Film & Digital Media

Idyllwild Arts Academy

Priority Application Deadline for Fall 2019: January 15, 2019

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.

Portfolio Requirements

The Idyllwild Arts Film & Digital Media Department’s conviction that storytelling is crucial to successful filmmaking determines our requirements for application materials.*

Therefore all Film & Digital Media applicants must submit:

    • A 2 to 4 page essay about a life-changing moment. Tell us a story about something that happened to you or something you witnessed that had a profound impact on your life.
    • Creative writing samples or works of art that you have produced in the last year. The writing sample may be in any format, including screenplay, play, short story, poem, or even stream of consciousness. The art work may be in any medium, including film, video, photography, performance piece, painting, sculpture, a creative website, a creative Instagram account. . . anything that helps us know more about you as an artist. Submit as many samples as you like.
    • A short video introducing yourself. Record a 3 to 5 minute monologue or narrative (starring yourself!) on the topic, “Why I Want to be a Filmmaker.” Tell us in a creative and fun way why you are motivated to be a filmmaker. Tell us imaginatively who you are.

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

For specific questions regarding the Film & Digital Media admission process, please contact:
Jara Ruiz-Anchia at 951.659.2171 x2347 or

Film & Digital Media Courses Offered 2018-2019
  1. Screenwriting
  2. Screenwriting II-III
  3. Production Script
  4. Directing the Narrative
  5. Directing Actors
  6. Staging & Blocking
  7. Staging & Blocking II-III
  8. Field Production
  9. Cinematography
  10. Cinematography II-III
  11. Advanced Cinematography
  12. Shot Design
  13. Shot Design II-III
  14. Editing
  15. Editing II-III
  16. Advanced Editing
  17. Aesthetics of Editing
  18. Visual Effects
  19. Virtual Reality Production
  20. Music & Sound Design
  21. Music Video
  22. Documentary
  23. Film History
  24. Production Workshop
  25. Capstone Film
  26. Post Production Seminar
  27. 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.

Production Script focuses on screenplays going into production. Students enter with a screenplay to which they apply or a well developed idea. Utilizing professional production software, screenplays are polished and broken down for shooting.

Directing the Narrative focuses on 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. Students learn to break a screenplay down for performance beats. Additionally they learn to hold professional audition sessions.

Staging and Blocking teaches students to utilize physical action as a storytelling tool. The process includes script analysis—identifying performance beats on the page; staging actors to deliver performance beats; and choreographing the actors with the camera—putting the camera in the right place for capturing the performance. The course culminates in a shot list that best delivers the scenes intent to the screen through performance.

This advanced level course applies the principles of Staging & Blocking to the student’s own screenplay, in preparation for production.

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.

Beginning with still photography and progressing to cinematography, this course focuses on the aesthetic, expressive and technical qualities of the image. Students work with digital still cameras and prime lenses to learn the principles of design, rules of composition, exposure and color theory, and photography retouching. Once the fundamentals are mastered with stills, students apply their skills to the moving image.

Cinematography students work with digital 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.

Advanced Lighting & 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.

12) SHOT DESIGN (semester-long)
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.

This advanced level course applies the principles of Shot Design to the student’s own screenplay, in preparation for production.

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.

Intermediate Editing focuses on advanced postproduction techniques and visual effects. The students understand the workflow of high-end post-production and learn to use more 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.

16) ADVANCED EDITING (semester-long)
Advanced Editing applies Aesthetics to advanced level skills in editing.

Aesthetics Editing focuses on aesthetics, examining editing as an art form and 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.

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.

Immersive storytelling through 360 video. A production course that explores the unique nature of narrative storytelling and documentary in a 360 environment. Students will make a narrative short VR film and a documentary VR film.

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.

Capston 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.

This mentor-based course gives exclusive attention to the Post Graduate student, mentoring them through all phases of production on their own film: screenwriting, directing, cinematography and post production. The course is designed to complement the student’s work in other courses at the individual student’s level of expertise upon entry into the program.

Students help to maintain the studio and equipment. 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 for filmmakers coming after them. 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
Film & Digital Media Faculty
Film & Digital Media Faculty
Film & Digital Media Faculty
Film & Digital Media Faculty / Dorm Parent

Some Past Films from Students:



“Plastic Macro”


“Lily Needs a Ride”


2017 Film Posters – Designed by Students: