FAQs

Programs

What programs does York offer in Cinema & Media Arts?
How do these programs differ?
What courses would I take?
What degree would I obtain and how long to obtain it?
If I’m a Cinema and Media Studies (BA) Major, can I take the production courses?
If I’m a Screenwriting (BFA) Major, can I take the production courses?
If I’m a Production (BFA) or Cinema and Media Studies (BA) Major, can I take the screenwriting courses?
Do all production students get to make films and videos?
How many productions are made in a given year?
Is it possible to see the productions made by students?
What media do production students work in?
What kinds of equipment are available?
How large are the classes?
Who pays for the cost of student films?
Who owns the films made by students?
How is York different from other film schools?


What programs does York offer in Film?

The Department of Cinema & Media Arts, which is part of the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, offers three distinct undergraduate courses of study: Production, Cinema and Media Studies and Screenwriting.


How do these programs differ?

The BA in Cinema and Media Studies is a liberal arts program that combines a variety of disciplines in the humanities (film theory, history, and criticism, communications, cultural studies, sociology, art history, philosophy and more) to give students a wide range of academic experiences and training. It looks at the past and present of film and media and considers how films, television, and other audio-visual media, both old and new, attain the status of art and popular culture.

The BFA in Production offers a course of study whose emphasis is on the actual practice of making film and digital video works. Students in the production program gain a broad range of experience in both the technical and creative processes involved in writing, directing, producing, shooting, editing, and sound designing film and video projects.

The BFA in Screenwriting (the only one in Canada) focuses intensively on the creative and technical aspects of the screenwriting craft, and also incorporates some work in production. Screenwriting students have the opportunity of seeing their work produced by production students, and may also take advantage of the offerings of York’s renowned Creative Writing program. The small size of the screenwriting program (5 faculty, and only 10 students admitted per year) allows the creation of a community of writers and ongoing mentoring.

Although these are separate programs of study, they combine to offer our students a uniquely balanced approach to the discipline. Production and screenwriting students also take some courses in cinema and media studies, and cinema and media studies students take at least one course in each of production and screenwriting.


What courses would I take?

The Department’s extensive course offerings include both required foundation courses and a large number of elective courses to choose from at the upper level.

In the BFA Production program, the first two years include 12 credits in film production, 9 credits in screenwriting and 12 credits in film studies. In third and fourth year, the students choose from over 100 credits of offerings in production and screenwriting courses. These include project workshops, which provide creative mentoring in the making of narrative, documentary and experimental film and video projects, and specialty courses which provide advanced instruction in the various craft specializations of filmmaking: cinematography, editing, sound, directing, producing, screenwriting. Production students may also choose to take advanced cinema and media studies courses. Through their choice of courses, students at the upper level may specialize in one particular area or diversify, as they wish.

In the BFA Screenwriting program, the first two years include basic courses in production and screenwriting, and survey courses in cinema and media studies. In third and fourth year, screenwriting students take up to 36 (but at least 18) credits in screenwriting, including up to 12 credits in feature film screenwriting, 9 credits in writing for television, and courses in story editing, transmedia storytelling, scene writing, and the history of screenwriting. Screenwriting students may also choose to take some advanced cinema and media studies courses.

In the BA/cinema and media studies program, the first two years focus on survey courses, which introduce students to a broad knowledge of film history and theory. The upper level courses specialize in a range of topics. Students can take courses in such areas as American film, gender and sexuality studies, national cinemas (including Chinese, African, European, etc), digital film and new media, television studies, Canadian and Quebecois cinema, film history, experimental and alternative cinemas, documentary, contemporary theory and more.

Of course, whichever program you are in, you will also take courses outside of the Cinema and Media Arts Department, drawn from the rich offerings of the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (visual arts, theatre, music, design, digital media, dance) and the University at large.


What degree would I obtain and how long to obtain it?

The Department of Cinema & Media Arts offers the following degrees:

  • Production students obtain a BFA Honours Degree (120 credits, of which at least 60 credits are in Film).
  • Screenwriting students obtain a BFA Honours Degree (120 credits, of which at least 48 credits are in Film).
  • Cinema and Media Studies students obtain a BA Honours Degree (120 credits, of which at least 48 credits are in Film).
  • In third year, BA students may elect to switch to a Regular BA Degree (90 credits, of which at least 42 credits are in Film).
  • Cinema and Media Studies majors may choose to pursue a Double Major with Communications.

If I’m a Cinema and Media Studies (BA) Major, can I take production courses?

The department offers one production course specifically for Cinema and Media Studies (BA) majors. The other production courses are available only to BFA majors.


If I’m a Screenwriting (BFA) Major, can I take production courses?

Screenwriting students take the first year production course. They are then encouraged to work on the shoots of upper level production students to become more familiar with the production process.


If I’m a Production (BFA) or Cinema and Media Studies (BA) Major, can I take screenwriting courses?

All film students are eligible to take screenwriting courses, and all production students are required to take screenwriting courses in first and second year. Admission to upper level screenwriting courses is extremely competitive and is based on submission of a writing portfolio.


Do all production students get to make films?

Yes, they are required to. Screenwriting students will also make films in first year.


How many productions are made in the program in a given year?

Every year approximately 175 undergraduate student works are produced in our department.


Is it possible to see the productions made by students?

All student films are screened on campus during a two-week period in April at an event called The Finish Line. The screenings are free and open to the public.

From these screenings, CMA faculty members select the strongest work produced in the department that year. A external jury of prominent figures in the film and television industries looks at the work, selects the best productions for a showcase screening, and designates awards. This special screening, titled CineSiege, takes place each year in October at the Hot Docs Bloor Cinema in downtown Toronto.


What media do production students work in?

Students start off in first year working with 16mm film cameras as well as digital cinema cameras. Because many of our incoming students have no previous experience in film production, this allows them to encounter the particular challenges of the both film and digital media. For the next three years students follow digital workflows from camera to the screen – moving from Black Magic Pocket Cinema Cameras to Canon C300 MkII.


What kind of equipment is available?

The Department’s complement of film and digital production and post-production technology is among the most extensive of any educational institution in Canada. The department is housed in a recently constructed, dedicated building, which includes professional soundstage facilities. In the senior years students can apply for production grants from our industry partners – Sim Digital, PS Production Services and William F. Whites, through which they can augment their equipment needs.


How large are the classes?

Most of the classes offered in the Department of Cinema & Media Arts are small. Studio (production) courses range between about 15 to 22 students. Studies courses vary from very large courses with tutorials to small, intensely focused seminars in the upper years.


Who pays for the cost of student films?

The department provides equipment, facilities and support. Students crew on one another’s projects. In general, hard costs are borne by the students. Students who enroll in the BFA program can expect to spend $500 in their first year and $1000 in second year. In third and fourth year, costs depend entirely on what projects students choose to undertake. Costs are generally shared between key crew members who are gaining academic credit for a production; the director has primary overall responsibility.


Who owns the films made by students?

Students own their own film works. They are required only to acknowledge the department’s participation in an on-screen credit.


How is York different from other film schools?

Our program is distinctive due to

  • the extent and variety of our curricular offerings
  • the combination of writing, theory and practice refined over the 46 years of our existence
  • a tightly knit community based on experiential group learning and mentorship which is made of the extraordinary talent, inventiveness and commitment of our students
  • the rich knowledge base of our faculty, who are practicing filmmakers and prominent film scholars
  • cross-listed courses with other areas such as Production Design, as well as Production Planning, that are offered in conjunction with the Department of Theatre.
  • Field placements for both BFA & BA students in their senior years

Faculty

Who teaches the courses in the Department of Cinema & Media Arts at York?


Who teaches in the Department of Cinema & Media Arts at York?

