School of Film/Video Announcement about the 2020 Fall Semester

July 7, 2020

Dear Film/Video students, 

We hope you’re well and finding some time for rest and restoration this summer.

The past year has brought some of the most striking, difficult events in recent memory, here at CalArts and across the world. From the pandemic to the racial justice uprisings to the impending presidential election, we’ve seen turmoil, rage, and uncertainty, as well as remarkable solidarity and compassion.

Even as everything feels different, Film/Video faculty and staff look forward to working with you this fall. The programs have responded both to current events and pandemic conditions, developing a rich curriculum that places an emphasis on student project work while prioritizing safety and well-being during COVID-19.

We’ve begun to make changes in Film/Video facilities and procedures so students can safely access technology and equipment necessary to their filmmaking. There will also be added emphasis on community through virtual events, visiting artists, the new REDCAT season and other programming. Students who are able to come to campus will have access to equipment and facilities but must follow new safety measures. Students who cannot come to campus will be able to enroll in a fully remote curriculum, maintain mentor relationships and join many virtual events.

Below you’ll find more information about Film/Video’s changes, including specific updates from each FV program. In the coming days, the programs will each hold Q&A Zoom sessions for students. Times and links for these are listed with the program information.

This is a beginning. We recognize that CalArts will feel different to all of us this year, and that these changes bring both challenges and possibilities. There’s still a lot of work to do before the fall semester begins and we’ll continue to update the FV community as plans develop over the summer.

All our best,
Abigail Severance, Interim Dean
Nathan Crow, Director of Technology
School of Film/Video


The Institute has adopted three modes of instruction to address the need for safety and distance. Students will have many choices among these.

Remote: 100% online, in both asynchronous and synchronous models.
Hybrid: A combination of remote and in-person, either with independent student work and/or small-group sessions.
Fully On Campus: Small, socially distanced groups, specifically for hands-on work and/or original format screenings.

Alongside our core curriculum, new courses address justice and community, isolation and identity, history and technology. Additionally, the Post Graduate Teaching Fellowship (PGTF) program continues this year, with three recent alumni teaching new courses.

Cherlyn Liu, Asian Film, Music and Art: Philosophy and Practice Adam Wand, The Failed Image Ray Chang, States and Transitions of a Circle (or How to Manipulate a Circle)


Student access to Film/Video facilities and equipment is a high priority. To work safely this year, we’re changing many of our typical practices. Everyone will be required to maintain strict social distance throughout the campus, with mask-wearing and regular cleaning protocols.

The campus will be accessible, but there will be no drop-in access to Film/Video facilities this year. All access will require advance reservations, including labs, edit suites, production and installation studios, the cage, and the sound department. Animation cubicles and shared student studios are being reconfigured into individual and distanced work spaces that will need to be reserved for use. We’ll have stringent production protocols for both on and off campus projects to minimize contact and ensure safety. There will be more planning and preparation than usual, both for in-class and independent work, including specific guidelines for various production modes (solo, doc, crews, stop-motion, etc.) Orientation on these new practices will be required for all students at the beginning of the school year.

Please note that if required by local and state officials, campus may be restricted or closed due to COVID-19 conditions. CalArts and the School of Film/Video will comply with all such directives.


To aid students with safe filmmaking practices and remote education, Fim/Video is developing a new technology access program. During the 2020-21 academic year, this program will offer tech access and support, in addition to our usual campus facilities and equipment, at no additional cost to students. Refundable deposits will be necessary when borrowing equipment. Further details will be available soon. The tech access program is not available to students enrolled part-time.


For students unable to come to campus, there may be some temporary academic accommodations or exceptions available to support their remote enrollment. Students facing international travel obstacles and/or with health conditions that prevent in person attendance may be eligible for these. Please consult with your mentor or program director for specific criteria for these accommodations, as they differ in each program and will not be available to all students.


On July 6, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced modified temporary exemptions for international students for the Fall semester. CalArts will hold Q&A sessions for international students (see dates & times below) and will continue updating the community on compliance with visa regulations. International students will need to discuss their individual enrollment strategies with the International Office, mentors and program directors. For more information, please contact Fumiyo Araki, Director of the Office of International Students and Programs at

International Office Zoom Room:

1. July 7, 9-10am (1/3 of newly admitted students and returning from LOA students)
2. July 7, 4-5pm (1/3 of newly admitted students and returning from LOA students)
3. July 8, 9-10am (continuing students)
4. July 8, 4-5pm (continuing students)
5. July 9, 9-10am (Transfer students who are in the U.S.)
6. July 9, 4-5pm (1/3 of newly admitted students and returning from LOA students)
7. July 10, 9-10am (continuing students)
8. July 10, 4-5pm (continuing students)


Christina Nguyen
Interim Operations Coordinator

Film/Video's information resource

Film/Video Faculty & Staff




Maija Burnett, Director

* subject to change based on developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic

The Character Animation Program’s course offerings will be delivered remotely this Fall 2020 semester, to safeguard the health of our community, as well as allow our students to join from anywhere in the world. We will endeavor to provide as much of the regular Character Animation experience as possible to every student, despite these modified circumstances.

Our remote course offerings will be mostly synchronous, recorded and documented for asynchronous use, with limited screen time to avoid Zoom fatigue. Courses are being adapted to best suit the online space, maximize learning, as well as offer opportunities for one-on-one feedback and/or small-group meetings. While all courses will be offered remotely so that students can enroll from any location in the world, they will also be available as “Hybrid 1” for students who are based locally (no face to face instruction, but students can opt to do course-related work on campus). We are planning to allow waivers to a limited number of métier required courses this academic year if students have already taken an equivalent course at a previous college (details and application process TBD).

In addition to the Film/VIdeo technology access program for students discussed above, our computer labs (A221N, A108, A109) and classroom spaces (A221O, A221G, Palace) are being modified for social distancing, and – this academic year – will each have computers, Cintiqs and other technology. Enrolled students who are based in the local area will have access to these spaces (reservation required). We are planning a number of opportunities for spending time together in person (for students who are based in the local area will have access to these spaces (reservation required).

We are planning a number of opportunities for spending time together in person (for students who are based locally), as well as online. In person events include outdoor drawing/sketching sessions on the CalArts campus, masks and social distancing required. Online opportunities include open Zoom sessions in which students can work on homework or films, chat, listen to music together, ask questions about computer programs and processes, and more. We will continue our speakers’ series online, and provide other forms of interaction and engagement with the animation industry.

Our program’s key annual events will, if needed, shift to the online space this year. For Portfolio Day, we will aim to collect and share your portfolios in one centralized online location for studio representatives to view. We will make robust use of Zoom to hold Portfolio Day call-backs, as well as offer opportunities for individual meetings on the day of the event for all interested students on a first-come, first-served basis. For the Producers’ Show, one idea we’re considering is to transform the event into a drive-in experience, complete with large outdoor screens and more. We would aim to livestream the event for anyone who can’t make it in person. We’re still conceptualizing how to translate the Open Show to the online space, and look forward to having discussions with you about how you would like the event to take place. Please be advised that all event plans are still TBD, and we welcome your thoughts, ideas and concerns as we work to maximize opportunities, and minimize safety risks.

As we get into the fall semester, we will pay careful attention to the situation with the pandemic to determine whether we remain with the same model for Spring 2021, or make adjustments. Either way, students can choose to be remote for the entire academic year, if that’s the preference.

Character Animation All-Student Zoom Meeting
Wednesday July 8 at 8:00AM (Pacific Daylight time )
Meeting ID: 984 3317 8427


Maureen Furniss & Alexander Stewart, Co-Directors

The Experimental Animation program has been working on plans for fall that emphasize community and access to equipment and workspaces, while maintaining physical distance needed for your safety. The faculty have been thinking carefully, on a class-by-class basis, about how and in what ways in-person instruction can be part of our courses. Many classes will allow you to access facilities on campus to make your work, and other classes will include some small in-person group meetings. For those of you for whom accessing campus is an option, we are working on converting A115 and Butler into workspaces with Cintiqs, down shooters, drawing tables, scanning stations, and fabrication tables that can be reserved individually. The downshooter spaces and the stop-motion stages will have dedicated cameras in them, and you will be able to reserve cameras, lights, and Dragonframe kits from the cage.

At the same time, we are working to make as much of the curriculum as possible accessible remotely, for students who are not able to travel to campus. Many courses are being set up so that they can be taken either fully remotely, or with some in-person components. Some of our more hands-on courses are being moved to Spring semester, when it’s more likely we will be able to work with more in-person access. In order to facilitate working remotely, Film/Video is setting up a technology access program in which students can borrow computer and software packages (details available soon) in addition to what’s available on campus and from the cage.

We are planning regular community meetings, screenings, and events for the fall, by Zoom and, where possible, in-person. We know that seeing, talking, and sharing with one another is one of the most valuable aspects of our program, and we’re doing what we can to support and facilitate that.

Experimental Animation Q&A Zoom sessions
Meeting ID: 998 9074 4839

Wednesday, July 8
All Pacific Daylight times:
11:00 AM, incoming BFA students
11:30 AM, continuing BFA students
1:00 PM, incoming MFA students
1:30 PM, continuing MFA students


Deborah LaVine , Director

The Film Directing Program remains focused on fostering each student’s individual voice in developing innovative approaches to narrative in cinema. Our students will continue to work closely with their mentors and FDP faculty during the coming school year as they create a body of work that best illustrates their artistic and social passions.

To do this, FDP is taking many steps to ensure the program’s goals including expanding the curriculum to include a wider focus on professional development, rigorous emphasis on thesis prep for MFA-2s through independent study, and long distance collaborations with international film schools.

All FDP Fall 2020 courses have been designed to provide maximum opportunity for artistic growth while forefronting the health and safety of our community. The Fall class schedule consists of some courses which are exclusively remote, plus some studios and workshops structured as a hybrid (in-person meetings accompanied by remote components). To ensure academic consistency, each course can adapt to health or safety regulations as needed. Film/Video’s facilities and equipment will be available by reservation to students who are able to enroll in person, and our new technology access program will help ensure students’ ability to work remotely as needed. More details on that program very soon.

Adjustments within existing courses will support the collaborative nature of narrative work while acknowledging the sense of isolation that has prevailed in recent months. In order to foster inter-connectivity and provide space to explore such issues, FDP will conduct a new weekly forum titled Symposium. This is designed to be a multi-purpose gathering for presentations of cross-cohort work by faculty, staff and students, plus practical talks that reflect community interests.

A new FDP Summer Artist Series will begin on Zoom in late July. Open to all FDP cohorts, including 2020 graduates, the series will feature the following artists.

Lee Anne Schmitt: Screening & Discussion - Purge This Land , 2017, 80 min.
Ki Jin Kim and Giulia Caruso: Discussion - creating an independent production company
Carmina Escobar: Workshop - Visualizing Sound, sound experiments on the moving image
Mavra Peponis: Presentation - dance and movement as a narrative cinematic form.

Details about the information above and answers to student questions will be addressed during the following Zoom meetings (please note July 8 is MFA 1s only, and July 10 is MFA 2s - 3s only).

FDP Q&A Zoom Sessions
Wednesday July 8 @ 5PM Pacific Daylight Time
Meeting ID: 916 1603 4379

MFA 2s & 3s
Friday July 10 @ 6PM Pacific Daylight Time
Meeting ID: 963 7312 3276


Rebecca Baron, Director

The Program in Film and Video will be offering most of its curriculum remotely, prioritizing access to equipment and facilities for student projects while maintaining a rich variety of courses. Face-to-face courses will focus on small hands-on production workshops (for example Film Production Workshop, Digital Cinematography Workshop, Advanced Creative Cinematography) and a few special screening and seminar classes. Some of our more intensive production courses have been deferred to the spring semester. We have preserved much of what we have offered in previous years, but we are also actively responding to current events. The curriculum will include a new seminar taught by Bérénice Reynaud called The Room that will look at a wide range of film and texts that address isolation, solitude and sequestration. Many other courses have been reshaped in response to the pandemic as well as the ongoing racial turmoil and its urgent call for anti-racist action. Chris Hill’s Documentary Inquiries , for one, will look particularly at ideas of community and community action under duress. We are excited to have Jheanelle Brown back with us this semester. She will be teaching Cinematic Voices: In Person, bringing what is sure to be an exciting line-up of visiting artists this fall. Other courses will be shaped to accommodate smaller modes of production, with assignments designed accordingly. All courses being taught remotely will be re-designed to be as effective as possible on-line.

As mentioned above, to ensure students’ ability to work remotely no matter what our circumstances, Film/Video’s technology access program will allow students to borrow computer and software packages. We are currently working out additional elements of the program to facilitate student productions. Details will be forthcoming.

Due to space restrictions, some facilities such as the optical printer, videographics room, darkroom and negative-cutting room will be limited to use by one or two people at a time, thus those spaces will be available by permission of a designated faculty member.

Students will work closely with their mentors to discover new perspectives and alternative ways of working as a result of our current state of affairs. In addition to careful production planning, philosophical questions about the role of art-making and the nature of one’s work at a moment of turmoil and an urgent call for racial and economic justice will necessarily be part of our conversation as a community. We recognize this moment as an opportunity for renewal and change, and look forward to what you will make of it.

This summer we will have a number of opportunities to get together remotely for visiting artist presentations and group discussions. Already in June, Kate Dollenmayer and Carmen Argote joined us to share their work and to talk about the role of walking in their respective art-making. This month, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz will hold an online seminar. Additional events are in the works. Students are invited to make and share work based on prompts provided at each event.

Program in Film and Video NEW Student Q&A Zoom session
Thursday / July 9 / 5:30 pm (Pacific Daylight time )
Meeting ID: 972 3001 6971
Password: 342294

Program in Film and Video RETURNING Student Q&A Zoom session
Friday / July 10 / 5:30 pm (Pacific Daylight time )
Meeting ID: 942 9136 1604
Password: 595750

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