Production Option - Film and Animation BFA

Develop and refine your creative approach as you produce innovative and artistic cinema.

Overview for Production Option - Film and Animation BFA

  • Spend a semester in Los Angeles with Study Away: LA, RIT's semester in LA where you can intern at top studios and entertainment companies, and take two courses to complement the study-away experience.
  • Explore fictional, documentary, and experimental live-action filmmaking.

As a student in the production option within the film and animation BFA program, you will explore fictional, documentary, and experimental live-action filmmaking. With insightful and accomplished faculty teaching in state-of-the-art facilities, students receive an unparalleled film education. This option is part of the film and animation BFA program.

This path focuses on production through visual and sound artistry utilizing hands-on experience with the camera, editing, and sound equipment. Students will understand the aesthetic principles of the art form and develop a range of technical skills while producing creative work from day one until graduation. Students also have access to labs and classrooms equipped with the latest software, technology, sound, and screening options to complete any project.

RIT offers more production experience than its peers and, as a result, draws students from all over the world. Students write scripts, recruit actors and crew, research documentary subjects, edit, mix soundtracks, live through critiques and screenings, and wait for the applause. This option requires many exercises and a minimum of three significant works, one of which is a year-long senior thesis. Students have been finalists in the Student Academy Awards while multiple production alumni have won Primetime Emmy Awards due in part to the extensive practical experience they received at RIT.

Graduates are qualified to begin careers in the industry or create their own independent productions. Work produced by students and alumni has been consistently honored with awards at international and national festivals.

Study Filmmaking in LA

Study Away: LA gives film and animation majors the opportunity to spend a semester in Los Angeles learning from industry professionals. The bulk of your time will be spent at internships, but you'll also complete two courses that will complement your study-away experience. Learn more about Study Away: LA and how you can gain industry experience in traditional filmmaking, animation, or cutting-edge areas like virtual production in Los Angeles, the epicenter of the global entertainment universe. 



  • Movies, TV, and Music

  • Writing and Editing

Careers and Experiential Learning

Typical Job Titles

Agent Chief Lighting Technician
Creative Director Director
Documentary Filmmaker Experimental Artist
Producer Production Manager
Production Sound Mixer Supervising Sound Editor
Visual Effects Supervisor Writer

Cooperative Education and Internships

What’s different about an RIT education? It’s the career experience you gain by completing cooperative education and internships with top companies in every single industry. You’ll earn more than a degree. You’ll gain real-world career experience that sets you apart.

Co-ops and internships take your knowledge and turn it into know-how. Co-op in the College of Art and Design provides hands-on experience that enables you to apply your artistic capabilities in dynamic professional settings while you make valuable connections between classwork and real-world applications.

Students in the production option are strongly encouraged to complete a cooperative education or internship experience.

Creative Industry Day

RIT’s Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education hosts Creative Industry Day, which connects students majoring in art, design, film and animation, photography, and select computing majors with companies, organizations, creative agencies, design firms, and more. You’ll be able to network with company representatives and interview directly for open co-op and permanent employment positions.

