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Chapman University - Dodge College MFA in Film Production

4.67 star(s) 4.66667 Stars (3 Member Reviews)

Film School details

Degrees Offered
  1. 3 Year M.F.A.
  1. Cinematography
  2. Digital Arts
  3. Directing
  4. Documentary Filmmaking
  5. Editing
  6. Film & Television Production
  7. News and Documentary
  8. Sound Design
Yearly Tuition
$40k to $50k
Application Deadlines
December 1
The three-year MFA in Film Production is a mentoring-focused, hands-on program that explores all aspects of film production through the use of visual storytelling techniques, industry standard tools and best professional practices. Students must choose an area of specialization at the point of application in either directing, cinematography, editing or sound design.
School URL
GRE Required?
Portfolio Required?
Film Copyright
Class Size
15 to 17
Internship Opportunities
Yes (required during summer)
Application Requirements
1) Transformational Moment Essay (2 pages),
2) Narrative Scene (3 pages), and
3) Screenplay for Short Film (20-25 pages) OR Feature Length Screenplay (115-120 pages)

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 We are not responsible for missed deadlines or rejected applications due to out of date information on this page.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 reviews

Reviewed by
  • Small, amazing, supportive student body
  • Incredible opportunities to work on great projects
  • Industry grade gear and equipment
  • Everyone is superbly committed to their discipline
  • Stellar producing, editing, sound design, cinematography track
  • Students support one another with scoring great internships
  • Non-competitive environment
  • You can do whatever you want with your film when it's done
  • Films suffer from form over function
  • Prettiest films from any film school, but our stories often suck
  • Weak directing/film studies track
  • Faculty is a mixed bag: The best teachers are adjunct faculty
  • Students don't seem very passionate about WATCHING films
  • Very annoying Thesis Committee approval process that often stifles creativity
  • Almost TOO Hollywood-centric at times.
  • Chapman prepares you for the industry, not auteurship.
  • Little to no collaboration between Screenwriters and Directors. SAD!
I did my undergrad at Chapman, earning a BFA in film production. The MFA production program is also quite good, having pumped out some really prestigious award winning thesis films as of late (ITS JUST A GUN and ROCKET both won the student Academy Award), but the MFA students on average seem a little less committed compared to the undergrads: it really feels like a BFA school more than anything. The Film Studies program is pretty wonky to be completely honest. Many of my favorite teachers aren't there full-time or have been fired as of late. But regarding my BFA in production: It was a great experience overall, especially in my junior and senior year where my workload really picked up and I made a lot of amazing friends that I still creatively collaborate with to this day. Everyone is here to help you. Making art never feels like a sport here, which is great.

Having said that, if you aren't naturally predisposed to putting your blood, sweat and tears into your projects, THEY WILL SUCK. Your teachers can only help you so much (and some teachers are outright buzzkills). The resources are out-of-this-world good, but it's up to you to take advantage of them, learn them, and really be in the thick of it. Students very quickly rise to the the top, so if you aren't on set each weekend you probably won't learn the technical side of things all too well.

The biggest piece of advice I can give you is never to forget the importance of watching films. Just because you're in film school doesn't mean the only stuff you should be watching is what the curriculum assigns you. Chapman's biggest misstep is that it never teaches a course on MAKING/WRITING SHORT FILMS, something that's very different from feature films. I highly encourage all new students to an hour or two each day to watch a feature and a short film, it's the best way to learn after doing.

Note for Directing hopefuls: Making film's gets expensive, so obviously it's important to be smart about where and how you spend your money. Because directors usually fund their films entirely, DP's get greedy with fancy lenses and cameras, but don't let yourself be discouraged. Remember that what's in front of the camera is most important (especially your screenplay and the actors performing it). As such, it's essential that you watch films in order to learn how to do this well. Don't let that shiny ALEXA and those anamorphic lenses distract you.

Finally: Chapman has some phenomenal courses in film studies, but they aren't mandatory (teachers that stand out are Kelli Fuery, Ethan Thomas Harris, Andrew Erish, etc.) but many of them are adjunct. It's a shame that directors aren't forced to take these courses, because the thesis films are so aesthetically polished that they ought to be more conceptually daring.

