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Chris W

Chapman University - Dodge College of Film and Media Arts (M.F.A.)

4.7/5, 4.7 from 3 reviews
The graduate programs at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts Conservatory of Motion Pictures are designed to empower you with
  1. ImmigrantFilm
    Get What You Make Of It
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed May 2, 2017
    • + 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.
    3 members found this helpful.
    Chris W likes this.
    1. Chris W
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