Still from Katarina Poljak's 2019 Senior Film

Film Design (BFA)

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Film Design at University of the Arts in Philadelphia allows you to learn the creative and artistic areas of design involved in filmmaking.

You can become a production designer; an art director; or a designer of costumes, sets, lighting or sound. You’ll get a foundation in costumes, sets, lighting, sound and technical production, and then pick one or two chosen areas to concentrate on. Before you graduate, you’ll execute design work for a film project.

Header image still from Katarina Poljak's 2019 Senior Film.

Curriculum

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: 

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.

Film Design
Allows you to concentrate on the creative and artistic areas of production design involved in filmmaking.

About the Film Design Curriculum

Sample Courses in the Film Design Major

Film spotlight

The Film Design BFA program is an exploration of the creative and artistic areas of production design involved in filmmaking. The program is intended to develop film artists such as Production Designers, Art Directors, and designers of Costumes, Sets, Lighting, and Sound.

The program introduces students to each of these artistic focus areas in film – costumes, sets, lighting, sound, and technical production. After this foundation in film production design, the program builds student experience and skills in one or two chosen areas through a series of practicum courses – mentored guidance for a set of realized film projects. The program is capped with a thesis project in the final year that involves realized production design work on a film project and thorough documentation and formal presentation of the artistic process and methods involved.

Graduates of the Film Design program will:

  • Understand the duties and functions of the various artists and technicians working in the film industry in production design roles (production designers, art directors, designers, film production staff members, etc.), and be able to perform professionally in one or more of these roles.
  • Know and understand the history and development of film design and production and be able to identify, discuss, and apply the relevant styles, methods, and genres to new film projects.
  • Be able to identify screenplay requirements and opportunities and to make creative, artistic, and strong production design choices to enhance work on a film project.
  • Be proficient in finding, presenting, and applying visual and factual research in order to inform, describe, and develop creative ideas.
  • Synthesize techniques and knowledge from multiple areas of production design to enhance a project (combining film design methods with those used in theater, for example).
  • Be able to present, discuss, and negotiate between production design proposals to arrive at a collaborative and integrated project proposal, and to carry out the resulting project as effective members of the creative team.

Credit RequirementsL 120
Film Design BFA
Major requirements: 62.5 credits Discipline history: 9 credits Critical Studies: 33 credits
Free electives: 15.5 credits

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First Year

Fall Semester (15 Credits Credits)

The Art of Cinema 3 Image/Time 3 Intro to Film Design & Production 3 Writing I Placement 3 Free elective (your choice) 3 Spring Semester: 14 Credits Video Production 3 Theater Design & Technology course* 2 Set Design 3 Design Analysis in Screenwriting 3 Writing II Placement 3

Second Year

Fall Semester: 16 Credits Production Design 3 The Art of Editing 3 Scenery & Prop Technology 1 Lighting Design 3 History of Narrative Cinema I 3 Thinking Through Science 3 Spring Semester: 16 Credits Cinematography 3 Sound Design 3 Film Forum: Selected Topics 3 Theater Design & Technology course* 2 Course in your area of focus** 1 Costume Technology 1 History of Narrative Cinema II 3

Third Year

Fall Semester: 15 Credits Credits Junior Production Workshop 3 Theater Design & Technology course* 2 Course in your area of focus** 1 Technical Direction 3 Critical Studies (your choice) 3 Critical Studies (your choice) 3 Spring Semester: 14 Credits Theater Design & Technology course* 2 Course in your area of focus** 1 Critical Studies (your choice) 3 Critical Studies (your choice) 3 Critical Studies (your choice) 3 Free elective (your choice) 2

Fourth Year

Fall Semester: 15 Credits Senior Thesis I 3 Internship 1.5 History of Costume & Decor 3 Critical Studies (your choice) 3 Free elective (your choice) 3 Free elective (your choice) 1.5 Spring Semester: 15 Credits Senior Thesis II 3 Critical Studies (your choice) 3 Critical Studies (your choice) 3 Free elective (your choice) 3 Free elective (your choice) 3

Explore the Full Film Design Curriculum

Feature Faculty

Wendy Weinberg
Wendy Weinberg

Oscar-nominated filmmaker, Program Co-Director
Nick Embree faculty theater design and technology
Nick Embree

Barrymore Award nominee, Program Co-Director

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.

Learn More

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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