Remember: there is no such thing as a perfect film school. Chapman teaches STYLE over SUBSTANCE so make sure to teach yourself what your classes aren't providing. At the end of the day, it's somewhat of a craft-school, but that's not a bad thing: if you're a director it means you'll work with the most talented DP's, editors, sound designers, etc. you'll ever meet, and if you're any of the aforementioned emphases you're likely to get really good at your job and will be in high-demand post-grad.
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  • Great staff -- very approachable, esteemed industry vets / pros
  • Beautiful campus
  • Strong curriculum
  • Meaningful projects
  • Students own their films
  • Money from tuition is allocated toward film project budgets, so you don't have to raise the money
  • Amazing reputation (and growing)
  • Growing alumni base
  • Fantastic facilities
  • Very expensive (though again, a good value in relation to comparable schools / programs)
  • Slightly far from LA (especially dealing with traffic)
  • Small alumni base
  • Chapman Filmed Entertainment seems very cliquey with who they've given opportunities to
  • Classes get cancelled a little too frequently (due to adjuncts having business to attend to)
  • Still fairly new, so a lot of people outside LA/OC don't know about it
I attended Chapman's MFA Producing Program from 2010-2012, immediately after finishing undergrad. My experience was a good one overall. I produced several award-winning shorts and was taught by a lot of leading industry veterans. I met and collaborated with a lot of talented people and have kept in touch with many of them who are doing great things. I received a $4,000 per semester fellowship, which really helped with expenses.

I will say that grad school is sort of what you make it. You can just take the classes and go through the motions to get the degree, but to get hands-on experience, you'll need to put in the work. You'll need to have internships, develop side projects, shoot and edit non school-related projects, and build relationships with classmates that will turn into industry relationships in the future.

It's expensive, but it's one of the most highly-regarded film programs in the world. If you want to work in any facet of the industry, you'll be prepared. If you want to teach, you'll also be prepared. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who isn't completely dead-set on attending one of the bigger name programs just because of the name. Chapman has the same level of faculty, better facilities, and is cheaper than the others, but is just as highly-regarded in the industry.

I had to limit my pros and cons in the above, so here are the rest of the:

-Great location (beautiful area with not too much congestion)
-Great guest lecturers and screening opportunities
-Chapman Filmed Entertainment
-Opportunity to work on as many student projects as you want
-Opportunity to take classes outside your chosen track
-Tuition in reference to comparable film schools (but still expensive)
-Fellowship opportunities to alleviate tuition costs
-Don't need to take the GRE (at least when I went)
-Small class sizes for grad programs
-Always at the top of the "nation's best film schools" lists
-Chapman, in general, has a great university reputation

-Not a ton of internship opportunities through the school (you have to go out and search on your own)
2 members found this helpful.
Reviewed by
  • You own the films you make
  • Flat rate (see con as well)
  • Up to date on technology
  • Professors are top notched
  • Equipment are very well maintained
  • new campus
  • very specific concentrations (but with the ability to take other classes if you want to)
  • Relatively far from LA (it's in OC, so internships will kinda suck driving up to la or burbank)
  • Flat rate (expensive)some emphasis(es?) have higher priority to get specific classes over others
I graduated from Chapman's MFA program back in 2012 and I have to say that my experience was very positive.
I was specialized in Editing and the program was very robust.
Chapman's system is broken into a conservatory model (they kind of treat you as if you've never have any experience with film in general). Your first year is spent on the foundations/basics of film. Shooting, writing, editing, directing, etc. These are then supported by projects that you do that is meant to take you through the steps of an entire short film. You will also be taking your specialization specific courses this year as well, but at the basic level. During the first year, you are also required to assist the 2nd years in their cycle films on set and sometimes even in post. This is to help build your general knowledge of filmmaking so you don't go into the industry looking/sounding like a fool who has no idea how things are done.
your second year is the time in which you really go into the specialization of your choice (that you were accepted into). You will also be working on atleast 2 short films called Cycle Films. This is a collaboration between ALL the students from each department. At this point it really tests your ability to work in a team as well as being able to independently work and make decisions as needed.
Finally your 3rd year is all about your thesis film. All you do at this point is work on your thesis film.

Between all 3 years you have the choice to take as many classes as you want. There is an "Interterm" where you can take additional classes or just take time off, (although I would suggest you try to get into one of the filmmaking classes so you can build more experience. During summer you can also get yourself certified in programs like Avid Media Composer or ProTools.

In regards to professors, you're looking at current working professionals and also those who are very well known in the industry. Everyone that I had the pleasure of studying under have all been extremely helpful and it's entirely up to you to make use of these resources.
Equipment wise, it's very well maintained and you just need to make sure you make a request for specific cameras that might be in demand early.

In general, there is a lot of things you can learn from here, but it's up to you to go for it. I learned sound mixing and foley/adr in my free time and got certified in both Avid and ProTools, so it's just up to you on how pro-active you want to be to make use of the money you spend.
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