MCAD emphasizes a collaborative process and working with students from all majors. For this Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, you will take courses in several different areas, including a core focus, adding up to 120 total credits required for graduation.
Required Courses - These are the core courses that every Filmmaking student takes.
Foundation Studies - These classes help you build a solid art background to become a well rounded student.
Studio Electives - Throughout your studies you can choose from several studio electives that will give you hands on time.
Humanities and Sciences Electives - These classes round out your experience at MCAD, deepen your creative practice, and fulfill non-studio requirements for a degree.
Reference the history of film through written critical evaluation and analysis.
Show a working knowledge of visual composition, lighting, editing, sound, and finishing.
Demonstrate understanding of pre-production, production, and post-production processes including budgeting.
Establish an understanding of crew positions and their responsibilities.
Structure motion picture projects to express narrative, concept, and/or theme.
This course is an introduction to telling stories in film. It introduces historical and critical issues of film language, and provides a theoretical and technical foundation for future work. Principles of cinematography and continuity editing are applied through assignments in the forms of documentary, narrative, and music video. Technical processes and practices demonstrated include preproduction planning, shooting, basic lighting, sound recording and mixing, and digital editing. Equal attention is availed to technical and artistic concerns in screenings, lectures, discussions, technical demonstrations, and evaluations. Each student develops their own creative work through the completion and critique of individual and group projects and exercises.
This course is an introduction to professional narrative production. Students learn the fundamentals of the narrative filmmaking production processes through the completion of a series of short films and exercises. Topics covered include methods of narrative production, assembling and working with a crew, scripting, preproduction planning, production, and post production. Techniques taught include digital cinematography using Red, Sony F3, and DSLR cameras, follow focus, composition, camera movement, editing, portable lighting, and sound production. The course provides students with the skills they need to complete their work through lectures, demonstrations, screenings, critiques, and visiting artists.
Through the production of a series of short films, students explore various forms of documentary production, including newsreel, reportage, cinema-verite, reality television, and modern documentary forms. Students learn how to make films from life and the limits, ethics, and opportunities of depicting reality. Techniques taught include research, preproduction, working with small crews, field video production equipment, sound recording techniques, lighting, and editing. In addition to critiques, discussions, and technical demonstrations, a selection of films are screened and analyzed during the course.
This course is an introduction to experimental film and video production. Key topics and techniques covered include experimental production methods, the hybridization of genres, and alternative modes of distribution and exhibition. Additional techniques taught include but are not limited to 16mm film processes, found footage, field recording, and DIY technology. Readings and screenings contextualize the course’s experimental production techniques, offering an overview of the history of experimental cinema and exploring a range of cultural, formal, political, and historical issues emerging from alternative filmmaking practices. Each student develops short films and videos through the completion of group and individual projects.
This class provides a comprehensive overview on the post production process for moving-image work, including film, video, and animation. Each step of the post process is examined—including planning productions with the edit in mind, file management, logging and ingestion, rough- and fine-cut editing, color correction and grading, integrating audio and visual effects, and mastering and output of the finished work. Students develop an understanding of pacing, montage, rhythm, and two- and three-dimensional continuity of the cut, as well as specific techniques to solve difficult post production issues. This class examines the technical and theoretical considerations of editing and post production for a wide variety of genres such as narrative, experimental, documentary, commercial, and industrial, and it provides students with the skills to apply them to their own work. Class instruction includes screenings, group and individual projects, visiting professionals, critiques, and readings on the theories of prominent editors, filmmakers, and theorists, both historical and modern.
This course is designed to provide students with a basic understanding of the aesthetic, technical, theoretical, and conceptual issues related to artificial lighting used in the various aspects of still and moving image production. Technical information covered includes portrait lighting, studio set lighting, architectural lighting, electronic flash, continuous light, camera movement, blocking for actors, and color compensation. In addition to the technical and practical aspects of this course, students are expected and encouraged to develop a personal aesthetic and a conceptual foundation for their images.
Directing Actors is an acting class for directors. Students learn a variety of classic teaching methods including The Method by Stanislavski and contemporary techniques of acting for the camera. Students participate in acting exercises, observe one another’s abilities to stay in the moment, learn the vulnerabilities of being a professional actor, and prepare a complete scene for a final video project.
Designed to acquaint students technically and conceptually with the medium of sound, this course provides a basic working vocabulary for understanding, discussing, and producing sounds. Topics covered include basic perceptual concepts and fundamentals of composing sound such as pitch, rhythm, duration, and volume. Students complete a series of assigned projects designed to demonstrate and assess competencies with microphones, studio recording, and digital editing, mixing, and processing.
The primary focus of this class is to provide media arts students with the tools that will enable them to enter professional practice immediately following graduation. Each student is required to produce a polished resume, artist statement, website, professional identity system, and portfolio. Topics include long-range goal creation and planning; financial, legal, and other business considerations; grant writing; and communication and marketing skills involving verbal, written, and visual presentations. Topics are presented through lectures, critiques, and presentations by experts in the field.
In Advanced Filmmaking Seminar, students complete semester-long projects with faculty guidance. Individualized consultations alternate with group lessons, screenings, readings, and critiques to address scriptwriting, idea development, character development, and style. The class includes instruction in the interface of film and video in post production. Students develop professional techniques for production planning and budgeting, scripting, casting, location, set etiquette, and editing. Advanced students complete a film that is ten minutes (minimum) in length. All students are required to assist other students in their productions and attend all classes. Papers and presentations on relevant artists, themes, and films are required contextual research.
Choose to pursue an internship or an additional studio elective
During senior year, each media arts major is required to develop and complete a substantial work or body of work in their major. This course provides a forum for the critical evaluation of this work and curatorial guidance in preparation for the Commencement Exhibition. Course content includes critical readings, position paper, visiting artists, individual and group discussion, and informational meetings.
Foundation: 2D is an introduction to creative thinking that develops students’ skills in research, observation, interpretation, and self-expression. An emphasis is placed on exploring new ways to read and see the world, as well as new ways to report on it. Students learn basic two-dimensional principles through the use of various media, tools, materials, and processes. As a result, students develop a visual and verbal language for analyzing, organizing, shaping, and communicating two-dimensional form and meaning.
This course is an introduction to understanding of visual creation for the development of knowledge, imagination, and perception. Students are introduced to basic three-dimensional concepts as well as materials and technical production processes. Classroom activities include shop demonstrations of tools and techniques, information, lectures, and discussions appropriate to promote the balanced fusion of practice and theory.
Foundation: Drawing 1 is an introductory drawing course designed to prepare students for study in all majors of the college. Students develop basic drawing skills, including the ability to perceive and express visual relationships, organize a two-dimensional composition, and depict and manipulate form, space, and light. Students work from direct observation of still life, interior space, and landscape.
Students are introduced to digital resources at MCAD while exploring digital media. Areas covered include the Service Bureau, Gray Studio, and Media Center, along with other digital resources. Students use a variety of software and hardware to learn the basics of working with recorded media, including video, sound, and photography, as well as developing critical language for discussing media and media artists.
Building on the knowledge acquired in Foundation: Media 1, this course engages students’ skills in observation, recording, editing, critical analysis, and conceptualization within media arts. Through discussions, lectures, and creative projects, students explore various modes of media presentation and the power of moving images and multimedia work. Using digital technologies to deepen their media and technology foundation, students explore complex concepts and techniques for creating impactful work.
Everything we make has its beginning as an idea, which takes form as an artist/designer makes a series of decisions to guide its creative evolution. This course is designed to help students explore the development of new ideas and their own process of making. Students also create visual tools to track their creative process from idea through construction and then to post production analysis. The course consists of discussions, critiques, exercises, and visual logs.
Practice is more than working methods: it’s the context, marketing, and creative space that maintain creative work. Contemporary Practice introduces students to the foundations, variety, and tools of a professional practice. Students upgrade websites and documentation, enter contests, and create professional presentations of their work. Classes consist of lectures, student presentations, and guest speakers from a wide range of disciplines.
Choose BFA studio courses to take as electives; amount determined by your major.
The objective of this course is to familiarize students with the major stylistic, thematic, cultural, and historical transformations in art history from prehistoric times to the nineteenth century. This course helps students develop critical tools for the interpretation and understanding of the meaning and function of art objects, architecture, and design artifacts within their original historical contexts. Class sessions consist primarily of lecture with some discussion.
This course introduces students to issues in modern art, popular culture, and contemporary art and design. Topics may include the expanding audience for art, the transformation of the art market, the impact of new technologies, the changing status of the artist, and the role of art in society. This course is taught as a seminar with some lecture.
Key to the creative and critical growth of the engaged, successful artist is participation in a culture of writing and inquiry. Students in this course focus on the kinds of writing they will encounter and produce in their coursework at MCAD and as creative professionals. Regular writing workshops allow students to concentrate on experiential and practical approaches to writing. Students explore a variety of texts and objects through class assignments, and then develop clear compelling essays employing a variety of rhetorical and narrative strategies.
Creative or professional writing elective
Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning classes increase students’ appreciation for the power of scientific and quantitative approaches to knowing the world.
6 credits of histories, places, philosophies electives
The Liberal Arts Advanced Seminar enables students to pursue their own research and writing goals within a seminar setting. Projects are student-originated and consist of both a written piece and a public presentation. Class sessions are discussion-based and interactive. Group learning is emphasized
Using a global and historical perspective, this course examines the rise and spread of European colonialism and its impact on artistic practices in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Through a series of case studies, students will explore the ways in which European forms of image-making underwrote and facilitated the colonial project and the multiple modes through which picturing practices oﬀered a venue for both colonizer and colonized to articulate, define, and forge political and social relationships. In each case, indigenous and hybrid forms of art-making will be highlighted alongside European forms in order to understand how the visual arts served as an expression of identity, cultural belonging, and self-fashioning. Topics will be explored by urban centers: Paris, Algiers, Shanghai,
Mumbai (Bombay), Cairo, Istanbul, Port-au-Prince, New Orleans, and other sites.
Most Native American tribes do not have a word in their languages for “artist,” yet the arts are a living part of both daily life and ceremonial tradition. Focusing on the works of selected tribes, students in this course look at Native American art, architecture, and aesthetics. Emphasis is placed on the nineteenth century to the present. The impact of outside forces on continuities and changes in traditional forms is also explored. Classes are primarily lecture with some discussion.
This course examines the art of Asia from its beginnings to the present day. It involves a regional approach, focusing on representative works from India, Southeast Asia, China, and Japan. While regional characteristics are emphasized, cross-cultural influences are also studied. Through a variety of media, including sculpture, architecture, and painting, students gain an understanding of the broad themes and concepts that run throughout Asian art. Students consider the role of religion, for example, and gain a basic comprehension of Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Islam, Taoism, and Shinto. The structure of the class includes lectures, large and small group discussions, and visits to the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
This course will examine Islamic art and architecture through religious, historical, political, and cultural practices from the seventh century to the present. Combining a thematic approach (such as kingship, gift exchange, identity, etc.) with the more traditional chronological and geographical approaches, this course will trace the visual and material culture of Islam and its global influence
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the visual art of African Americans from the Colonial period to the present. The course examines a variety of visual media from painting, sculpture, and photography to popular culture objects and mass media images. In addition, students critically examine the ways in which the constructed meanings of "blackness" intersect with representational practices of gender, sexuality, and class, as well as the training and education of artists, public and private patronage, and the history of arts criticism and art history. Class sessions include both lectures and discussions.
This course examines the impact and effects of globalization on the visual culture of the Atlantic world (defined by Europe, Africa, and the Americas) from the period of the Columbian encounter to the contemporary moment. Students examine the circulation and exchange of goods, ideas, knowledge, culture, and peoples across the Atlantic world through an investigation of visual representations, performance, and collecting practices. The course narrative is guided by thematic issues of gender, race, the politics of display, and national and cultural identities, tracing the movement of visual cultures across the Atlantic through individual case studies. This course fulfills a Histories, Places and Philosophies requirement for Humanities and Sciences.
Duke Ellington once said, “the pull of jazz music in American culture is so strong that no one can resist it.” Jazz is truly an American treasure that has influenced other cultures around the globe. Yet most Americans know very little about its history. This class explores jazz from its roots to its most current forms. Hear the music, study its contributions, and explore the cultural patterns and trends that surround its development. Class sessions are a mix of lecture and discussion, with some demonstrations of performance styles.
This course uses standards for information and media literacy (from the Association of College and Research Libraries and others) to explore issues related to queer identities, representations, methodologies, theoretical applications, and interpretations. Using the framework of literacy as a benchmark, students learn how to read "for and from the queer" in a variety of media.
Race and ethnicity have played significant, complicated, and more often than not misunderstood roles in the United States’ history. This course surveys the ways race and ethnicity have been constructed and understood by Americans from the colonial era to the present, focusing on the ways that class, gender, culture, and politics, as well as biology, have defined race and the way race and ethnicity have supported ideologies that have been used to both empower and subordinate the peoples of the United States.
This course offers students a hemispheric perspective on the study of literature, focusing on a range of works from underrepresented, marginalized, and outsider authors in the Americas from the nineteenth century to the present. Students have an opportunity to challenge conventional categorizations of writers from across the Americas—not just in the United States—by fostering transnational and transhistorical perspectives while considering concepts including identity, race, citizenship, hybridity, and nationhood.
This course introduces students to global fine arts production (drawing, painting, sculpture, artists’ books, performance, public, and socially engaged) since 1945. Using a series of case studies this class examines the historical, theoretical, and aesthetic developments in and relationships between fine arts media. Students engage with a combination of primary and secondary texts, apply visual analysis skills, contextualize artworks, and investigate various political and aesthetic points of view.
This course traces the history of applied arts and designed objects through furniture, products, packaging, and multidimensional forms of graphic design. Students examine applied arts and designed objects as part of an evolving human culture of habit, convenience, and status. Various movements and styles within the histories of design genres, as well as the processes and manufacturing of consumer objects are considered.
Since the advent of print and the printing press, text, image, graphic design, comics, and advertising have played significant roles in cultural formation. This course examines the history of mass reproduction of printed matter from the advent of modernity, including books and periodical designs, to the present.
The production and reproduction of static, moving, and digital images have grown from work produced by an exotic technology used only by specialists to a socially ubiquitous representational form that generates millions of images, clips, cartoons, gifs, shorts, and films daily. This course surveys the development of (re)produced and moving images from their commercial applications, entertainments, and art to the all-pervasive media in which our popular cultures and artistic cultures exist. Individual artists and makers, as well as their works and contextualized movements within changing technological, economic, and institutional frameworks, are considered.
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