Our faculty are well established in their fields of filmmaking and film study, and many combine both disciplines in their work. We are not teachers who made a film or two in a long-forgotten past and then gave it up for a teaching job, but active and productive filmmakers and film scholars who cherish the opportunity to enhance our filmmaking and film study practice through our teaching, and to enhance our teaching through our practice.

The department draws its strength from 21 full-time faculty members and a similar number of contract faculty. The full-time faculty include internationally recognized documentary, dramatic and experimental filmmakers, professionally produced screenwriters, and leading figures in the field of film studies with a broad range of publications and research specialties. The part-time faculty rotates to allow us to bring in industry professionals whose extensive commitments do not allow them to take on a full-time teaching position.

All of the department’s full-time faculty also teach in our internationally recognized graduate programs. Upper level undergraduate students benefit from our graduate programs through courses that integrate them with graduate students. We are the only film department in Canada offering Masters degrees in production, screenwriting and film studies.

The Real World

How will studying Cinema & Media Arts at York prepare me for a job?


How will studying film at York prepare me for a job?

Our BFA graduates are known and respected throughout the Canadian industry for their technical and creative proficiency. As active professional filmmakers, the faculty are involved in the industry, allowing us to bring that experience and understanding into the classroom. The size of the department, its extensive facilities, its broad curriculum, the scale of student productions and perhaps most of all the extraordinary talent and dedication of our student body, all combine to create an accelerated learning experience like no other.

York is located in the heart of the GTA, one of Canada’s primary film centres, and our Department is actively involved in the Canadian film, television and media industries. Professionals from all sectors of the industry regularly make their way up to visit our students.

Upper level students may participate in a summer internship program that gives them on-the-job experience. For a significant number of students, their internship has led directly to employment with prominent companies in the film and television industry.

Every year the Toronto International Film Festival includes York talent, with features and short films produced by alumni, faculty and often also current students.

A university is very different from a training program which focuses solely on technical instruction. York faculty are not only active in the industry but have chosen to work within the university setting because we like to think about what we do. The university experience is about much more than finding a job. At the same time, we believe the all-around experience York offers makes our graduates employable in a wider range of positions. This is demonstrated by the successes of our alumni, who include not only prominent directors, cinematographers, producers and editors, but also industry executives, casting directors, special effects designers etc.

Our BA/Cinema and Media Studies graduates have gone on to positions as film critics, publicists, curators, educators, film festival organizers, book and magazine editors, teachers and professors. They have found a variety of jobs in the cultural industries working for film production houses, museums and galleries, in the broadcasting sector (TVO, History Channel, VisionTV, CBC etc) and (in two recent cases) setting up their own publishing company devoted to independent cinema. Some of our students have received prestigious scholarships to go on to graduate school to train as cutting-edge media researchers and film scholars.

Admission Information

How do I apply?
What happens after I apply?
Do I need to submit a portfolio?
Is an interview part of the admission process?
What’s the rationale for your process?
What are my chances?
What exactly are you looking for in prospective students?
What can I do to improve my chances?
When is the deadline and how soon will I hear the results?
Where do incoming students come from?
Can I apply to more than one of the programs?
Are there specific requirements for continuing in the production program?

 


How do I apply?

You will apply through your guidance office if you are a current Ontario high school student or through the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre.

BFA applicants in Production and Screenwriting then complete a Supplementary Evaluation to be assessed by the Department of Cinema & Media Arts. The Supplementary Evaluation comprises a questionnaire and portfolio submission.

Cinema and Media Studies applicants apply to our BA program through the normal University application procedure and are accepted based on their academic transcripts.


What happens after I apply?

BA applicants are admitted based on their GPA.

Once BFA applications have been reviewed and assessed, we invite a portion of the applicants to the campus for an in-person interview. The interview day also includes a tour of our facilities, and screenings of students’ films. If you are invited for an interview but live more than 300 km away and are unable to come, we will arrange a phone or Skype interview.