Featured Work

Featured Profiles

Curriculum for Production Option - Film and Animation BFA

Film and Animation (production option), BFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
A fundamental course in non-synchronous film production and an introduction to digital video editing. Filmmaking is presented as a means of interpretation and expression. This course combines technical information in motion picture exposure and editing with a theoretical and practical approach to motion picture continuity. Production is in non-sync format and post-production is digital software. Students furnish film, tape and processing. **Fee: There is a lab free required for this course. ** (This class is restricted to 1st and 2nd year students in FILMAN-BFA or DIGCIME-BS.) Lecture 2 (Fall or Spring).
Documentary Field Practices
This foundation level course introduces students to documentary film as a creative and socially engaging form of storytelling. In addition to aesthetic and conceptual skills, production techniques focus on the ability to develop filming strategies, gathering clean sound, filming to edit, and interviewing skills. In addition, the relationship between filmmaker and subject, will be examined, including the ethical challenges of representing real life subjects. Critical thinking skills will be employed as we analyze the different styles of documentary film. Students will work in small documentary crews out in the field learning the use of microphones, field lighting, handheld and other non-traditional camerawork, selecting/interviewing documentary subjects and capturing material with proper coverage in order to build scenes in the edit room. (Prerequisite: SOFA-101 or equivalent course.) Lab 3 (Fall, Summer).
Fundamentals of Screenwriting
This course will introduce students to the forms and techniques of writing for visual media, particularly the short film. Students will develop resources for finding stories and concepts that can be turned into films. Students will be responsible for writing a short script of their own choosing and for completing several brief written exercises in areas such as personal storytelling, character development, dialogue, and plot. Scripts written in this course can be used as the basis for films produced in other classes. (This class is restricted to 1st and 2nd year students in FILMAN-BFA or DIGCIME-BS.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Animation I (General Education – Artistic Perspective)
This class will introduce students to the gamut of animation thinking and making through classroom instruction and hands-on practical experience. Lecture and readings will emphasize the process, theory and practice of animated filmmaking with extensive film screenings to illustrate each technique and related aesthetics. Hands-on supervised studio sessions will guide students to an intuitive understanding of the process of producing animation and students will use this understanding to analyze various animated works. Each student will develop their personal vision through assigned projects utilizing the material discussed in class. **This course has a facilities fee for Non-SOFA students.** Lab 3 (Fall, Spring).
Fundamentals of Computers and Imaging Technology
This course provides an introductory overview to computer systems and to principles associated with motion picture technologies. Topics covered include computer history, basics in computer architecture basics, operating systems, HTML and networking. Human vision and perception, image capture and display technologies (both analog and digital), digital image processing and post-production equipment and software are also covered. The course focuses on exposing the students to basic principles necessary to proceed with subsequent courses with production or animation focus. (This class is restricted to 1st and 2nd year students in FILMAN-BFA.) Lab 3 (Fall, Spring).
Film History and Theory I
Film History and Theory I is a motion picture examination and readings course. It will give media production students the opportunity to trace the development of many of the techniques and forms in what now constitute traditional and expanded definitions of cinema. The course is taught from the perspective of a practicing filmmaker involved in the critical exploration of film language as well as its historical and cultural dimensions. In addition to lectures, the course includes weekly screenings of seminal works from the history of cinema. Screenings support class lectures. (This class is restricted to 1st and 2nd year students in FILMAN-BFA or DIGCIME-BS.) Lec/Lab 5 (Fall).
RIT 365: RIT Connections
RIT 365 students participate in experiential learning opportunities designed to launch them into their career at RIT, support them in making multiple and varied connections across the university, and immerse them in processes of competency development. Students will plan for and reflect on their first-year experiences, receive feedback, and develop a personal plan for future action in order to develop foundational self-awareness and recognize broad-based professional competencies. Lecture 1 (Fall, Spring).
Any 100-level ARTH course (General Education- Global Perspective)
Any 100-level ARTH course (General Education- Elective)
General Education – First-Year Writing (WI)
General Education – Ethical Perspective
Second Year
Production Processes
This course is an introduction to all aspects of professional film/video narrative production. Students produce short projects while learning basic shooting and crewing procedures, studio protocol, equipment handling and maintenance, and basic sync editing. (Prerequisite: SOFA-101 or equivalent course.) Lecture 2 (Fall, Spring).
Basic Sound Recording
Students will learn to work with sound and to distinguish and evaluate proper sound techniques for film and animation productions. The course lays the foundation for professional work in the sound industry. Each student records audio and prepares a mixed soundtrack to professional quality standards. (Prerequisite: SOFA-101 or equivalent course.) Lab 2 (Fall, Spring).
This course is an introduction to the arts of directing and acting with an emphasis on script analysis, performance, and blocking. Students direct and act in scenes from professional productions. Scenes are rehearsed outside of class, and then staged and critiqued in class. (Prerequisites: SOFA-102 or SOFA-101 or equivalent course.) Lec/Lab 3 (Fall, Spring).
Dramatic Structure (WI-PR)
This course explores the theories of dramatic structure from Aristotle to the present and applies these theories to current and classic dramatic works. The class also explores dramatic script structure as it is used in dramatic works on stage and screen. (Prerequisites: SOFA-112 and (SOFA-131 or SOFA-106) or equivalent courses and completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement.) Lab 3 (Fall).
Choose one of the following:
   Documentary Workshop
Students will make a short documentary film on a subject they choose. Students plan for pre-production including research, contacting possible subjects, and writing a proposal. During the production phase of the film, students will learn interviewing skills, how to direct a documentary crew, and how to work with their subjects. During post production students will learn how to organize their material into a short film. Students will complete projects for screening at the end of the semester. (Prerequisites: SOFA-105 or SOFA-502 or PHPJ-315 or FDTN-141 or equivalent course.) Lecture 4 (Fall or Spring).
   Fiction Workshop
Students will direct short fiction projects using either film or digital media and also serve on the production crew for other projects. Students specializing in a cinematic craft will work in important creative capacities on two or more projects. Students are encouraged to explore individual styles and concepts. Intensive pre-production protocol and documentation are followed. Editing and sound design will be completed as well. Students will complete projects for screening at the end of the semester. Students can retake this course as a SOFA elective once they have completed Documentary or Radical Cinema Workshop. (Prerequisite: SOFA-202 or equivalent course.) Lecture 4 (Fall, Spring).
   Radical Cinema Workshop
Choose one of the following:
   General Education – Natural Science Inquiry Perspective
   General Education – Scientific Principles Perspective
   General Education – Mathematical Perspective A or B
Fundamentals of Editing
CAD Elective‡
General Education – Social Perspective
Third Year
Senior Capstone Seminar
Students discuss and generate written plans for their senior films or capstone projects. Each student will secure a film and animation faculty adviser for their senior year. (Co-requisite: Successful completion of one of the following courses: SOFA-211 or SOFA-212 or SOFA-213 or equivalent courses.) Lecture 2 (Spring).
Business and Careers in Film
An introduction to all aspects of the business side of professional film/video narrative documentary and commercial production. Students will form production companies and develop a business plan while considering alternative careers in film, basic financial and legal protocol, and mental preparation needed to enter the film business market. Resumes and reels are assigned projects. (Prerequisite: SOFA-202 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
History and Aesthetics Electives
CAD Electives‡
SOFA Craft Choice§
Open Electives
General Education – Immersion 1 (WI-GE)
Fourth Year
Production Capstone I
The first of two classes designed to advance students toward the completion of a capstone. It will advance students from capstone proposal toward the completion of a project. Students will also take part in weekly critiques to present their work and discuss the work of their classmates. At the completion of this course, students should be at the halfway point of their set project. (Prerequisite: SOFA-306 or equivalent course.) Lecture 4 (Fall).
Production Capstone II
This course will lead students toward the completion of their capstone. Students will take part in weekly critiques, present their work, and discuss the work of their classmates. At the end of this course, students will complete their capstone and take part in a public screening of their finished work or craft experience. (Prerequisite: SOFA-416 or equivalent course.) Lecture 4 (Fall).
Open Electives
General Education – Immersion 2, 3
CAD Elective‡
History and Aesthetics Elective
Total Semester Credit Hours

Please see General Education Curriculum (GE) for more information.

(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.

Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.

† SOFA production workshop courses include Documentary Workshop (SOFA-211), Fiction Workshop (SOFA-212), and Radical Cinema Workshop (SOFA-213). Students must complete two production workshops over the course of three semesters, starting in the spring of the second year and ending in the spring of the third year. Once the student has completed two different workshops, courses may be repeated for credit.

‡ CAD Elective - any College of Art and Design course as well as Composing for Media (FNRT-208), Composing for Video Games and Interactive Media (FNRT-328).

§ SOFA craft choice courses include Advanced Sound Recording (SOFA-521), Advanced Editing (SOFA-523), Advanced Directing (SOFA-524), Writing the Short (SOFA-526), Advanced Cinematography I (SOFA-578).


History and Aesthetics Electives

Any "ARTH" undergraduate course
African Film
This course considers the diversity, contours and synergies of African films and filmmaking, traversing the continent to view films from Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Egypt and Mali. Though much scholarship has focused on influential African filmmakers and nationally located cinemas, the straight-to-video systems of the 1980s and 1990s had a profound impact on African films and filmmaking. Nollywood and other video film industries began to dominate film production and transnational mobility, influencing new film technologies and industries, accessibility and addressability across the globe. Topics in this course include the influence of African film directors on filmmaking, and critical developments in major industries; Nollywood and beyond, and the cultural aesthetics, politics and economics that affect their global mobility and popular appeal; postcolonial identities and power; music and oral traditions of storytelling; didactic, post-colonial cinema with moral, political missions vs. ‘arthouse’ approaches; Afrofuturist and speculative cinema; channels such as African Magic that are shown in more than 50 African countries; and the effects of video streaming on global stardom and popularity. Students will learn about diverse African films and approaches to filmmaking, and the vibrant people and creative cultures that make up these film industries. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
Visual Anthropology
We see others as we imagine them to be, in terms of our values, not as they see themselves. This course examines ways in which we understand and represent the reality of others through visual media, across the boundaries of culture, gender, and race. It considers how and why visual media can be used to represent or to distort the world around us. Pictorial media, in particular ethnographic film and photography, are analyzed to document the ways in which indigenous and native peoples in different parts of the world have been represented and imagined by anthropologists and western popular culture. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
History of Graphic Design
This course will focus on the development of graphic communication from prehistory through the present. This course will provide students with knowledge and understanding of the places, people, events; historical and cultural factors; and technological innovations that have influenced the practice of graphic design. Lectures are complemented by guest speakers, archive visits, videos, research projects, critical essay writing, and discussion. (Prerequisites: ARTH-136 or equivalent course and completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Women Pioneers in Design
This course will center on the contributions made by Modernist women designers. Emphasis will be placed on their unheralded pioneering efforts. Exemplars from the field will be presented, set in a historical context. Lectures are complemented by guest speakers, videos, participatory exercises, discussion, and critical essay writing. (This course is restricted to undergraduate students in CAD with at least 2nd year standing.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
The French Heritage in Films
Heritage films are central to the French cinematographic production. They enable the transmission and the reevaluation of a tradition that lies at the core of French cultural identity. This course examines a selection of French films adapted from both canonical and non-canonical texts representative of major events, trends, social issues, and artistic movements that contributed to shaping modern France. Students will become familiar with world-renowned French novels, short stories, comic books, and films. The course deals with topics such as aristocratic culture, racial identity in France, the myth of the resistance and the legacy of the Second World War, France’s rural past, the French colonial experience, women and bourgeois culture, the long-standing tradition of comic books and comedy in France, the Tradition of Quality, the French New Wave, and heritage films. The course also examines the interconnectedness of French culture and the cultures of the United States, England, and former French colonies. It notably explores how the French colonial experience informed the development of French cinema, and how French heritage films were both inspired and reinterpreted by British and American cinematographic industries to reflect the cultures and values of those societies. Conducted in English. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Histories and Aesthetics of Photography I
The objective of this course, part one of a two semester sequence, is to present an overview of the multiple, intersecting histories and aesthetic practices of photography as utilized for fine art, snapshot, documentary, scientific, commercial and propaganda purposes in a global perspective. Course lectures include the medium's pre-history and a detailed development of the camera obscura. Students will learn about many technical processes, as well as, the multiple interpretations of notable images during the period 1800-1915. Lecture 3 (Fall, Summer).
Histories and Aesthetics of Photography II
The objective of this course, the second course of a two-semester sequence, is to present an overview of the multiple, intersecting histories and aesthetic practices of photography from the development of Modernism to the present, including the medium's transformation by digital imaging in the 21st century. Photography's applications within fine art, documentary, scientific, journalistic, commercial and vernacular practices will be investigated within a global perspective, but primary emphasis is placed upon developments and movements within the United States and Europe. Lecture 3 (Spring, Summer).
Film Sound Theory: Music
This course is one of three in the study of film sound theory. Through readings, focused group discussion, and the viewing of/listening to select films, the course promotes critical analysis of the varied and profound uses of music in sound design. Addressed is the history of music from the silent era to the modern score. The concepts studied include the modal changes in point-of-audition, and positioning across diegeses. Newer topics including audio-visualization and ventriloquism theory are also addressed. (This course is available to RIT degree-seeking undergraduate students.) Lec/Lab 6 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
Film Sound Theory: Effects
This course is one of three in the study of film sound theory. Through readings, focused group discussion, and the viewing of/listening to select films, the course promotes critical analysis of the varied and profound uses of effects in sound design. Addressed is the history of effects from the early sound era to the modern design. The concepts studied include the modal changes in point-of-audition, and positioning across diegeses. Other topics like complementarity and the acousmetre acousmatic are also addressed. (This course is available to RIT degree-seeking undergraduate students.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
Film Sound Theory: Voice
Through readings, focused group discussion, and the viewing/listening of select films, the course promotes critical analysis of the varied and profound uses of voice in sound design. The history of voice from the silent era to the modern sound design will be addressed. The concepts studied include the modal changes in point-of-audition, and positioning across diegeses. Other topics will also be addressed: vococentric mixing and separation, dialogue theory, etc. At the conclusion of the course each student will present on a chosen concept within film voice theory. (This course is available to RIT degree-seeking undergraduate students.) Lab 3 (Fa/sp/su).
History and Aesthetics of Animation
This course will explore the beginnings, the evolution, the creative and practical history of the animated film, including prehistory of animation, early film and animation history, major trends, artists, animation studios, theoretical distinctions and international identities in animation. Issues of animation aesthetics will also be elucidated through discussions, readings and reviews of exemplary films to emphasize the unique characteristics of the animated art form and how those characteristics are used as a means of interpretation and expression. Both orthodox and unorthodox animation will be highlighted. Films will be screened at every lecture. (Prerequisites: SOFA-121 or equivalent course and completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement.) Lec/Lab 4 (Fall, Spring).
New Documentary Issues
This course will examine the current trends in documentary film during the last decade. Students will view 1-2 documentary films each week. Students will examine each film critically; analyzing the film’s theme, structure, style, relationship to reality, and effectiveness. In addition, students will examine how current filmmakers interpret and build upon the basic ideas and discourse that have defined documentary filmmaking since its beginnings. (Prerequisites: SOFA-106 or SOFA-131 or equivalent courses.) Lec/Lab 4 (Fall).
Film History
This course examines selected, varying film topics in a wider socio-historical context. Seminar themes change each year and may include topics such as post-war German film, films of the Holocaust, Japanese film, surrealist and magic realist film, Soviet film, Native Americans on film, etc. Students are expected to participate actively in the course discussions. (Prerequisites: SOFA-106 or SOFA-131 or equivalent courses.) Lec/Lab 5 (Fall, Spring).
Documentary Film History
This course will examine the development of documentary film from 1920 to the present day. Students will explore central themes in documentary filmmaking, including the Grierson social documentary, the Flaherty romantic tradition, cinema verite, propaganda films, first-person narratives, and experimental documentary. Through film viewings, class discussions, and assigned readings, the students will critically examine how documentary film is constructed, keeping in mind the critical relationship between the film’s content and its meaning. (Prerequisite: SOFA-131 or equivalent course.) Lec/Lab 5 (Spring).
American Film Since the Sixties
This course examines the history and aesthetics of the motion picture in the United States since the late 1960s, when the classical studio era ended. Emphasis will be placed on the analysis of both the work of major American filmmakers and the evolution of major American film genres between 1967 and 2001. Among the filmmakers to be studied are Kazan, Cassavetes, Penn, Coppola, Scorsese, Spielberg, Allen, Seidelman, Lee, Burton, Altman, Tarantino, Coen, and Lynch. The course will consider the evolution of such traditional Hollywood genres as the gangster film, the romantic comedy, and the Hollywood movie, study the development of new, blended genres, investigate the rise of the blockbuster, explore the rise of the Independents, and follow the aesthetic changes that occurred since the 1967. The films will be studied within the context of contemporary cultural and political events, and will be discussed from several viewpoints, including aesthetic, technical, social, and economic. The ways in which gender, race, and class are constructed through the movies will also be a major focus of study. Lecture 3 (Spring).

Admissions and Financial Aid

This option is part of the Film and Animation BFA. Please visit the degree program page for admission requirements.

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Financial Aid and Scholarships

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