In addition to teaching film craft, the DFFB attaches particular importance to the development of each student’s individual creative voice, and to intense creative collaboration through practice.
The DFFB offers four specialist directions of study in its full-time degree: Directing, Producing, Cinematography, and Screenwriting. A fifth specialisation, Editing/Sound, will be introduced in Autumn 2018. All these strands follow a generalist year in which all students take on all craft jobs.
In terms of entrance requirements and scope of studies, the DFFB is comparable to German state universities of fine arts, or arts and sciences programmes of study. The DFFB, however, does not offer master’s or bachelor’s degrees. For directing, producing, and cinematography students, the curriculum 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 specialist department. Students are grouped together in certain courses and divided according to their specialisations in others.
In addition to imparting the necessary craft skills, the DFFB attaches particular importance to the development of each student’s individual voice, and to the creative collaboration between students of each specialisation.
Practical and theoretical classes are conducted by lecturers who work in the film industry: screenwriters, producers, directors, cinematographers, editors, sound engineers, and others.
The duration of studies varies depending on the specialisation. Screenwriting students require three and a half years to complete their programme, while 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 takes another two years.
One academic year is divided into three teaching and production blocks (trimesters) and consists mainly of classes which take place over the course of one or several weeks. This structure allows students to work intensively with their lecturers. There are also weekly events for the whole academy, such as film screenings and discussions.
At the end of each trimester, one week is reserved to present recent films and writing projects for discussion within the academy.
Structure of the programme
The Screenwriting specialisation has a general curriculum that takes three and a half years to complete. The directing, producing, and cinematography specialisations are sub-divided into basic and main studies (Grundstudium and Hauptstudium). During the two-year basic studies, students complete a fixed, compulsory syllabus, and can then freely choose classes and workshops during the main studies. In the first year of study, all students, regardless of their level of knowledge and their specialisation, share the same classes in a generalist programme. The aims of the first year are for students to gain a general understanding of the tasks carried out within each filmmaking discipline, as well as to acquaint themselves with other filmmakers’ approaches, to find partners for future work; to experiment; to question; to develop an attitude towards the medium. Students create both fiction and documentary films, and one special feature of the year is the presence of 16mm analogue filmmaking. At the end of the first academic year, and after two filmmaking excercises in the first two trimesters, each student will be responsible for directing one short film – the first year film (EK, 7 minutes maximum). Additionally, each student will take positions including camera, lighting, sound and recording for the other films made in each group.
The second year of study begins deeper specialization in individual disciplines. This year is mainly taken up with subject-specific seminars, and includes selected opportunities to work with students in other fields of study. At the end of the second year, the end of the basic studies, all students of the year participate in the second year film (GK) according to their specialisation. Each short film (20 minutes maximum) involves Directing, Cinematography and Producing students. Screenwriters often become involved as writers, or co-writers.
Classes for the main studies are offered to all, leaving the choice to the individual student. Interdisciplinary study is expressly encouraged. The syllabus of the main studies serves the purpose of professional development, and at the same time is intended to provide orientation and inspiration for the individual’s artistic progression. Students are encouraged to acquire a broad range of knowledge, helping them in order to be able to make films under the existing cultural and economic structures. In addition to the classes, there are several educational events throughout the year such as story development colloquia, individual consultations, masterclasses, trips to film festivals, and international exchange programmes.
Within the main study programme, further film projects are routinely developed and produced. Screenwriting students write scripts for short films as well as for feature-length films, genre projects, and pilots and “bibles” for television series. Directing, cinematography, and producing students shoot their third year film (IF, 30 minutes maximum) in teams, and then begin developing their graduation film, which can be of any length or genre.
DFFB main study students are able to raise funds for graduation films over 80 minutes via outside funders, including co-production sources and pre-purchase offers from German public service broadcasters. As a result, the school completes 8-12 feature-length graduation films each year. In addition to these compulsory study 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 more ambitious graduation film projects by RBB and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg), and DIGI.TALe (funding program for the development of expanded and new media projects from Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg). For all such projects, students units are supervised by our senior lecturers, the Study Department, and the Director of the DFFB. During production, they work closely with the DFFB Production Department, and they are supported by DFFB staff in post-production.