Filmmaking (BA)

We teach collaborative filmmaking from day one at Columbia College Chicago. In the Filmmaking Bachelor of Arts program, you’ll create thought-provoking and emotionally complex films with professional equipment and state-of-the-art production facilities.

As a Filmmaking student, you’ll develop team-building, communication, and creative-planning skills that will enable you to lead teams in any creative setting. You’ll think analytically about the filmmaking process from concept development to screen, and learn to write, produce, direct, and edit effectively. Being well rounded will help you secure jobs in the independent and Hollywood film industry.

student production shoot at the media production center


Degrees Available

Columbia College Chicago offers two similar options for film-related degrees: a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Filmmaking and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Cinema Art and Science. The Filmmaking BA might be the best choice for you if you want a broad overview of filmmaking or want to create more experimental work. The Cinema Art and Science BFA is about specialization: you'll select a concentration and focus your studies in one aspect of the filmmaking process.

View course requirements:

In the Classroom

What to expect your first year

In the first semester of the Filmmaking bachelor’s degree program, you’ll take two foundations courses: Cinema Notebooks, a course focused on critical analysis, and Cinema Image and Process, a hands-on filmmaking course in which you’ll put theory to work by making films. You’ll spend much of your day learning, working, and building relationships with fellow filmmakers.

You’ll also have opportunities to work on sets of many of the high-quality films made at Columbia College Chicago each year. We encourage students at all levels to collaborate on projects, and we host meet-and-greets so you can seek out creative partners. Your instructors will provide the guidance and feedback you’ll need to create and improve your work. You’ll write, shoot, edit, and repeat to hone your craft as a filmmaker and build your portfolio and online presence. 

What to expect your last year

With the help of staff at the Career Center, many seniors develop a resume, web portfolio, reel, website, and strong social media presence. You’ll work on either advanced-level film projects within the department or commercial projects outside the college. You might also participate in the Semester in LA (SiLA) program, during which you’ll work on an active studio lot and intern with a West Coast production company. Senior year is the time for you to strengthen your connections within the film industry and enhance your employability.


Outside the Classroom

You’ll have countless opportunities to engage with the passionate film community at Columbia College Chicago. Here are a few examples of exciting events that take place outside the classroom:

Chicago Feminist Film Festival

Highlighting independent shorts and feature films of all genres from around the world, this three-day festival includes dozens of visiting filmmakers who mingle alongside Columbia students during screenings, panels, and other festival events. As a Columbia student, you will have the opportunity to sit on screening committees, intern for the festival, meet visiting filmmakers, or submit your own films.

Cinema Slapdown

One film, two opposing views. Watch a screening of a well-known, polarizing film or television show, followed by a moderated debate between someone who loves it and someone who hates it.

DocYourWorld

This annual, two-day micro-symposium explores how we craft truth in story, image, and sound. It is an opportunity for students, faculty, alumni, and industry partners to examine the development, creation, and instruction of nonfiction content. Attendees also discuss the reclaiming of the word “documentary,” which filmmakers are imbuing with new meaning.

FrameWork Interviews

A series of student-produced video interviews that give graduating students the chance to talk about their filmmaking processes.

Internships

Chicago is a major media market with many internship opportunities. Students from the Cinema and Television Arts Department have recently interned with agencies, production companies, shows, and venues like the APA Agency, Bigfoot Media, Cards Against Humanity, Chicago Film Archives, Fox 32 Chicago, Kartemquin Films, Metro Chicago, Paonessa Talent Agency, Showtime Networks, and Universal Music Group.


Semester in LA

Hollywood Sign, Semester in LA

Want to see what Hollywood is all about? As a Filmmaking student, you can participate in Semester in LA (SiLA), an intensive semester-long course that puts you in touch with industry professionals and gives you unparalleled experience in the area of your choosing.

Visit the SiLA website for more information about this remarkable experience and the kinds of classes offered each semester.


Alumni

Columbia College Chicago has produced many successful alumni. These alumni find work in the industry right out of college, and some have won Oscars, Emmys, and Golden Globes.

Alumni highlights

Here is a small sample of our alumni success stories:

  • Len Amato ’75 is president of HBO Films.
  • Ayanna Floyd MFA ’98 was coexecutive producer for the TV shows Empire and Falling Skies, and has writing credits on episodes of Empire, The Chi, Falling Skies, and Private Practice.
  • Janusz Kaminski ’87 is a two-time Academy Award-winning cinematographer, whose credits include Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, Lincoln, and The Post.
  • Declan Quinn ’79 has film credits as a cinematographer and director of photography for Leaving Las Vegas, 28 Days, and My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman.
  • Christian Sprenger ’07 is the Emmy Award-winning cinematographer for the TV shows Atlanta, GLOW, Baskets, and Last Man on Earth.
  • Lena Waithe ’06 is an Emmy Award-winning writer, actress, and producer of shows and films such as Dear White People, Bones, Master of None, and The Chi, and was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2018.
  • Annick Wokan ’05 is an associate producer for the award-winning TV show Game of Thrones.

Read more profiles of Cinema and Television Arts alumni.


Creative Spaces and Facilities

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We offer a number of audio and post-production facilities, equipment rental centers, professional sound stages, and TV studios equipped with industry-standard software and technology.

View the full list of facilities



Faculty

Our faculty members are working professionals, filmmakers, documentarians, and editors who stay up-to-date with industry trends and teach them in the classroom. They’re dedicated to giving you a real-world education, and they’re great resources for jobs and references once you graduate.

View all department faculty.

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Wenhwa Ts’ao

Wenhwa Ts’ao believes in stories and teaches students how to tell theirs.

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