Film & Digital Media

Idyllwild Arts Academy

Film & Digital Media

Statement Of Philosophy

The Film & Digital Media program offers pre-professional training in film, television and new media production. As the industry is undergoing constant change, in both production technology and business practices, the program gives special attention to preparing students for a career that is not entirely predictable. Applying traditional skills to new digital environments and global platforms is the key. The ability to write well, create powerful images, articulate ideas, collaborate within a diverse community and adjust to new and surprising situations are the hallmarks of success.

Courses in screenwriting, directing, cinematography, editing, documentary, production design, producing and film scoring form a solid foundation. Non-traditional media and the effective use of the Internet and social media are stressed. Students are trained on industry standard equipment and professional software. Originality, self-confidence and critical thinking are nurtured.

Close proximity to Los Angeles affords a unique opportunity for students to work with Hollywood experts. Master classes and mentoring sessions are held in real-world environments: studios, production offices, location film and television sets — creating relationships between individual students and industry professionals.

Requirements Of The Department

Filmmaking is a collaborative art, but is also a hierarchy requiring strong leadership, therefore students are expected to work well with others regardless of their position on a team. Honesty, respect for others, generosity of spirit and a positive attitude are expected.

Students take four to six, 3-hour courses per week. Students devote evenings and weekends to production. Classes do not necessarily follow a sequential order and students may be placed in a course several times, until mastery is achieved. As filmmaking can be physically grueling, students are expected to be in good health. Proficiency in the English language is required.

All seniors make a senior film. Students are allowed to specialize in one area of interest, e.g., cinematography or editing, and may choose to develop a reel in their area of specialty for senior project, rather than write and direct a film.

Students must provide their own laptop computer, headphones, 2-TB hard drive, and digital SLR camera.

Audition Requirements

The Idyllwild Arts Film & Digital Media Department is founded on two basic principles: story and collaboration. We believe the most essential element of any film is the story, and we want our students to become socially relevant storytellers, educated and practiced in both classic and modern cinematic technique. Through the study of these artistic and technical skill sets, students will develop artistic identities and a collaborative creative spirit. Classes and workshops include study and mentoring in screenwriting, producing, directing, production design, cinematography, editing, post-production, film scoring, and professional equipment and software.

All Film & Digital Media applicants must submit three items:

* The Film & Digital Media Department cannot accept beginning English speakers.

  1. An essay (2 to 4 pages) about a life-changing moment: We all experience myriad life-changing moments, some big and some small. Some represent drastic change in our lives, while others represent subtle change, but all are significant. Tell us a story about something that happened to you, or something you witnessed, that had a profound impact on your life. The story must be submitted in prose format and should be 2-4 pages long.
  2. A creative writing sample that you have written in the last year. If you don’t have one already written, write a new piece. This cannot be the same as your story about a life-changing moment; it must be a completely different piece of work. Acceptable formats include screenplay, play, short story, poem, and even stream of consciousness.
  3. A short video. All kinds of people are in the film business—outgoing, shy, loud, soft-spoken, flamboyant, reserved. No single personality or personal style is best suited for the profession. With the multiplicity of career choices in the industry, any type of person can find a niche. Keep this in mind and introduce yourself to us. Record a 3-5 minute monologue or narrative (starring yourself!) on the topic, “Why I Want to be a Filmmaker.” This should tell us why you are motivated to be a filmmaker, but in a creative and fun way. It should be an imaginative reflection of who you are.
  4. Optional: visual art in the form of photography, film, video, performance piece, paintings or sculpture, a creative website (including photographs of your work), a creative Instagram account. . . anything that helps us know more about you as an artist/designer.

For specific questions regarding the Film Admission Process, please contact:
Jara Ruiz-Anchia at 951.659.2171 x2347 or

Film & Digital Media Courses Offered 2017-2018
  1. Screenwriting
  2. Intermediate Screenwriting
  3. Producing the Narrative
  4. Directing the Narrative
  5. Directing Actors
  6. Acting for the Screen
  7. Photography and Cinematography
  8. Field Production
  9. Advanced Lighting and Cinematography
  10. Shot Design
  11. Production Design (Master Classes only this year)
  12. Editing
  13. Aesthetics of Editing
  14. Advanced Editing
  15. Visual Effects
  16. Music and Sound Design
  17. Music Video (not taught this year)
  18. Documentary (not taught this year)
  19. Film History
  20. Production Workshop
  21. Junior Seminar
  22. Senior Film
  23. Senior Seminar
  24. Practicum


Screenwriting introduces students to the concepts of visual storytelling and the techniques of writing the short screenplay. From script ideas, synopses, beat sheets, and outlines, emphasis is placed on characterization, story structure, dialogue, tone and timing. Utilizing professional screenwriting software, students write several three to seven page, narrative screenplays.

