Filmmakers Collective: June 27 - July 29, 2022




International Film Institute of New York (IFI) logo

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 program will focus on storytelling and developing the skill sets necessary to translate the written page onto the screen. This is the backbone of our program, in which every student produces and directs their own 4-6 minute finished project by the end of the course. Along the way, we will cover the technical aspects necessary to produce a final film - everything from operating cameras, to setting up lights and capturing sound.

This program is designed to immerse the student from screenplay through post-production in an intensive course of study. Prepare to work evenings and weekends as necessary. This program is open to adults and high school students.

The Curriculum

Students will participate in the following classes. Each class will have a different instructor. The following is a breakdown of the courses and how we plan on conducting each session.

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

Every class is designed to build on the information from a previous session. That is to say, each day and session is designed to build on the information you’ve already gained and get you to the next level. For instance, screenplays developed in the Screenwriting session are analyzed in the Directing Sessions. Once students have an understanding on how to break down scenes on the written page and compose it into shots, they will then go into Camera and Lighting to learn how to use the tools that will bring their projects to life. This will then be followed by a Working With Actors session, and a Producing overview seminar. Because of the way the curriculum is structured, attendance and participation are essential to the success of your project.

Weeks One & Two

Screenwriting, Directing & Technical Skills

The course begins 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 that are designed to prepare the student for making the final film. That includes 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

Follow up review on camera operation, sound, and editing.  In addition students will finalize their production needs, review their available equipment to be used for production, and discuss any pending concerns. Work will continue in Screenwriting and Directing.

Pre-Production and Continued Skills Classes

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


The Casting discussion kicks off the pre-production process.  This is a perfect opportunity to find the talent that will bring your project to life.


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 weeklong production period. In addition, each student will meet with a Production Staff Member to discuss specifics related to the project. The Production Staff will be available to smooth out technical and crew complications as well as provide guidance on proper set etiquette. Students take on full responsibility for their individual project and must do their best to make it come together.

Production Budget And Expenses

Transportation – If students are working with talent consider providing transportation to and from any location where the shooting will be taking place. (Train tickets or Uber costs, 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 should consider 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, will keep tummies full and things running smoothly. Though a seemingly minor detail, craft services is a very big part of making movies and it’s important to learn about every step of the process. This includes feeding the folks helping to make your vision come to life. After all, a happy film crew is a very productive film crew.

Props And 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.

These are just a few examples of expenses that might arise as each film project comes together. We ask that students not spend more than $250 on their final projects, most of which should go toward transportation and meals. Just keep in mind that talent will be coming in to work with no compensation. Do what you can to show your appreciation!

Week Four


Part of treating your crew with respect and appreciation is running an orderly, disciplined set while maintaining an unflappable attitude if and when things go off-plan. Understanding what you will need and working with your friends and family to get it is crucial to a successful end-product and as a rule, the more organized the production the better the overall result. Of course, the best-laid plans can always go awry. An actor can get sick, a location can become unavailable, weather can intercede, a camera can malfunction, etc. This is not the end of the world. We take a deep breath and push on through. 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 at The IFI to learn how to make a movie. Failure and complications are just part of the learning process. Make mistakes, get corrected, adjust, and all will be fine. Before you know it, the shooting period will be over, and you will be editing reviewing the footage from that incredibly crazy and fun shoot.

Week Five

Editing & Premiere Night

During the editing period students will work on putting together the film from footage they shot just days before. Students will review footage, organize, and begin the editing process. As they piece together the scenes, students might find missing elements that are integral to the telling of the story. If this happens, they will schedule a “Pick-up” day to shoot the missing elements if possible.

The Intensive will culminate in premiere night. This is your chance to kick, back, relax and show off all your hard work.

The Takeaway

At the end of program, not only will you have a film, screenplay, or Pitch session but you will have built a solid foundation in filmmaking and added some valuable technical skills to your resume, while forging bonds with your classmates and instructors and gaining insight into whether a career in the film industry is the path for you. We can’t wait for you to join us on this immersive, intensive, incredible journey of a lifetime!

Program Costs

Tuition: $3,950