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 Film 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).
The short documentary Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa, co-directed by University of the Arts Film Program Director and Assistant Professor Mike Attie along with Barabara Attie and Janet Goldwater, is included on the shortlist for various upcoming documentary film awards.
The film, which follows the work of the Philadelphia abortion hotline phone counselors, is among 15 others eligible to be nominated for the Best Shorts category for the 36th annual International Documentary Association (IDA) awards. The IDA Documentary Awards ceremony—which will be held virtually in January 2021—is notable for being the “world’s most prestigious event dedicated to the documentary genre, celebrating the best nonfiction films and programs of the year,” according to the IDA website. The site also indicates that the IDA “seeks to represent excellence in the documentary field from around the world, by emerging and established documentarians.” The final list of 10 nominees will be announced on Nov. 24.
Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa was also included on the recently released DOC NYC Short List. The 12 films included will be reviewed by a jury and one will be selected for a Directing Award. In addition, this list serves as the festival’s prediction for what might be shortlisted for the Academy Awards. According to IndieWire, “Historically, most of the DOC NYC short-list titles overlap with the Academy’s official 15-film Oscar Short List.”
In reaction to these announcements, Mike Attie commented, “Of course it's very exciting to be included on these lists. We never really considered the awards potential for Abortion Helpline—it's not what you think about when making a film like this—but clearly it is striking a nerve with audiences and programmers.”
These are just the most recent accolades among many that the project has received since its debut in 2019. Previously, 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 as well as 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 of 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.
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!
Student Spotlight: Reid Carrescia '12 (Film + Video)
Watch a clip from student work "Harvest," a story about the end of the world.
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
Sample Courses in the Film Major
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 Sundance fellowships. You’ll use the same high-tech equipment the pros use, including Black Magic cameras, a variety of digital editing systems in our state-of-the-art digital imaging and editing labs, and a purpose built, acoustically isolated film-shooting studio. In addition to creating your own films, you’ll do an internship, maybe on a film or TV show being shot in Philly – like “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Creed” – or in New York, Los Angeles, or abroad. A class assignment might take on a city-wide film competition and the UArts entries will sweep the awards, as they did with a contest sponsored by the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Or you might find yourself collaborating via the Internet with film students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, in Glasgow. You’ll have study abroad options in England, Australia, Ireland, Finland, South Korea, Scotland, New Zealand, and Italy. And in addition to exploring Philadelphia’s vibrant film and art scene, you’re only two hours from New York’s galleries and museums showcasing contemporary film and video.
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
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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