't necessarily want to write scripts but are intrigued by teaching screenwriting at the college or university level will be required to have earned an MFA in the field, so if your passion lies in helping students achieve their screenwriting career goals, you'll want to pursue an MFA.

What can I do with an MFA in screenwriting? ›

8 Things You Can Do with a Screenwriting Degree
  • Advertising Copy Writer.
  • Teaching.
  • Media/ Film critic.
  • Talent Agent.
  • Agency Assistant.
  • Script Reading.
  • Acting and Performing.
  • Video Game Story Writer.
3 Dec 2019

Do you need a masters in screenwriting? ›

This means a screenwriting degree is definitely something aspiring filmmakers and screenwriters will naturally consider at some point. It could be a master's or a bachelor's, a major, or a minor. Regardless, a screenwriting degree comes with its own set of opportunities and obstacles.

Is cinematography a good career? ›

Is cinematography a good career? Cinematography is a highly specialized field that requires a mix of creativity and technical skills. It can be a challenging and rewarding career, but it is not for everyone. As with any profession, the level of success you achieve depends largely on your own efforts and dedication.

Which degree is best for film industry? ›

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in cinematic arts, film, and television production is a truly one-of-a-kind program that takes most students four years to complete. Offered by the School of Cinematic Art, this degree blends training in the liberal arts with specialized courses in the profession.

Are film degrees worth it? ›

Not only does film school help you in the field, but it can also aid in your post-graduate job hunt. Listing a film degree on your resume can increase your chances of being hired by a production company, editing house, or writer's room. This is because employers recognize the skills it takes to complete a film program.

Did Bill Hader go to Nyfa? ›

Bill Hader is an Emmy-award winning actor, writer, producer, and comedian, who attended New York Film Academy in 1996. He was a series regular and writer on Saturday Night Live from 2005 to 2013 and appeared on a total of 160 episodes over the course of his 8-season tenure.

Does Nyfa have dorms? ›

While NYFA does not have on-campus housing or dormitories, our Housing Department helps students find an apartment or residential option for both long and short-term stays.

How many students are at Nyfa? ›

Full-Time vs Part-Time Enrollment

The total enrollment at New York Film Academy, both undergraduate and graduate, is 1,271 students.

Is aada a good school? ›

The Academy is a highly rated private college located in Manhattan, New York in the New York City Area. It is a small institution with an enrollment of 159 undergraduate students. Admissions is fairly competitive as the The Academy acceptance rate is 58%. The only major offered is Acting.

What are the courses in film school? ›

Film studies qualifications include the BA (Bachelor of Arts), BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts), MFA (Master of Fine Arts) and, in some cases, an MPhil/PhD.

How do you become a cinematographer? ›

There are a number of degree programs available at most film schools, although most employers prefer a bachelor's degree in cinematography or photography. Such a program will often give students an overview in all aspects of filmmaking, including lighting techniques, film & video production, and directing.

How can I learn filmmaking fast? ›

How to Learn Filmmaking FAST! - Without Film School - YouTube

Where can I study cinematography in USA? ›

Learn the Art of Visual Storytelling in Films and TV in these Cinematography Schools in the US
  • University of Southern California.
  • New York University.
  • American Film Institute.
  • University of California, Los Angeles.
  • California Institute of the Arts.
  • Columbia University.
  • Chapman University.
  • Loyola Marymount University.
8 Sept 2022

What is the cinematography of a film? ›

cinematography, the art and technology of motion-picture photography. It involves such techniques as the general composition of a scene; the lighting of the set or location; the choice of cameras, lenses, filters, and film stock; the camera angle and movements; and the integration of any special effects.

Is Johns Hopkins good for film? ›

In addition, Johns Hopkins University has been recognized in the top 50 film schools of 2020 and 2021 by The Wrap News Inc., an industry-focused news organization.

What is MFA screenwriting? ›

The 2-year MFA in Screenwriting program is an intensive program designed to encourage the development of your unique storytelling voice through the exploration of the intricacies of story structure and character development.

