Application Requirements

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An individual, expressive use of the film medium is emphasized in the Film program. Each year, 28 students learn all aspects of creative film production, from experimental to pre-cinema history. They view over fifty exemplary films, and attend lectures and presentations by visiting artists working in the field. The program is very learning-intensive, and ideal for self-starters who want to challenge both themselves and the boundaries of filmmaking while developing their own critical thinking and artistic visions. The program is structured to resemble a collegiate BFA course that students typically experience at elite university and art school film programs.

Monday through Thursday, students move between classes in Narrative Filmmaking, Documentary Filmmaking, and Cinema Theory. On Fridays and Saturdays, students have production classses, learning various aspects of filmmaking from post-production sound design to art direction. There are also regularly scheduled evening screenings, including a Thursday night, outdoor, Works-in-Progress showcase, where students can screen for the CSSSA community the films that they created in class.

Students currently enrolled in grades 8 through 12 are eligible to apply. (CSSSA is open to students entering grades 9, 10, 11 or 12 next fall 2024. CSSSA is also open to students who are graduating from high school in the spring of 2024. You can still do the program the summer after graduation.)

Narrative Filmmaking

This class is an introduction to the principals of narrative filmmaking. Here the students make short fiction films. Drawing from their own personal experiences, these films will mold the students into auteurs. We will go into detail on how camera placements, movement, color, performance, etc. all effect the narrative experience. Each student will make two short fiction films during the course.

Documentary Filmmaking

In this class we will investigate a range of creative approaches to non-fiction filmmaking, considering how different personal, political, and regional concerns are expressed through cinema. We will discuss how cinematography, sound, interviewing and editing techniques can shape our perception of what is true, while students test their ideas through the production of individual documentary projects.

Experimental Filmmaking

Dive into the beautiful world of Experimental cinema. In this course we will de-rail into the underground, avant-garde and surrealist filmmaking only few know and love. Steering away from mainstream commercial media, be ready to pour out your emotions using different techniques to convey your own unique voice on screen. This cleansing will release you and send you off to the world as an artist.

Cinema Theory

Students are exposed to a range of important films from many different movements and genres ranging from the Hollywood musical to Neo-Realism to LGBTI Cinema. This class is focused on discussing the past, present and future of filmmaking and how it can give voice to the voiceless.

Field Trips

The program also includes field trips that in the past have included tours of Paramount Pictures Studios, visits to prop houses and live film shoots, and public screenings of student works at art houses in the Los Angeles area.

Program Instructors

Pietro Pinto

Pietro Pinto, MFA, is an award-winning Italian filmmaker. His thesis film, "Adam" debuted at the Venice Festival, competing in Venice Critics Week, and his short film "The Golden Gate" earned Best Narrative and Best in Show at the CSU Media Arts Festival. Pinto teaches film directing SFFS and UCLA, and is the founder of an original masterclass series in partnership with CalArts, USC, Berlinale, and Locarno Film Festival featuring top industry professionals.