CDA Boston | Learn Filmmaking
Learn filmmaking at The Center for Digital Arts. Certificates and courses in pre-production and post-production. Classes in lighting, recording, editing.
Whether it’s film, television or digital media, our network of professional filmmakers are training the next generation of cinematographers and storytellers. From pre-production to post-production, camera operation to screenwriting, get firsthand experience of this compelling medium while building a demo reel fit to compete.Apply now
Learn to write, shoot, direct, produce and edit with the Digital Filmmaking certificate. This comprehensive program takes students from pre-production to post-production. Using the latest equipment and technology available, master lighting, sound recording, editing aesthetics and documentary interviewing. The Digital Filmmaking program curriculum includes:
Students start learning the technical work flow that will enable them to function as professionals, and give them creative control of their own projects. This module introduces the basics of imaging systems and photographic equipment
This hands-on module introduces students to the common tools of lighting and light mounting and modification. Students practice common lighting fixtures, and fundamental controllable parameters of lighting: direction, quality, intensity and color. Students work in groups on exercises designed to explore these fundamentals.
One of the most crucial, but often-overlooked elements of filmmaking is sound. Students learn how to tone rooms to produce a controlled environment for their sound recording. Students learn interior and exterior sound recording techniques that can be applied to all film and video projects.
This module introduces students to editing their projects on non-linear editing software. Topics include media management, project organization, efficient editing practices, sound mixing, titling, transitions, filters and export.
This project has elements of non-fiction, such as interviews, and elements of fiction, such as dialog and action scenes. This project demands solid execution of basic technical skills, while providing practice in widely used types of shots and sequences. In addition, students assemble these shots in at least three different ways, to help in understanding the power of editing to shape storytelling.
Introduction to documentary form, communications objectives, types of shots, pre-production requirements. Students define and prep for group project(s).
Students receive technical instruction on how to light a range of interview styles, as well as strategies and practices of lighting spaces, using available light to best advantage, shooting under mixed light conditions, shooting exteriors based on natural light, and run-and-gun shooting.
Production of group doc project, shooting interviews, settings, activities, processes or other B-roll materials. Good camera usage is demanded. Appropriate solutions to lighting problems are expected. Good sound throughout is demanded.
At this point in the program, students have completed the Introduction to Non-Linear Editing course, and now move on to more advanced techniques for increased efficiency in their editing. This module focuses on advanced trimming techniques for finessing edits, multi-camera workflow, and introduces students to motion graphics and sound mixing techniques within the non-linear editing system.
Strategies for documentary editing are covered. The majority of the class time is allotted for students to edit together their documentary project. Special attention is given to the organization of project assets within the non-linear editing system.
This module links documentary approaches to other non-fiction programming, with plans of action, and when practical, structured exercises. Topics include events, news, life style, performance, and reality. Most people who work in these fields have solid documentary skills that are applied to the particular programming.
This module is the start of a broad section of the Program on Narrative filmmaking. This module focuses on the script. Standard formatting is introduced, as well as paradigms for story structure. Students analyze sections of existing scripts to see how storytelling building blocks can be seen within this blueprint for a movie.
The primary responsibility of the Director is storytelling. The instructor leads students in a process of defining what this means, and how it is executed in a narrative or fiction film. This typically includes exercises with professional-level actors, for student to learn basics of effectively communicating their storytelling intent. The methods and practices of casting are briefly discussed, to enable the group project.
Narrative cinematography is devoted to furthering the storytelling aims of the director, and specifics of the script. This module focuses on camera and lighting for coverage of dialog scenes (performance) and cinematic action scenes (storytelling with pictures). This includes hands-on exercises in focal length selection for consistency, and the use of moving camera within standard coverage.
A group narrative project is selected from a short list of scripts that are written specifically to offer both dialog-driven to action-oriented scenes. This is a hands-on project and students take turns in various production roles, with the instructor facilitating consistency. Students prepare a schedule and outline a budget. They must also source (with help) and lock locations, talent; and produce story-annotated scripts, shots lists, equipment lists, and any needed diagrams for camera or lighting.
Students shoot the short script their group has selected. Students are instructed in set hierarchy and protocol, and instructors provide supervision or consultation during the shoot. Like the short doc project, this short narrative project is primarily focused on learning the process, skills and techniques needed to complete a coherent and watch-able project. The majority of the class time is allotted for students to edit together their narrative project. Special attention is given to narrative edit pacing and edits by using split edits.
When a project has reached the picture-lock stage, where no more changes to the edit will be made, the filmmaker arrives at the finishing stage of the project. One of the tasks done in the finishing stage is the addition of motion graphics. This module focuses on using motion graphics software to enhance titles and credits, and how to use compositing techniques to blend layers of footage together and create dynamic animations that can help maintain the attention and interest of the viewer.
Students are introduced to a range of camera and lighting related technologies and skills that will expand their repertoire. This includes, but is not limited to: shooting with larger chip formats, intermediate and advanced testing of camera functions and imaging parameters, basic compositing and green screen work.
This module covers other tasks that are performed in the finishing stage of a project. These include color correction, visual effects and sound mixing. Also, how to deliver your project to these finishing departments, as in a collaborative professional work flow.
This is the start of a brief group project with the purpose of satisfying a client or commercial need. Virtually all filmmakers spend some of their time on commercial projects such as training, corporate communications, marketing oriented short films or TV ads. Since commercial production has clear demands, the Instructor spends some time functioning as the client, making clear what is required to fulfill their expectations.
This Project Cycle starts off with an advisory panel review of goals, aesthetic and technical targets, so that students have the best chance for success in their project. Obstacles in the way of success are defined; collaboration plans are discussed and students can get some answers to any vexing issues that might impede execution. Students execute their project plans and continue shooting.
Students should have a picture lock for their project, and be able to present it to an Advisory Panel. The group discusses how to best finalize the project for presentation and inclusion in the Student Reel. Students can use time not devoted to the Practicum Project, to improve their project, and implement finishing techniques, so they can put their best foot forward at the Screening, and for their future employ.
This course provides the opportunity for students to refine and review foundation-level topics in preparation for the advanced applied courses that follow. Students will also work with their instructor to propose and commit to a long-term extracurricular project, focusing on a subject of personal interest. Personal projects will be presented during the Portfolio course at the end of the program.
This final pair of courses begin the process of focusing and defining each student’s creative identity by writing a biographical artist’s statement, then selecting, reviewing and refining a portfolio that best defines his or her current creative ability and professional ambition. Working together as a class along with meetings with portfolio advisors and through focused individual effort, students will learn how to define and present their distinctive vision to their chosen field of study.
Let our crew of industry leaders, influencers and experts challenge and inspire you.
R.J. is a non-linear editor, visual effects and motion graphics artist, colorist and Apple Certified Master Trainer, with over 4,000 hours of in-classroom teaching experience. He has created class curriculum for the film and photo departments at The Center for Digital Arts, as well as for the journalism department at Boston University. He has guest lectured at Harvard University, Boston University, New England Media Coalition, and many other film and video-related presentations.
In his professional post-production work, R.J. has worked for a number of clients including New Balance, Alienware/Dell Computer, Proctor & Gamble, Life is Good, and New England Sports Network, to name a few. He also has worked extensively in the feature film and short film arena, with his work screening internationally, including on Netflix, Filmbox Arthouse Europe, Fandor, and numerous film festivals across the US.
Cheryl Eagan-Donovan is a filmmaker whose debut documentary All Kindsa Girls screened at film festivals and art house theaters in London, Toronto and throughout the U.S., is featured in Paul Sherman’s book Big Screen Boston, and was short-listed for the PBS series POV. Eagan-Donovan served on the Board of Directors of the nonprofits Women in Film & Video New England and The Next Door Theater, and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship. She studied Shakespeare and wrote poetry as a literature major at Goddard College, has a BS in Finance & Business Administration from Boston University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. She has published articles about Shakespeare, screenwriting, and film in literary journals and magazines. She was awarded grants from the Shakespeare Fellowship Foundation and the De Vere Society to support the production of her new feature length film, Nothing is Truer than Truth, based on the book Shakespeare By Another Name. She currently teaches screenwriting, film, and literature at Lesley University, Northeastern University, Lasell College, and Grub Street Center for Creative Writing.
Jeremy Jed Hammel started his career in the Hollywood studio system (Tonight Show, NBC’s "ER," June Beallor Productions/Universal Studios, Hallmark), and has expanded his credits to include producing and directing music videos, indie films, and commercials.
One of the films he produced, “The Legacy,” has garnered over 1 million views on Youtube, won Best Film at San Diego Comic Con, received national theatrical distribution, and is available online at Hulu.com.
Hammel co-directed and edited a video for music artist Lo-Fi Sugar, who went on to chart a number one song on Beatport from a number two Billboard charted Electronic Album with international star DJ, Paul Van Dyk’s for their song, “So High”.
Hammel has produced projects for The American Film Institute and NBC’s national network show, “Later,” and directed a national long-form piece for Alienware/Dell Computers. Indie films that he produced or directed have screened at over 100 film festivals worldwide and won an award or two along the way. He founded and directs the 6th annual Filmshift Film Festival and co-founded City Awake, a social impact festival of 90+ events and over 200 organizations. Hammel has taught video production and video editing classes at CDA, the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, and the Boston Adult Education Center.
R. Berred Ouellette has won numerous awards for sound production in music and film over the course of his career. His recent production credits include: Technical Director for the National Public Radio program From the Top; Sound Designer and Post Production Supervisor for the Hayden Planetarium at the Boston Museum of Science; and Re-Recording Mixer for Trillium Studios film production company.
Berred brings a wealth of practical knowledge to his work with music and film sound production, drawing on many years of experience as an independent sound designer in a wide variety of venues. He has engineered and produced soundtracks for film, record labels, television and other media, including; art, science, and history installations. His work incorporates sound effects, ambient noise, and music from many genres from jazz and classical to folk and acoustic, rock, pop, and ethnic.
In addition to his work for other agencies, Berred runs his own sound production company RBO Sound, which provides studio recording, mixing, and editing services; and a sound reinforcement company Eastern Live Concert Sound, which supplies systems and personnel for live sound events. He is also active in teaching and mentoring students at a variety of educational institutes, including CDA, Tufts University, Massachusetts College of Art, and Berklee College of Music.
Travis Trudell earned his Associate of Arts Degree in Film at Maine Media College in 2001. After graduating Travis moved to Massachusetts and started working on local film and television productions.
As of 2015 Travis has worked as an Lighting Electrician on many feature films including the Oscar winning The Departed and the films Gone, Baby Gone, 21, Shutter Island, Grown Ups, Grown Ups 2, The Town, The Social Network, The Finest Hours and Black Mass. He has taught for over 10 years and loves to talk about films. He currently works and lives in the Boston area with his documentary filmmaker wife and their two children.
*At The Center for Digital Arts, we don’t believe you should have to choose between professional success and creative fulfillment. We prepare our students for thriving careers as digital creators and builders. Our graduates are Working: