Film ProductionCURRICULUM


Students explore the five key disciplines of filmmaking during their year VFS. As the year progresses, students choose to specialize in two of the following disciplines, giving their portfolio the kind of focus necessary to launch a career as a professional filmmaker.

  • Directing
  • Cinematography
  • Producing
  • Production Design
  • Post-Production

Term 1 Course Descriptions

Cinematography is the art and technique of camera and lighting in the making of a motion picture film. It involves technical concerns such as camera, lens, format, and lighting instruments just to name a few, as well as various methods related to composition and subject modelling in order to tell the story. Sony HD motion picture cameras are used in Term 1, both for training and production, and Arri lighting makes up the initial tungsten package.  

This course covers the role and responsibilities of a director in script development, pre-production, production, and post-production. Students learn to tell a story cinematically, use the camera as a tool, prepare a script analysis and engage in the casting and rehearsal process with actors.

In this introductory class, students learn the incredible creative power that post-production provides the filmmaker in the following areas: picture editing, sound editing, sound mixing, music, and colour correction. Emphasis is on the overall post-production process and the larger decisions necessary in these areas, and the importance of knowing your post-production direction well before filming takes place. Hands-on learning with non-linear editing software will introduce the students to creating a project and properly organizing and naming files for the purposes of picture editorial.

Producing 1 takes students through their first journey in independent film production by providing them with the knowledge, skills, and experience to produce a zero-budget short film. By the end of the term, students have taken a film from the initial concept through the script stage all the way to production and be ready to take it into the next stage of post-production and distribution.

In Production Design 1, students learn how to create and pitch a design as part of the competition for the Term 2 show, while also learning to make effective set decoration decisions for zero-budget productions this term.

Assistant Directing 1 gives students an in-depth understanding of the roles and duties of the Assistant Director during pre-production; shows them how to properly breakdown a script to create an accurate shooting schedule; and teaches them proper set etiquette and protocol so they are ready for the location exercise in week five.

Script Development 1 introduces students to the basic concepts of screenwriting and script development, with an emphasis on understanding story structure. Students are required to write a 2-3 page scene/sequence that elicits an emotional response. Through a series of lectures and in-class exercises, students learn to recognize viable cinematic ideas, pitch proposals, and offer feedback, create and develop characters, generate conflict and write original dialogue.

This seven-week course explores the following concepts: ideology, semiotics and signification, mise-en-scene, Hollywood film style, the significance and characteristics of film form, narrative structure and POV, introduction to genre.

Term 2 Course Descriptions

In Cinematography 2, the art of camera and lighting goes further to the very core of this subject matter - visual storytelling. Students learn and apply fundamental techniques of exposure, subject modelling, set lighting, and the basic methods for moving the camera. This course helps students understand the role of the Director of Photography and how he or she adds emotion and visual style to the look of a scene. A variety of concepts, techniques, and hands-on training are combined to further essential skills on camera, lighting and gripping.

Students explore further aspects of directing technique and collaboration. The actor's approach, character analysis, advanced blocking, image systems and rehearsal styles form the foundation of the course. Students present their Term One films for in-class discussion and critique. Workshops in blocking and rehearsal emphasize the prep duties of the director and culminate in the "Studio Practicum" shoot.

This course covers procedures and techniques for picture and audio editing using non-linear editing software. Students create their own projects and begin an exploration of editing theory and aesthetics. Using footage from the short story project, students apply editing concepts in a valuable hands-on introduction to the art of constructing a dramatic scene. Students learn the basics of visual effects editing, colour correction and titling, and examine the concepts and possibilities related to sound design for drama. Finally, they properly finish, deliver, and present their final output.

Working in conjunction with the Script Development 2 course, the Producing 2 course provides students with a real world experience of helping to develop a concept and then select material and negotiate for the rights to that content. Students learn the importance of networking and pitching, and pitch a project to the class for production selection. The importance of the collaborative process with writers is the main focus, as well as the marketing, distribution and packaging of a film.

Production Design 2 teaches students the basic principles of how to develop a visual concept, design the set, create the budget, and work together in a team to build the finished set. Major topics include drafting, set design, budgeting, construction, painting, and aging. Students pitch design proposals and work together on the selected design to complete the finished set which is used in a production at the end of term. The emphasis is on applying the techniques in a workshop environment and students should expect to perform a variety of artistic and practical tasks.

