About the Program
The film program provides highly motivated and talented students with intensive training in all aspects of filmmaking.
Students develop significant skills in directing, cinematography, editing, production, scriptwriting, and film analysis. By the end of the sophomore year, students consult with the film faculty and choose to focus on either fiction, documentary, or experimental film in their junior year.
The primary emphasis of the BFA program is on directing. At the end of the junior year, however, film majors who have demonstrated exceptional talent in cinematography or screenwriting have the option of specializing in those areas, subject to approval by the board of study. The board’s decision is based on demonstration of the student’s technical and artistic proficiency.
Film majors enjoy a high equipment-to-student ratio and have access to a fully equipped sound stage, mix studio, equipment store, screening rooms, and digital editing studios.
About Our Alumni
More than 85 percent of film program alumni have found work in the film and television industries. These are just a few of our representative alumni: Jessica Brunetto, Ilya Chaiken, Austin Chick, Rocco Caruso, Bob Gosse, Nick Gomez, Brandon Harris, Hal Hartley, Azazel Jacobs, Lesli Klainberg, Dani Michaeli, Whitney Ransick, Jimmie Joe Roche, Jeffrey Schwarz, James Spione, Chris Wedge, and Julia Wrona.
The original objective of the film program at Purchase College — articulated by Willard Van Dyke, its founder, documentarian, and former director of the film department at the Museum of Modern Art (1965 to 1974) — was to train a pool of talented filmmakers who would not only find professional employment within the industry but also influence the nature and scope of the national and world cinema. Central to this mission, the program would be part of a public institution.
Building on structures designed by its first teachers (Willard Van Dyke, Miriam Arsham, Aram Avakian, Richard Rogers, and Tom Gunning), the program asks each student to graduate as originators (writer/directors), while developing proficiency in the other areas of production.
- After an introductory year of basic production, editing, cinematography, storytelling, cinema studies, and acting, sophomores take yearlong courses in both documentary and narrative while continuing their skill and cinema studies training.
- In the junior year, students choose a two-term specialization in one of three production areas (narrative, documentary, experimental).
- In senior year, students produce a thesis film. By requiring students to write and direct their own films while crewing on their cohorts’ films, we continue to foster confident, independent artists who are also capable of the intense teamwork required by the profession.
- Additionally, film majors must demonstrate an ability to think and write critically in six courses in cinema studies (specifically designed for filmmakers).