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San Francisco Art Institute (Faculty of Filmmaking)

Founded in 1871, the San Francisco Art Institute is one of the U.S.’s oldest and most prestigious schools of higher education in contemporary art. It boasts an illustrious list of alumni in all of its areas of focus. But most important, it has consistently held fast to its core philosophy of creating programs where creativity and critical thinking are fostered in one of the most open, innovative, and interdisciplinary environments in higher education. At SFAI we focus on educating artists who will become the creative leaders of their generation.

The Film Department at SFAI is one of the oldest and most influential in the United States. Its present and past faculty comprise internationally recognized filmmakers and leaders in the field of experimental filmmaking. San Francisco Art Institute’s filmmaking program is unlike any other. New approaches to film and video are not just studied at SFAI; they are invented. The distinguished filmmaker Sidney Peterson initiated the first filmmaking courses at SFAI in 1947. During his tenure, an historic group of films that were instrumental in the successive development of the American “underground” were made. Twenty years later, celebrated filmmaker Robert Nelson established a filmmaking department based in the avant-garde fine art tradition. This genre of filmmaking has flourished and has been known by a variety of terms, including experimental, non-narrative, poetic, personal, alternative, and artist’s film. During the 1970s, a mixture of film genres was produced in the department, including documentary and narrative.

Building on this rich, avant-garde tradition and commitment to alternative/independent filmmaking, the curriculum continues to respond to the development of new technologies and the rethinking of boundaries between different forms of media. Working in close collaboration with the Center for Media Culture, the Filmmaking Department offers a variety of analog and digital studio production and post-production courses, specialized technical workshops, and advanced topic courses that combine hands-on film/video work with historical and theoretical discussion and debate. The Filmmaking curriculum acknowledges the interrelationships between film and other media. SFAI’s cross-disciplinary course offerings further broaden students’ artistic and intellectual practice. Students are encouraged to explore ways to combine film with other media, such as performance, writing, sound, or installation.

San Francisco Art Institute and EARS XXI, a Los Angeles-based new media company, have recently formed a collaborative partnership that established the first high-definition research lab in the San Francisco Bay Area, housed at SFAI’s Chestnut Street campus. The lab’s goals are to give students the ability to experiment with and discover new possibilities for using high-definition video technology. Lab equipment includes a Sony F900 HDCam camcorder and support equipment, Panasonic 24P DV camcorders, a Final Cut Pro-based uncompressed HD/SD editing suite, and postproduction software, including Autodesk’s Combustion and Digidesign’s ProTools.

School name:San Francisco Art InstituteFaculty of Filmmaking
Address:800 Chestnut Street
Zip & city:CA 94133 California
Phone:(415) 771-7020

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Faculty of Filmmaking Film School Location

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