California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) - Program in Film and Video Reviews & Admissions Statistics

4.00 star(s) 4 Stars (2 Reviews)
School Website
Degrees Offered
  1. 4 Year BFA
  2. 3 Year MFA
  1. Film & Television Production
Tuition Range
$50k to $60k
Undergraduate Deadlines
January 5
Graduate Deadlines
January 5

Film School details

Undergrad Student Body
Undergraduate Class Size
Graduate Class Size
  1. Student owns all copyrights
Start of Production Classes
  1. Freshman
Camera Equipment
  1. Unknown
Software Used
  1. Adobe Premiere
  2. Pro Tools
  3. Maya 3-D
Filmmaking Facilities
  1. Sound Stage(s)
  2. Sound Recording Studio
  3. Editing Bays
  4. Screening Rooms
  5. Sound Mixing Room(s)
  1. School provides resources to help find internships
  2. School places students in internships
Job Placement
  1. School Organizes Film Festival
  2. Unknown
Application Fee
SAT or ACT Required?
  1. No
Portfolio Required?
  1. Yes
Letters of Rec Required
  1. 2 (Graduate)
  2. 3 (Graduate)

The Program in Film and Video is designed for students who use film and video as media for personal expression and exploration—those artists for whom independent film and video is a calling and not simply a mode of production. In the workshop environment cultivated by the program, each student develops and refines his or her practice as a respected member of a community of artists.

Individually and collectively, the program’s faculty is broad in its sympathies and interests. The program supports an unparalleled breadth of work—from personal essays and political documentaries to experiments in narrative, from lyrical and abstract films to installation and expanded cinema. Students acquire a full range of technical and practical skills, learn to think critically about their chosen media, and work to develop a precise language and aesthetic for personal articulation.

The faculty maintains that, as filmmaker Fernando Solanas once put it, “the possibility of making a new cinema completely outside the system depends on whether or not filmmakers can transform themselves from ‘directors’ into total filmmakers. And no one can become a total filmmaker without being a film technician, without being capable of handling the production.” To enable students to understand the fundamental processes of film and video production, the first year of both the undergraduate and graduate curricula is devoted to rigorous technical training, including core workshops in 16mm film production, video production, sound production and editing. These workshops also help students to acquire a valuable set of vocational skills—abilities that can serve as a future means of financial support as graduates of the program pursue their own personal work.

Importantly, the Program in Film and Video embraces the rapid technological changes that are broadening and democratizing access to the means of making films and videos. Students are encouraged to develop and utilize these new potentials in order to better control the means of production and thus assert themselves as truly independent artists.

Program faculty also believe that a division between “production” and “critical studies”—now prevalent in most American film schools—is detrimental to both areas of study. Critical studies classes are a vital part of the curriculum, especially during the first two years of the undergraduate program; and film and video artists are expected to know the histories and theoretical traditions of their chosen media, so that they can make fully informed artistic decisions during the development of their work.

Undergraduate Application Requirements

  • Portfolio (up to 10 minutes)
  • Artist Statement
  • List of Works Submitted
  • Comments on Influences
  • Future Project Plan
  • Resume
  • Optional Supplemental Creative Writing Sample (Do not submit scripts or screenplays)
  • Video Introduction (optional)
  • 2 Letters of recommendation

Graduate Application Requirements

Same as undergraduate but requires 3 Letters of Recommendation

Notable Alumni

  • James Mangold writer-director (Walk the Line, The Wolverine)

Scholarship Opportunities

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DISCLAIMER: The information on this page is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time it was last updated. PLEASE verify with the school ALL due dates and requirements as they may have changed since our last update. If any info on this page is incorrect please let us know and we will update it. We are not responsible for missed deadlines or rejected applications due to out of date information on this page. Please do your due diligence.

Latest Film School Reviews

CalArts Film/Video Undergrad
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: BA/BS/BFA
  • You're making films starting your first week
  • Freedom to explore whatever you want
  • Faculty that are committed to having regular meetings
  • A diverse student body
  • Supportive of interdisciplinary projects, however you must initiate it
  • Many unique resources you won't find elswhere
  • Too expensive
  • Faculty are running out of steam
It's primarily an art school, with the resources of a film school. Some moderately up-to-date equipment, a lot of super rare analog equipment you won't have a chance to work with elsewhere.

Some faculty positions are constantly in flux, such as the Cinematography position, they can't seem to get it right. The sound department seems very robust, everyone in there is highly skilled. The animators are amazing, take some of their classes (Experimental Animation, not Character)

Have an idea of what kind of filmmaker you want to be and write it down somewhere before attending - there's a ton of amazing work being made or attempted here, but some find they're caught in a popularity contest instead of staying true to themselves. There's the potential to mold any experience you want out of CalArts, truly, but it will take self-initiative. Particularly if you want to be making narrative films - and if so, befriend the MFA Film Directing students, they are narrative focused.
1.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
2.00 star(s)
4.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
2.00 star(s)
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Facilities & Equipment
3.00 star(s)
4.00 star(s)
3.00 star(s)
Anonymous recommends this film school
2 members found this helpful.
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Reactions: AdrianC
Are they at least generous with financial aid?
CalArts Film/Video Undergrad Experience
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: BA/BS/BFA
  • They have knowledgable faculty
  • Extensive film/video library collection
  • Access to visiting filmmakers with opportunities for one on one workshops with them.
  • Collaboration between undergrad and graduate film students is frequent.
  • Interesting array of film classes. Undergrads can take graduate level classes for credit.
  • Undergrads are assigned a film/video faculty mentor throughout their time at CalArts.
  • RED RAVENS are available in the cage to borrow for film shoots
  • Consistently working on new films/work
  • Faculty can be more diverse
  • Tuition is expensive
  • Further removed from Los Angeles
  • Tuition raised every year
  • Very limited scholarships
CalArts' Film program is known to be more experimental; however, I wouldn't say it focuses solely on art-house cinema or experimental cinema, but presents it in the curriculum as a method of filmmaking. I learned a lot of filmmaking theory while at CalArts through watching making films and dissecting the filmmaking styles I liked and disliked. It was a formative 3 years for me that taught me a lot about filmmaking and the filmmaker I wanted to be. I would highly recommend this program to those who want to do narrative work as well! They have great equipment and mentorship opportunities.
2.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
4.00 star(s)
4.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
2.00 star(s)
5.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
4.00 star(s)
5.00 star(s)
4.00 star(s)
Anonymous recommends this film school
2 members found this helpful.
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Reactions: AdrianC

Latest questions

Has anyone attended this school?
If you wouldn’t mind, what was the film program like?
The undergrad film/video program I would say is geared towards independent filmmaking/ art house films. The first year you have film history classes and a couple of production classes. However, you are always making films in at least 2 or 3 of your classes. If you want I can send a more detailed list of the classes offered when I was there through PM.
One member found this helpful.
I would certainly love that!

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