Do I need to submit a portfolio? 

Screenwriting applicants are required to submit a writing portfolio with their supplementary evaluation.

Production applicants are required to upload their production portfolio to Vimeo or YouTube if the work includes video, or through our online system if submitting examples of other art works, as outlined in the supplementary evaluation process.


Is an interview part of the admission process?

Each supplementary evaluation is reviewed and rated by members of the Department’s full-time faculty. Applicants are invited for interviews based on a weighted combination of their most recent available GPA and the faculty’s evaluation of their supplementary evaluation.


What’s the rationale for your process?

We are not just a film school — we are part of a university. We have found that past academic success is a good indicator that students will take the overall academic responsibilities that come with a University education seriously. At the same time, we recognize that some very bright and talented students do not thrive in high school. That is why we have introduced other elements into our evaluation process.  York is a very large university, and we are a relatively small department with a strong sense of community. We want to accept students in the same way we hope to teach them: as distinct individuals, not just numbers in the system. Filmmaking is a collaborative process, teamwork and mentorship is essential not only to our curriculum but also to allow students to build their own network. Our complex admissions process has evolved to meet this goal.


What are my chances?

The Film Department receives approximately 900 applications to the BFA programs each year. For the coming year, we will conduct approximately 200 interviews. Approximately, 60 students from those interviews will form our incoming BFA class (50 production and 10 screenwriting students).


What exactly are you looking for in prospective students?

BFA: We are looking for students who are passionately creative, have inquiring minds and think critically, have already given serious thought to their impulse to study film, and who are self-motivated and good collaborators. In short, we are looking for students who are a good fit and likely to thrive in our extraordinarily demanding program. For students applying to the Screenwriting program, we also look for demonstrated writing talent.

BA: We are looking for students who are creative and inquisitive, love cinema and media, and who have superior analytical abilities and excellent writing and research skills. We want students who are eager to join a community of scholars seeking to understand the art and culture of cinema, and who can meet the rigorous challenges of our program.


What can I do to improve my chances?

Immerse yourself as much as you can in thought and activity related to film and media! Watch films outside the mainstream. Learn about the Canadian film industry and film communities. The students who do best in our admissions process tend to be those who have tested their own interest and discovered that it is a passion.


When is the deadline and how soon will I hear the results?

After you apply to York University you will receive an email letting you know whether or not the program you applied for requires you to complete a Supplementary Evaluation. The Supplementary Evaluation deadline is February 3, 2016 for guaranteed consideration. In February and early March we will notify students of the results of the initial evaluation. Interviews will take place on Saturday, February 13 and Saturday, March 5. The Department of Cinema & Media Arts informs York’s Admissions Office of its decisions, and the Admissions Office makes offers. Initial offers go out early to mid April, but offers continue to be sent out through May or even later.

Students who are not invited for an interview, or who are interviewed but not offered admission to the BFA program, may still receive an offer of admission to another program at York University.

Please note that York’s Office of Admissions does not contact students to inform them of missing elements in their files. It is the responsibility of applicants (particularly those not applying through OUAC) to ensure that their files are complete. Occasionally there are students who the Department of Cinema and Media Arts would like to grant acceptance to, but York University cannot grant them admission because of problems with their files (e.g. missing transcripts).


Where do incoming students come from?

Half of our students come from somewhere in Ontario. The remainder come from across Canada and around the world.


Can I apply to more than one of the programs in Cinema & Media Arts?

Yes. If you apply to both Screenwriting and Production you must fill out separate Supplementary Evaluations for each. Please be sure you are aware of the differences between the BFA and BA programs. The BA program is not a “back door” to the BFA program; transferring between programs is no easier, statistically, than applying from the outside. It is important that if you apply to the BA program it is because this is a course of study you genuinely wish to pursue.


Are there specific requirements for continuing in the production program?

Yes. To remain in the Production, BFA (Honours) area students are expected to maintain a B+ in each production course.