Develop your vision in a film program that goes beyond training and convention.
The MFA Film program prepares students to create and thrive in the rapidly changing landscape of contemporary film. Our unique multidisciplinary culture provides the ideal conditions for exploring the themes and topics you care about from many perspectives, including artist, craftsperson, and entrepreneur. With the mentorship of our award-winning faculty, students strengthen conceptual capabilities, refine working methods, and expand their understanding of the moving image.
Our facilities support a wide range of filmmaking modes and production methods, from guerrilla-style, experimental, and improvisational techniques to more formal fiction and nonfiction models. Graduate students have 24-hour access to film studios, editing suites, and a sound mixing room.
MFA Film students enhance their studio practice through coursework in cinema history and theory. Led by experts in filmmaking and critical studies, these courses push students to experiment, overcome challenges, and interrogate creative decisions in their own work. Electives round out the program experience, giving students opportunities to try painting, photography, writing, and other disciplines.
Internships and teaching assistantships
Graduate students have interned with Frameline, producers of the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival; San Francisco Film Society, which organizes the San Francisco International Film Festival; and SoMArts, a cultural center for multidisciplinary events and exhibitions. Internships provide students with hands-on experience and help them build a professional network in the Bay Area. With mentorship in pedagogy from faculty, students may also work as CCA teaching assistants for undergraduate film courses.
Our faculty are working filmmakers and media artists with backgrounds in various practices, including directing, cinematography, sound design, and installation. Faculty work with graduate students one on one to expand their conceptual thinking and aesthetic approaches to film.
Co-chair Rob Epstein is a director, writer, and producer who has won two Academy Awards for the documentary films The Times of Harvey Milk and Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt. He also leads a film production company, Telling Pictures, which has won praise for the indie biopics Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried) and Howl (James Franco) at various film festivals.
Co-chair Brook Hinton has worked extensively in the film industry as an editor, colorist, and sound designer. His projects range from narrative cinema to experimental multimedia performance including Trace Garden, a found-footage séance series made up of re-edited and re-processed 16mm and Super 8 home movies.
The MFA Film curriculum covers the full spectrum of filmmaking, from knowledge of cinema history and theory to experimental modes that depart from traditional ways of thinking and making. Students are encouraged to choose electives from other disciplines, such as writing and curatorial practice, to expand their skill sets and push the boundaries of their craft. With access to a diverse range of professional and alternative practices, students are well positioned to create work that exhibits a distinct voice.
Our alumni have the networks, conceptual skills, and technical dexterity to pursue lifelong careers in filmmaking. They draw from interdisciplinary collaborations with curators and visual artists, as well as CCA teaching experiences. From commercial projects to non-traditional media, alumni find exciting opportunities that challenge them to redefine contemporary cinema.
Potential career paths
- Film editor
- Visual artist
Our two-year program is designated for those with a bachelor’s degree in film, visual studies, or a related fine arts field. Most of our applicants are self-driven filmmakers who are excited to join a collaborative community. Overall, placement is based on the strength of your portfolio and transcripts. After you submit all materials, you’ll be contacted for an online or on-campus interview with the graduate program manager or a faculty member.
You’ll need to submit three components that are common to all CCA graduate applications:
- Resume/curriculum vitae
- Two recommendation letters
- Unofficial college transcripts
Additionally, you’ll submit a portfolio and personal essay that are tailored to your specific master’s program.