This Film program at University of the Arts challenges traditional ideas about how moving images are created, inspired by the work of cutting-edge practitioners in the field, including our own faculty. Among our faculty are an Academy Award–nominated independent filmmaker and award-winning television producer; a narrative filmmaker whose last feature was a New York Times “Critic’s Pick”; and an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose most recent films were selected for the 2020 and 2021 Sundance Film Festivals. With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 8:1, you’ll have close mentoring and individual attention as you develop your creative voice.
UArts’ Film programs offer a behind-the-camera experience unlike any other. Our unique, interdisciplinary courses give you the opportunity to collaborate with students across the university, including actors, screenwriters, composers and other student artists. You can also choose to major in one of our unique hybrid majors, such as Film and Animation or Production Design.
There are no limits to the career options you'll have as with a degree in film—our programs are designed to teach you how to reach your individual goals. Our graduates become directors, editors, cinematographers, art directors and photographers, working in the region and around the world. If you're interested in filmmaking and all that is involved with it, look no further than studying at UArts.
University of the Arts Professor and Film Program Director Mike Attie’s recent short documentary, Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa, was shortlisted in the Documentary Short Subject Category for the 93rd Annual Academy Awards. The film was co-directed with Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater and features the work of numerous UArts students and alumni, including location sound by Courtney Kehr BFA ’19 (Film) and Caitlin Riggsbee BFA ’18 (Film), sound design and score by Timothy Day BM ’99 (Jazz Composition) and poster design by Angela Hanson BFA ’20 (Graphic Design).
The film is set at a Philadelphia abortion helpline, where counselors arrive each morning to the nonstop ring of calls from women and teens who are seeking to end a pregnancy but can’t afford to. In this short documentary, viewers learn how economic stigma and cruel legislation determines who in the U.S. has access to abortion.
The Academy shortlist is one of many recent accolades the project has received since its debut in 2019. The film was chosen from among 9,000 submissions to be screened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival; was an official selection of the 2019 Philadelphia Film Festival and the 2020 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival; and won the Grand Jury Prize for Short Films at the AFI DOCS Film Festival, a major nonfiction film festival in the U.S.
All this continued momentum serves to support the ultimate goals of the film: to raise awareness about the negative impact of discriminatory policies surrounding abortion—notably, the Hyde Amendment—and highlight the need for reproductive justice.
UArts Film major Skylar Watkins ‘21 just produced and directed a new music video for the band Low Cut Connie. The video is for the song “Charyse”, which is the latest single from the band’s 2020 double album, Private Lives.
Rolling Stone wrote that the video “boasts a moody, late-night feel, but one that seems filled with possibility and mystery. Watkins, who is also a photo minor and a celebrated photographer on the Philly indie music scene, met the lead singer of the band, Adam Weiner, at a photoshoot. The video is one of three music videos that Watkins is completing for her senior film thesis.
Watkins says, “Low Cut Connie gave me a lot of creative freedom in setting up the actual shoots with the models and really trusted my creative vision.” Watkins also worked with a number of current students and grads on the project, including Georgia Wescott ’21 (Photography), Kennedy Shaw ’22 (MBET), Leah Prather BFA ’20 (Film), Gabriela Barbieri BFA ’20 (Fine Arts) and Kimberly Redman BFA ’18 (Theater Design and Technology).
On Saturday, Nov. 3, the University of the Arts Film program celebrated its 50th anniversary with an event called Spotlight on Film. Attendees included alumni from the past 50 years, along with the first class to graduate, the Class of 1968. This is the first University of the Arts reunion for any class in the Film program. The event featured a panel of alumni moderated by Program Director Mike Attie.
Panelists included alumni who span the past 50 years:
Seth Kramer ’96
Kramer is a three-time Emmy nominated documentary filmmaker. He is the co-founder of Ironbound Films, which creates documentaries for theaters, television, museums and the web.
Nadia Hironaka ’97
Hironaka is a filmmaker in Philadelphia. She is currently the Chair of the Film and Video department at The Maryland Institute College of Art. In 2015, Hironaka received the Guggenheim Fellowship.
Miller Drake ’72
Drake is a visual effects editor who has worked in the industry for over 40 years. His work includes films such as The Abyss ‘99, Green Lantern ‘11, The 6th Day ‘00 and Virus ‘99.
Andrew Wheeler ’01
Wheeler is the Director of Photography on feature films, commercials and music videos. He has worked on music videos for Ariana Grande, Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino and the Netflix series Small Crimes. In 2014 Wheeler was named one of the 'Below the Line All Stars' by Variety magazine.
