Aspiring independent filmmakers must begin by applying to the Film Independent Education Institute (FITE), a nonprofit founded by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO).
“Most aspiring directors have the idea of making a movie, and then decide to go and learn how to make the movie to become a better director — but that’s not always the best path,” says Brian Rocha, a founding director of the FITE. “If you don’t know how to make the film, how are you going to go about learning about that? There is no better place to learn how to be a director now than in film education.”
FITE offers courses in filmmaking at all college campuses from a variety of programs and departments. According to the NACUBO’s website, there are nearly 500 courses for filmmakers from all walks of life. Students can choose their courses and majors according to the subject matter, and most majors require a degree.
“FITE’s students become more interested in a career as a filmmaker, and this is a good thing because it allows them a greater chance of making films. Plus, as they learn to be filmmakers, they develop more confidence that they do have the know-how to make great films,” says Brian Rocha, the founding director of the FITE. “Most students will not graduate; but they will become more confident in making films because of their education.”
Students can take one of three undergraduate courses each semester and at the graduate rate, take one of two graduate courses. If they decide that a post-baccalaureate program is more in their interests, they may be able to opt in to several graduate courses. “What our students find most interesting about graduate-level courses — and the ones that they feel are most useful — is that they learn the tools for working in independent films to get their stories told,” says Rick Gebhard, an FITE founder and director.
Many students take an MFA in filmmaking, which gives them many more options of course options than an MA has.
MFA filmmaking students often take a course in a major film, such as music, advertising, documentary or digital media. While a MFA in filmmaking does not preclude a career in film, some students take an MFA in directing before pursuing a career in the film industry. The FITE offers this option too, but students need to complete MFA and directing courses before they can pursue a documentary or digital media degree
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