Assistant Directing 2 provides students with the fundamentals of production management practices including call sheets, set etiquette, working with actors, and location management. These techniques form the basis both of managing small zero-budget films and are the foundation for developing more sophisticated skills later in the program in order to enable students to manage much larger productions.

This course enables film students to contribute creatively towards the core concept of a film without needing to write or control every part of the script. Students engage in a professional working process with students from the VFS Writing program to generate concepts of viable cinematic material, provide one-page treatments for individual stories, and participate in the writing and ultimate selection of six short scripts for production in the next term.

Students shape their stories to pre-existing set designs (as developed in Production Design 1 in Term One), and partner with a fellow student to co-write two separate—yet “twinned”—scripts that will provide the foundation for their Studio Intensive productions later in Term Two. Participants engage in concept generation of viable cinematic material, provide multiple drafts of their two scripts, and offer constructive criticism to their fellow students through workshop discussion and delivery of notes.

This seven-week course provides emerging filmmakers the opportunity to follow these styles through their inception to contemporary innovative incarnations. Following the spectrum of formalist styles to realist styles we discuss cinematic masterpieces from around the world.

Term 3 Course Descriptions

In Cinematography 3, there is a greater emphasis in the creative role of the Director of Photography in crafting the final look of the film and a deeper understanding on the power of visual storytelling. Also, the four key creative roles of the cinematography department – Camera Operator, Gaffer, Key Grip, and Dolly Grip are examined more in-depth. Through a series of lectures and workshops the students learn many of the dynamics between these roles, as well as the collaboration and interaction of the Director of Photography with other key departments – from Production Design to Visual FXs.

Directing 3 provides students with the knowledge and practical experience to work with Production Designers, Cinematographers, Post-Production and Visual Effects Supervisors, Producers, and Assistant Directors in a collaborative and effective manner that supports the film and the creative process. Major topics include casting techniques, staging scenes, and all aspects of pre-production.

In this course, students move beyond the introductory technical aspects of post-production techniques and into editorial styles and techniques that can be applied to the Term 2 Studio Projects. Students will augment the editing knowledge and experience gained from the previous term as it applies to the industry standard Avid non-linear editing software. Once again, students will properly finish, deliver and present their final output.

Producing 3 provides students with the knowledge and skills to negotiate with locations and vendors, manage relationships with the director and the crew, find solutions to budgeting and scheduling concerns, and develop the marketing strategy to create buzz for the film. Major topics in this course include Leadership & Communications, Negotiations & Fundraising, Budgeting Film Projects, Managing Production & Post-Production, and Publicity & Marketing. Major term projects include the Production Plan for the film and the Marketing & Distribution Strategy.

This hands-on course builds on the knowledge and experience the students have gained to date. Students with the highest grades from the previous term have the right of first refusal to assume the role of Production Designer or Costume Designer on six productions during the term. All students participate in the design process, from conceptualization to completion.

This three-class course presents an overview of specializations that create the magic of the movies. Each class presents a two-part lecture, and each focuses on the specialization choices selected by VFS students in Term 3. The specialization (Directing, Producing, Cinematography, Production Design, Post-Production) is described and defined, including a short history and a variety of film clips that explore the depth and breadth of each.

Term 4 Course Descriptions

In the Advanced Cine course, students go in-depth technically and creatively in many of the positions that comprise the cinematography department. For the camera portion of this term, a new digital camera is introduced along with an array of top of the line prime lenses. For the lighting and gripping portion, the students have the chance to practice new ways of moving the camera and lighting the set in different ways from realism to stylized photography. 

Advanced Directing 1 provides students with the necessary knowledge and tools for developing and refining their professional voice as Directors. Major course topics cover the study, design and direction of specific scenes such as openings, endings, and obligatory scenes in genre films. The course also provides students with the necessary observation, evaluation, exploration and thinking tools required to ensure that optimal direction and best performances are realized on set. Both creative and fiscal management techniques from a directorial perspective are covered so that directors fully comprehend the opportunities to effectively use pre-production, production, and post-production as distinct stages in bringing their vision to life.

Advanced Directing 2 provides students with a number of practical, in-depth tools and strategies to be able to deliver strong, compelling performances from the actors which are consistent with the director’s vision. Major course topics include experiencing performance from the actor’s point of view, improvisation for directors, and advanced rehearsal techniques. By the end of the course, students are able to rehearse with actors effectively, and to plan, and shoot, a three-hander scene successfully, choreographing camera movement with the performance, staging and blocking of the actors.


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  • Rs15,000

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