Vanessa Martino ’14.
Martino is a director, producer and editor. She has worked as the associate producer and editor for the documentary The Rape of Recy Taylor. She is currently a producer at Augusta Films in New York.
The panelists spoke of hardships faced as a professional in the film industry. Hironaka recalled, “I had no grand notions of making a living as an artist…To be a full time artist, it’s pretty hard. That balance of the job and your artmaking is pretty tricky...You have to love making it.” Drake chimed in with his own experience, “I remember everybody said you’re not going to make a living out of being an artist, and this was back in 1972...I remember everybody went out and got ‘regular’ jobs, and it was very hard.”
Panelists also gave advice to students to take advantage of opportunities in Philadelphia. Martino said of her own experiences at the University, “If I didn’t do all the work I did here and really build my resume on set, I don’t know if those jobs (in New York) would have wanted me." She continued, “Don’t take no for an answer. If you have faith that you can do it, any opportunity you have to show your work, do it.”
The night culminated in an announcement of the 2019 Peter Rose Film Award recipient, Kyrie Clemmer ‘20. The Peter Rose Film Award honors the legacy of experimental filmmaker and UArts faculty emeritus Peter Rose, who taught at the University for over 40 years. Rose mentored generations of filmmakers, and according to Attie, Rose described his cinematography class as “introducing different ways of seeing the world.” The award honors a student who encompasses that mission. Clemmer’s work spans documentary, narrative and experimental film; the award will fund the production of their thesis film.
The Film 50th Anniversary was truly a celebration of UArts filmmakers past and present. The event was photographed by current Film student Skylar Watkins ’21.
Watch a highlight reel celebrating 50 years of film at UArts!
Made by Alena Popolo BFA '20 (Film)
Whether your medium is animation or digital video and film, the program is dedicated to helping you bring your ideas to life. You'll work closely with award-winning faculty and other creative students to develop your skills, understand the rich history of your medium, and express your personal vision as you immerse yourself in a challenging and rewarding career.
At UArts, students have three ways to study film:
Provides you with an environment where traditional ideas about moving images are challenged.
Film + Animation
Allows you to explore the possibilities of both disciplines.
Allows you to concentrate on the creative and artistic areas of production design involved in filmmaking.
About the Film Curriculum
You’ll learn about every aspect of the business from active professional filmmakers, including an Oscar nominee and directors whose work has screened at festivals around the world. You’ll use the same equipment used by professionals, including Black Magic and Canon cameras and a full array of support gear, lights and audio recording tools. Our facilities include multiple editing labs, individual edit suites and a black box studio. Our students often find their inspiration on the streets of Philadelphia, the same city that inspired films like ‘Creed’, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and ‘Twelve Monkeys.’
In addition to creating your own films, you’ll do an internship, maybe on a film or TV show being shot in our city – or in New York, Los Angeles, or abroad. Students have numerous opportunities to explore the industry outside of our city, including a trip to the prestigious Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina or by enrolling in the Business of Hollywood class that takes students to Los Angeles for a week to meet alums working in the field.
Graduates of the Film program will:
- Express a developed personal, artistic vision
- Demonstrate technical and aesthetic proficiency in creating films
- Acquire professional film skills in a collaborative environment
- Develop an understanding of professional practices in the field of film
- Demonstrate critical thinking skills and the ability to analyze various historical and cultural contexts in film
Sample Courses in the Film Major
Art of Editing
Art of Cinema
Art of Sound
Perception of Time
Writing for Film
Introduction to Documentary
Directing Actors for the Screen
History of Narrative Cinema I and II
Color for the Lens or Interactivity
Junior Production Workshop
Film Forum (Special Topics)
Senior Film Thesis I/II
Explore the Full Film Curriculum
In the University of the Arts' Film program, you'll learn about every aspect of the business from active professional filmmakers, including an Oscar nominee and recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts, Guggenheim and Pew Foundation fellowships, whose work has been screened on PBS, at the Whitney Museum of American Art and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and in festivals around the world.
Here are a few movies, TV shows, video games, and music videos our alumni have worked on.
Center for Immersive Media
UArts’ new Center for Immersive Media (CIM) is a 5,600-square-foot facility dedicated to exploring the fields of virtual and mixed reality, performance motion-capture, and human-computer interaction.
The space includes
- Optical motion capture system for full body performance capture and location-based VR applications;
- A four-channel audio system, multiple video projectors and lighting, as well as a control station;
- 16-station computing classroom with PCs optimized for real-time graphics rendering; and
- Two large project rooms with ceiling grids for development of installations and virtual environments.
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