Intermediate Screenwriting is a workshop-based course where students write one or two original narrative screenplays. Focus is placed on the skill of rewriting. Multiple drafts are produced from the first draft to a polished, production-ready script, ten to fifteen pages in length. In addition to professional screenwriting software, students break down their scripts for production utilizing professional, production management software.

Producing the Narrative focuses on the planning and organizational phase of filmmaking. The managerial skills of producing are applied in preparation of short-form student films. Students gain a working knowledge of professional software to create efficiency in production scheduling. They will execute producing tasks including production breakdowns, crew selection, location scouts, casting sessions and actor contracts.

Directing the Narrative focuses on the tasks that are specific to the film director, beginning with the creation of the Director’s Breakdown. Both a creative and technical process, the Director’s Breakdown forms the foundation from which all decisions, from preproduction through post, are made. Working with their own screenplays, directors create design boards, character analyses and technical breakdowns that determine production design, lighting and shot listing, casting and performance, editing style, sound design and scoring of their films. Leadership skills are specifically honed: the verbal communication skills necessary to convey vision; the people management skills required to get the best work from actors and crew; and the personal management skills necessary to handle production demands.

Directing Actors teaches the film director to work effectively with the actor in getting great performances onto the screen. Skills are developed in communication—speaking the actor’s language; recognizing film performance—differentiating film from stage; blocking—utilizing physical action as a storytelling device; script analysis—identifying performance beats on the page; and choreographing the actors with the camera—putting the camera in the right place for capturing the performance. Students also learn to hold

Acting for the Screen offers both novice actors and experienced theater actors the opportunity to develop skills in acting for film. Emphasis is placed on character and script analysis, creating a full understanding of a character’s psychology and deconstructing scenes into performance beats. From page to screen, the actor learns to utilize blocking as a communication tool for expressing character beats.

Photography & Cinematography focuses on the aesthetic, expressive and technical qualities of the
photographic image. In the first semester, students work in still photography to learn the principles of design, rules of composition, exposure and color theory, and photography retouching. Second semester, students work with film cameras, expanding their skills to aspects specific to the moving image: camera movement, shutter speed, frame rate, focus pulling, point of view, etc. The study of lighting and the use of lighting instruments and grip equipment are emphasized throughout.

Field Production introduces the student to the visual film language of shot design and the technical processes of location camera, lighting and sound. Intermediate cinematography aesthetics and skills will be introduced as well as location sound acquisition and on-set media management (DIT). Students will also learn crew positions, set etiquette and safety.

Advanced Lighting and Cinematography continues the skill development learned in Field Production, emphasizing advanced lighting theory and camera techniques. Students will have a deeper understanding of the aesthetics of cinematography and the role it has in telling the story. Emphasis is placed on the role of the Director of Photography on a film set, the relationship between the film’s director and the D.P. in designing the look of the film (lighting, shot listing, color correction) and the role of the D.P. in managing crew (camera operator, gaffer and grips) and rehearsals.

Shot Design focuses on the film director’s primary storytelling tool: the camera. Students explore the planning, composition and execution of a scene in order to better understand the camera as a storytelling device. Emphasis is placed on camera angles and movement, lighting and depth of field, color and location, and the creation of shot lists that effectively communicate the meaning of a scene. Aesthetics are also explored as a tool that further determines the emotional experience of a scene.

Production Design examines the role of the Production Designer and Art Director in film, television and new media. Students learn what art direction brings to the storytelling process, and what the job of Production Designer, Art Director, Prop Master, Set Dresser and Costume Designer entail. Topics include: breaking down the script and developing a design concept; implementation of concept through research, drawings and other pre-visualization methods; and designing a scene from the script.

Editing provides an introduction to the core skills and technical requirements to edit a project and perform basic sound corrections to the audio. Topics will cover project setup, organizing media, editing a sequence, refining sound, creating and outputting files for viewing. Students are required to edit various sequences to achieve these goals. This course completes the first part of the Avid Media Composer Certification program.

Aesthetics of Editing examines editing as an art form, exploring its unique contribution to the art of storytelling. Applying both an historical perspective and knowledge of contemporary aesthetic styles, students analyze scenes for artistic achievement and apply their understanding to their own choices, in postproduction on their own films.

Advanced Editing focuses on advanced postproduction techniques and visual effects. The students understand the workflow of high-end post-production and learn to use their advanced editing skills for creative, dramatic and artistic purposes. Each lesson is designed to cover how to use the different effects in Avid’s Media Composer software and the concepts behind their use. This course completes the second part of the Avid Media Composer Certification program.

This course introduces students to the history and development of visual effects. By examining artistic reasons behind visual effects and the associated software to achieve those effects, students will have a basic skill set to pursue effects on their own projects. Basic introductions to Photoshop, After Effects, Maya and Nuke will allow students to pursue simple effect creation and image manipulation to artistically enhance their projects.

Music and Sound Design emphasizes the creative use of music and sound in the post-production process. Students learn to build a rich and dynamic soundtrack utilizing original score, licensed music, sound effects, sound editing, Foley, ADR (additional dialogue recording) and mixing.

Music Video students learn to conceptualize, produce, shoot, direct and edit their own music videos. Students work with original music, either their own compositions or songs written by music students, to create original videos. Emphasis is placed on the creative use of production design, cinematography, lighting and editing. This course culminates in the Film Showcase.

Documentary students develop the ideas and aesthetics for a short documentary film, write scripts, conduct interviews, shoot footage, acquire “found” footage and edit their films. Topics include documentary form and style, research methodology, interview and narration techniques, working with available and natural light, shooting b-roll, quality field sound recording, and the legality of permits and releases. Ethics are also explored, in examination of the line between truth and fiction in documentary filmmaking.

Film History is a comprehensive course in the history and aesthetics of film and digital media. The material chosen for screening illustrates distinctive directorial styles, film genres, and/or national cinema styles. By concentrating on the historical development of filmic mise-en-scene, the photographic image, editing, cinematography, and the relation of sound to the image, students learn to view film as a complex picture language and to understand how the combination of sound and image articulate film’s narrative, psychological, social, and ideological purposes.

Production Workshop is the workhorse of the department. Scheduled to run concurrent with Senior Film, freshmen, sophomores and juniors work on their individual projects, hone their filmmaking skills and crew fellow films. All phases of filmmaking are employed from pre-production to production to post-production in a supervised and collaborative environment. All students prepare their films for the end of year Film Showcase and ongoing film festival submission.

Junior Seminar is divided into two parts: common sessions where all juniors participate under the direction of the college counselor and address such topics as college applications, essays, and standardized testing; and breakout sessions which address department/discipline-specific needs such as audition preparation, audition travel, and portfolio development.

Senior Film is the container for which seniors make their capstone films. Working together as a team, seniors write, produce and direct their own films; they rotate in key crew positions on fellow projects and they see their films through postproduction. Seniors prepare their films for the end of year Film Showcase and ongoing film festival submission.

Senior Seminar is required of all seniors at Idyllwild Arts. The class is divided into two parts: common sessions where all seniors participate under the direction of the college counselor and address such topics as college applications, essays, and standardized testing; and breakout sessions which address department/discipline-specific needs such as audition preparation, audition travel, and portfolio development.

Students help to maintain the studio and equipment, and to organize and manage the Film Showcase. Housekeeping is part of the professional filmmaker’s life. “Leave it the way you found it,” is the independent filmmaker’s guiding light, as it insures access to sensitive locations and expensive equipment. This course helps students develop the maturity and mundane skills necessary for a career in a highly competitive industry.

Film & Digital Media Faculty
Film & Digital Media Chair
Film & Digital Media Faculty
PT Film & Digital Media
Film & Digital Media Faculty / Dorm Parent

Some Past Films from Students:



“Plastic Macro”


“Lily Needs a Ride”


2017 Film Posters – Designed by Students: