Studies

In addition to teaching the craft of filmmaking, the DFFB prioritises the development of each student’s individual creative voice as well as practical—and intensive—creative collaboration.

The DFFB offers five full-time programmes of study (also known as specialisations): Screenwriting, Cinematography, Directing, Producing and Editing & Sound. Before starting a specialisation, all students must complete a general first year during which they learn all the filmmaking disciplines.

The DFFB’s programmes of study (and their entrance requirements) are comparable to the fine arts or arts and sciences programmes of German state universities. The DFFB, however, does not offer a master’s or bachelor’s degree.

For directing, producing, and cinematography students, the programme ends with the production and completion of a graduation film. For screenwriting students, it ends with the completion of a graduation screenplay. All graduates receive a DFFB diploma.

Every year, 6–10 students from Germany and abroad are admitted into each programme. Students take certain courses all together; other courses are divided by specialisation.

In addition to teaching the craft of filmmaking, the DFFB prioritises the development of each student’s individual voice as well as the creative collaboration between students in each specialisation.

Practical and theoretical classes are taught by lecturers who work in the film industry: screenwriters, producers, directors, cinematographers, editors, sound engineers, etc.

Screenwriting students require three and a half years to complete their programme; directing, producing, and cinematography students require four years. In addition to these four years, students in the directing, producing, and cinematography specialisations must develop and complete their graduation film, which usually requires two additional years.

One academic year is divided into three teaching and production blocks (trimesters) and consists mainly of courses, which each last a minimum of one week. This structure allows students to work intensively with their lecturers. There are also weekly events for all students and staff, such as film screenings and discussions.

At the end of each trimester, one week is reserved for students to present—and discuss— recent films and writing projects to their peers and teachers.

Structure of the programme

The screenwriting specialisation’s general curriculum takes three and a half years to complete. The directing, producing, and cinematography specialisations are divided into two stages: basic studies and main studies (Grundstudium and Hauptstudium). During the main studies, students can choose courses and workshops. However, during the two-year basic studies, students complete a fixed and compulsory curriculum.

In their first year, all students—regardless of their knowledge level and specialisation—must attend the same courses together. The objectives of these courses are the following: for students to gain a general understanding of the tasks required in each filmmaking specialisation; for students to acquaint themselves with other filmmaking approaches: for students to find partners for future work: for students to experiment and develop their unique filmmaking perspective. During this first year, students create both fiction and documentary films, and they can shoot on 16 mm film.

At the end of the first year—and after two filmmaking exercises during the first two trimesters—each student directs one short film: the first-year film (also known as EK, max. 7 min.). Additionally, each student works in the areas of camera, lighting, and sound recording on their peers’ films.

During their second year, students begin to specialise in their chosen areas. The second year’s curriculum is mainly composed of seminars. There are also opportunities to work with students in other specialisations. The second year is the final year of the basic studies. At the end of the second year, all second-year students work on a second-year film (also known as GK, max. 20 min.)) according to their specialisation.

Courses in the main studies are offered to all students; students can therefore choose their own courses and are encouraged to take an interdisciplinary approach. The curriculum of the main studies focuses on the professional and artistic development of each student. Students are encouraged to learn about all the different aspects of filmmaking to be able to create films within the existing cultural and economic structures. In addition to courses, there are several educational events throughout the year such as story development colloquia, individual consultations, masterclasses, trips to film festivals, and international exchange programmes.

During the main studies, film projects are frequently developed and produced. Screenwriting students write scripts for short films, feature-length films, genre projects, and pilots and bibles for television series. Directing, cinematography, and producing students shoot their third-year film (also known as IF, max. 30 min.) in teams, and then begin developing their graduation films, which can be of any length or genre.

For graduation films over 80 minutes, main study students can raise funds via outside funders, including co-production sources and pre-purchase offers from German public service broadcasters. As a result of this financial support, the school completes 8–12 feature-length graduation films each year.

In addition to compulsory projects, students can participate in extracurricular film projects or apply to external funding programmes with a film project. These programmes currently include RBB Movies (15-minute films co-commissioned with the Berlin broadcaster RBB), LEUCHSTOFFE (support of ambitious graduation film projects by RBB and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg), and DIGI.TALe (funding programme for the development of expanded and new media projects from Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg).  For these projects, students are supervised by our senior lecturers, the study department, and the director of the DFFB. During production, students work closely with the DFFB production department, and they are supported by DFFB staff during post-production.