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School of Visual Arts in New York Announces Social Documentary Film Program
NEW YORK, NY.- Documentary films have helped shape our history and, more importantly, the stories we tell about ourselves. This program guides and supports emerging artists to fully explore the social documentary film form and, in so doing, to find innovative ways to examine and communicate the core experiences that define us. With the advent of digital filmmaking, the Internet and social networking, as well as the technologies available in camera, sound and editing—the potential to make films, and share them with an audience, has become accessible to almost everyone. However, the artistry of storytelling and the trained ability to make successful creative decisions can be elusive.

The school's MFA in Social Documentary Film gives students the opportunity to learn how to find and capture important stories that speak to a varied audience on subjects of public concern, within a social, political and cultural consciousness that can change how we view our world. The program is a hands-on and highly innovative pursuit designed to foster a vibrant agora of creative media that generates both social and aesthetic influence. Working directly with some of the most relevant and inventive nonfiction storytellers and visual journalists in the field today— as faculty, mentors and collaborators—students will gain the creative and technical experience to work in both the film and broadcast industries.

Upon completion of their studies students will be equipped with the tools that both enable and support individual expression, while fostering filmmakers who are artistically, technologically, socially and critically fluent.

The School of Visual Arts' new MFA program in documentary filmmaking provides a solid foundation in the fundamentals of nonfiction filmmaking, as well as an immersion into the critical and analytical processes necessary to conceptualize and develop significant, socially relevant film projects. This program represents the convergence of journalism, social activism and the art of filmmaking.

Within the broad spectrum, a documentary film can be personal, revolutionary, engaging, funny, political and more; simply put, social documentary films tell us more about ourselves and the world we inhabit. Working with documentarians at the top of their field as teachers and mentors in a collaborative think-tank environment, the MFA Documentary Film program at SVA will not only teach students how to tell a story; it will guide them towards a lifelong career in filmmaking.

The first year of study offers a core curriculum devoted to exploring the past, present and future of the art of documentary film while mastering tools and techniques needed to tell compelling stories. In the first year each student will complete two documentary shorts. During the entire second year the student focuses on their thesis film, and courses are designed to support them in their production. Each student will direct and edit his or her own thesis film and serve as a key production crewmember on at least one other thesis project.

Core courses in directing, producing, editing, visionary journalism, cinematography and sound will be taught by some of the most significant filmmakers in documentary today. Additionally, a weekly Process & Style screening and lecture series will welcome yet more voices from the field.

Maro Chermayeff (Department Chair, Producer, Director), Matthew Akers (Director of photography), Axel Baumann (Director of photography), Peter Chelkowski (Director of photography), Ann Collins (Editor), Maryann De Leo (Filmmaker), Deborah Dickson (Producer, Director, Editor), Michael Epstein (Producer, Director, Writer), Micah Fink (Producer, Director, Writer), Robyn Hutt (Senior Vice President truTV), Mark Mandler (Sound), Brett Morgen (Producer, Director), Bob Richman (Director of photography), Jerry Risius (Director of photography), Deborah Shaffer (Director, Producer), E. Donna Shepherd (Editor), J.T. Takagi (Sound Recordist, Filmmaker)

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