Filmmakers Collective




Due to the pandemic, no residential programming will be offered in the summer of 2021 and plans for remote offerings are still being considered by the College. For details about this program for summer 2021, please fill out our inquiry form or check back here in January 2021.

International Film Institute of New York (IFI) logo

Summer 2021

As part of a long-running partnership, Sarah Lawrence College and the International Film Institute of New York (IFI) offer a unique opportunity to learn the art of filmmaking in an in-depth, supportive, and intimate program.

The focus of this five-week Intensive is on storytelling and developing the skill sets necessary to translate the written page onto the screen. This is the backbone of the program, in which every student produces and directs their own four- to six-minute finished project. Along the way, technical aspects necessary to produce a final film—everything from operating cameras, to setting up lights, to capturing sound will be covered. Enjoy small sized classrooms with instructors that will give you the attention needed to excel.

This program is open to adults and high school students. There are two concurrent sections, divided based on student age and program enrollment. Minors and those over 18 are housed separately.

The Curriculum

Students will participate in the following classes. Each class will have a different instructor.

  • Screenwriting Class
  • Directing Class
  • Working with Actors
  • Camera Tech Class
  • Lighting Workshop
  • Editing Class
  • Producing Workshop

Each session is designed to build on the information students have gained from previous sessions to get them to the next level. For instance, screenplays developed in the Screenwriting session will be analyzed in the Directing session. Once students have an understanding of how to break down scenes on the written page and compose them into shots, they will go into the Camera and Lighting sessions to learn how to use the tools that will bring their projects to life. This will be followed by a Working With Actors session, Producing session, and, finally, a full Casting session in New York City where they will have the opportunity to cast professional actors in their films. Because of the way the curriculum is structured, attendance and participation are essential to the success of student projects.

Weeks One & Two

Screenwriting, Directing & Technical Skills

Beginning with screenwriting, students will first brainstorm ideas and then select one to be developed and produced during the production week. By the end of the first week, every student will have a first draft of a script.

This portion of the program is also filled with hard- and soft-skills classes designed to prepare students for making their final film—including the technical aspects of operating camera, light, and sound equipment, as well as directing and the fine art of working with actors. Once this intensive “cramming” session is accomplished, the pre-production phase begins.

Week Three

Pre-Production & Continued Skills Classes

During pre-production, students will organize the elements that will make their final film. This includes casting, finding locations, gathering props, wardrobe, scheduling, and reserving production equipment. Staff will be available throughout the pre-production process, which also includes continued screenwriting, directing, and lighting classes. The one-on-one support provided to each student during this phase is integral to the success of our program and the success of each and every film produced.


The Casting session kicks off the pre-production process. As a group, students will attend an all day open-call casting session in New York City. Actors will audition for every project scheduled to be produced. This is a perfect opportunity for students to find the talent that will bring their project to life, with typically 75-100 actors looking to work on student productions (for experience and reel clips, not compensation). Afterwards, students will follow up with individual actors to book them for roles.


During the scheduling portion of pre-production, students will create talent, crew, and location schedules to make sure everyone has enough time to produce their final projects. Every production shoot will be scheduled into a week-long production period. In addition, each student will meet with their production staff member, who will be on set throughout the shoot to supervise and support the film team. The production staff will be on hand to smooth-out technical and crew complications, as well as to provide guidance on proper set etiquette—they are not there to make the film for the student. Students take full responsibility for their project and must do their best to make it come together.

Production Budget & Expenses

Each student will be provided with available resources to limit the expenses associated with each project, including equipment and support finding on-campus shooting locations. Not included in the program tuition are a few expenses necessary to successfully complete a film, including:

Transportation: If students are working with talent from outside of the Sarah Lawrence community, they will need to provide transportation to and from campus or any location where the shooting will be taking place (train tickets or taxi fare, for example). On average, this cost ranges between $12-$40 depending on the number of shoot days. This will be discussed during the pre-production period.

Meals On-Set: Each student will be responsible for providing meals for their cast and crew throughout production. This is not as complicated as it sounds: bagels and coffee for breakfast, pizza for lunch and, if a long day, Chinese food for dinner, for example. Though a seemingly minor detail, craft services is a very big part of making movies and it is important to learn about every step of the process—including feeding the folks helping to make your vision come to life. After all, a happy film crew is a very productive film crew.

Props & Wardrobe: If there are special props or wardrobe considerations, they need to be purchased before the day of the production. For example, if a white shirt is needed for a scene where the actor will spill coffee on himself, then several white shirts will be necessary for the shoot.

Dry Cleaning: For the most part, actors will be able to bring in wardrobe. If any article of clothing is soiled beyond what might be considered normal, it should be properly cleaned (at your expense).

These are just a few examples of expenses that might arise as each film project comes together. In general, we ask that students spend no more than $250 on their final projects—most of which should go towards transportation and meals. Keep in mind that talent will be working with no financial compensation. Do what you can to show your appreciation!

Week Four


Once all of the elements are in place, the week of production will begin. Students should be aware that, in addition to their own film, they must collaborate and participate in the production of other projects. Each student will be working on at least three other films in addition to their own project. Filmmaking is a collaborative effort—a film cannot be made alone. If you support others, they will support you. The more organized the production, the better overall result.

Understanding what you will need and working with your team to get it is crucial to a successful end product. Keep in mind that throughout this process, a production staff member will be alongside to make sure everything goes as planned. However, there is always the possibility of something not going as planned. Actors can get sick, locations become unavailable, equipment malfunctions, etc. Thinking on your feet and coming up with back-up plans is part of the process. It is extremely important to always keep your cool and know that you are here to learn how to make a movie. Failure and complications are part of the learning process—make mistakes, get corrected, adjust, and all will be great. Before you know it, the shooting period will be over and you will be sitting in the editing room reviewing the footage from that incredibly crazy week of production.

Week Five

Editing & Premiere Night

During the editing process, you will put together the film you shot just days before. You will review the footage, check for missing elements, and formally begin the editing process. As you piece scenes together, you will determine if there are elements missing that are integral to the story. If this happens, and time is still available, you will schedule a “pick-up” day to shoot the missing elements.

In the editing room, there will be an editing monitor available to help you. You will add music, sound effects, special effects, and titles to complete your film. Once completed, you will your film export to DVD.

The Takeaway

At the end of this program, not only will students have a completed film under their belt, but also a solid foundation in filmmaking, along with the addition of valuable technical skills to their resume, while forging close bonds with classmates and instructors and gaining hands-on insight into whether a career in the film industry is a path they want to pursue. We can’t wait for you to join us on this immersive, intensive, incredible journey of a lifetime!

Program Costs

Registration fee $50
Deposit $250
Remaining tuition $4,240

$2,992 (non-A/C)

$3,128 (A/C)

Meal Plan

$1,743 (full includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner)

$631 (lunch only)

Limited financial assistance is available for this program. Please apply by April 1 to be considered. Should Sarah Lawrence be unable to provide the necessary amount possible for you to attend, a full refund of your registration fee and deposit will be provided.

There is a limited number of air-conditioned rooms available on campus. Please register and deposit early to secure an air-conditioned room should you plan to reside on campus.