Do film majors make money? ›

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that film and video editors earn median annual wages of $62,650. Professionals who live in California, New York, and New Jersey earn the highest salaries. Metropolitan areas with the most job opportunities include Los Angeles, New York City, and Atlanta.

What percentage of film majors get jobs? ›

92% Graduate Job Placement Rate

Since 2010, 92% of graduates from the Digital Filmmaking Programs (AAS Degree & Professional Certificate) have gotten jobs in the entertainment industry.

Do film majors need math? ›

In a very important sense, almost every aspect of filmmaking is heavily dependent on math. This is because the process of filming a movie involves the use of equipment that is based on different forms of science and technology, which in their turn are founded on the strict application of mathematical principles.

How hard is it to get into American film Institute? ›

The AFI Conservatory has a less than 1% acceptance rate and is considered to be one of the best film schools in the world as 81% of alumni are top creative professionals; the school has produced 149 Academy Award Nominees and around 30 Academy Award winning alumni.

Does Nyfa have a campus? ›

Located in historic Battery Park overseeing the Statue of Liberty, our New York City campus offers BFA degree programs in filmmaking and acting for film as well as numerous short-term workshops and one- and two- year programs in filmmaking, acting, photography, musical theatre, and much more.

What is the acceptance rate at Juilliard? ›

Is Nyfa a private school? ›

U.S. New York Film Academy – School of Film and Acting (NYFA) is a private for-profit film school and acting school based in New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami. The New York Film Academy was founded in 1992 by Jerry Sherlock, a former film, television and theater producer.

How old do you have to be to go to Nyfa? ›

A: NYFA camps are available to youth between 10 and 17 years old. We have two age categories: kids, for 10-13 year olds, and teens, for 14-17 year olds who should be rising freshmen through seniors in high school. Students must fulfil the age requirement before the last day of their camp.

Is it hard to get into NYU film grad school? ›

The university is home to the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, where fewer than 3 in 20 students who apply to study filmmaking are admitted each year.

What is MFA screenwriting? ›

The 2-year MFA in Screenwriting program is an intensive program designed to encourage the development of your unique storytelling voice through the exploration of the intricacies of story structure and character development.

How do I make a film school portfolio? ›

3 Tips to Prepare Your Film School Portfolio - YouTube

What GPA do you need to get into NYU film? ›

You must have a 3.0 minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 scale. You must not be on academic or disciplinary probation.

Is NYU a good film school? ›

NYU Tisch has just been ranked the #1 film school by The Hollywood Reporter. Their announcement highlights the school's accomplished alumni network and ability to mount student film productions in these unprecedented times.

Do you need an MFA to be a screenwriter? ›

Those who don't necessarily want to write scripts but are intrigued by teaching screenwriting at the college or university level will be required to have earned an MFA in the field, so if your passion lies in helping students achieve their screenwriting career goals, you'll want to pursue an MFA.

Can you get a masters in screenwriting? ›

A masters degree in screenwriting is a program that is ideal for students who have a passion for writing audience-engaging stories that are meant for visual medium and for people who wish to pursue a career as professional screen writers.

What is script writing called? ›

Screenwriting or scriptwriting is the art and craft of writing scripts for mass media such as feature films, television productions or video games. It is often a freelance profession.

Is a film degree worth it? ›

Not only does film school help you in the field, but it can also aid in your post-graduate job hunt. Listing a film degree on your resume can increase your chances of being hired by a production company, editing house, or writer's room. This is because employers recognize the skills it takes to complete a film program.

Do I need a portfolio to get into film school? ›

You don't need experience or a portfolio to apply to film school if that's something you want to do. Keep researching which schools don't require them, but we recommend having a project or video in your back pocket that you're passionate about.

How do I make a portfolio for my cinematographer? ›

3 Tips for Creating a Cinematography Portfolio Website - 5 Examples


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