Award season is in full bloom.
Film enthusiasts, fashionistas and the media are thoroughly engaged in the recognition that is synonymous with this time of year. So it seems like a good time to talk filmmaking shop.
I recently had the chance to sit down with Ron Saks, Chair of the Cinematic Arts Program at Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD). He was thrilled to share with me that CCAD has become a potential feeder school for the American Film Institute Conservatory’s (AFI) MFA program. That’s a feather in the cap for any college, given that AFI was recently ranked the #1 film school in the world by The Hollywood Reporter. The world-renowned AFI Conservatory offers a two-year MFA degree in the filmmaking disciplines of: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting.
So, how does an art college located in the heartland of Ohio gain the attention of this top film school? Clearly, CCAD has something special going on. I find things usually begin at the top, and Ron and his team are no strangers to the world of making movies. But the students coming out of the program have to have the technical skills, instincts and creativity to make the cut.
Two undergraduate majors at CCAD directly focus on the world of digital media; Animation and Cinematic Arts. Coursework begins with the basics of drawing, (including human anatomy), design and photography, moving on to emphasize narrative development and storyboarding. Continued study focuses on character design, effective layout and timing, lighting, and the relationship between story and sound. The end result is fluency in both two and three dimensional animation.
Cinematic Arts majors take exploration of the medium in different directions, developing a deeper understanding of light, sound and motion. They explore how and where animation integrates with motion graphics, photography, video, and interactive design. Career-wise think web design, stop-action photography, production design, visual effects and computer game design. In both majors, students work across disciplines, growing through hands-on practical exploration.
Beyond traditional classes are project-based workshops, bringing together students from across the spectrum of art and design disciplines, giving them opportunities to blend their strengths and integrate ideas. Students also participate in the CCAD Animation Student Collective, which provides guest speakers, workshops, and additional tutorials and demonstrations.
The school’s coolest new opportunity for exploration is MindMarket. A place where innovation, entrepreneurship and business intersect, it gives CCAD’s faculty and students the chance to solve real-world design challenges.
So at this point you may be asking yourself, what does it take to get into this type of program? Ron stated it clearly, “if you’re creative, have a strong visual sensibility, consider yourself to have a unique voice or perspective, and are committed to a career that is based in art,” then this could be the field – and the place for you. Open-minded individuals with a strong portfolio and strong grades should apply.
CCAD’s comprehensive, inter-disciplinary approach to digital media studies provides students with the skills to create the overall look of a film from top to bottom. As a large feeder school to UCLA, School of Visual Arts, and USC, it’s really no surprise that AFI should get in the game.