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The AFI Conservatory is a division of the American Film Institute founded in 1969, located in Hollywood's Griffith Parkmarker. Dubbed by some as "Juilliardmarker for Filmmakers," the school is the only existing Master of Fine Arts conservatory in advanced film education. It is ranked in the top 5 graduate film programs along with USCmarker, UCLA, NYU and Columbia University by the Princeton Review and US News and World Report.

Over the years, the program has graduated 3,000 fellows, many of whom went on to become influential Hollywood filmmakers. Notable alumni include: John Cassavetes, David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Todd Field, Carl Franklin, Paul Schrader, Victor Nuñez, Patty Jenkins, Robert Elswit, Janusz Kaminski, Wally Pfister, Caleb Deschanel, Robert Richardson, Darren Aronofsky, Martin Brest, John Dahl, Bill Duke, Amy Heckerling, Mimi Leder, Matthew Libatique, John McTiernan, Edward Zwick, Arthur Dong, Scott Frank, Susannah Grant, Jeff Nathanson, Elizabeth Sung, Alon Bar, Chris Donahue, and Eric Red.

Conservatory Program

AFI Conservatory is a five-term Master of Fine Arts program in six disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design, and Screenwriting. Traditionally, the Conservatory accepts 28 students - called Fellows - per year for most disciplines and 14 for Design and Editing. Thousands are said to apply each year for the areas of Directing and Cinematography alone.

First Year - Fellows from all disciplines work on at least three digital video or high definition short films (up to 20 minutes), appropriately referred to as 'cycle projects'. Each of these first-year projects are accomplished by the fellows with a minimum of oversight from the senior faculty. The purported goal being to stimulate a flexible and creative approach to filmmaking within imposed budgetary constraints and without the crutch of seasoned oversight. These 'cycle projects' make up the core curriculum of the first year experience and amount to a 'boot camp" of filmmaking that simultaneously challenges and invigorates the fellows involved.

Second Year - Fellows work on at least one thesis short film, shot on digital video, high definition, 35mm film, or 16mm film, and develop portfolio materials (such as a reel and a feature film screenplay). They are responsible for raising the bulk of their own financing for these projects (average budget is $30,000), and must adhere to standard industry regulations, such as SAG charter rules, during filming. The senior faculty of the conservatory oversee the development of the 'second year' projects and monitor their development in a manner similar to what might be expected of an Executive Producer.

Student Work

AFI Conservatory student thesis or second year films can be seen at the AFI Los Angeles International Festival

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