Digital Filmmaking: From Initial Concept to Final Edit

Open to students entering grades 11 or 12 or freshman year of college in the fall
I - June 29–July 17, 2020
II - July 21–August 7, 2020
Days & Time:
Monday–Friday, 11:10 a.m.–1:00 p.m. and 3:10–5:00 p.m.
Yudho Aditya, Johnson Cheng, Mark Christopher

“A great class for filmmakers of all levels, whether you're just starting out or experienced, this course has something to offer to everybody.” – Austin K. | Beijing, China

Course Description

Participants learn all the basics of making a strong, visually-driven short film with an emphasis on narrative storytelling. The course focuses on the fundamentals of video production: essential film grammar, story development, script, music, and sound.

Working in small groups, students shoot three shorter pieces before collaborating to make a final film. The exercises start off simply, adding a new element of filmmaking with each new assignment.

For the final film, students work sequentially through the stages of production: initial concept, synopsis, treatment, script, storyboards, and final shooting and editing. During pre-production participants learn how to work in a group to plan for and realize a short film from concept to shooting script. During production they work together to coordinate and shoot their script. And finally in post-production they edit and polish their projects. The instructor provides guidance throughout the process, emphasizing the students’ responsibility for carrying the project from inception to completion.

The emphasis throughout the three weeks is on collaborative teamwork. Over the course of the various exercises, each student takes on a number of different roles within the production teams (director, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, sound). For the final projects, only a handful of proposals are selected for production, so not every participant directs or writes his or her own film, though everyone plays a crucial role in the production.

On the last day of the program, students screen their completed films at a film festival attended by friends, family members, and other program participants. The completed films can potentially be used for submission to short film festivals and as portfolio pieces for film or art school applications.

Students should plan to be available to work on their final films on the weekend preceding the final week of the program. Laptops are recommended but not required for this class. Cameras and other film production equipment are provided.


Yudho Aditya

Yudho Aditya is a recent graduate of the Directing/Screenwriting MFA program at Columbia University's School of the Arts. He received his B.A. in film studies and worked as an assistant editor in Los Angeles. His short film Pria has screened in over 130 domestic and international film festivals including the Los Angeles Film Festival, the BFI London Film Festival, Palm Springs International Shortfest, and Tokyo's Short Shorts. Yudho is the recipient of the 2016 Director’s Guild of America Best Asian American Student Filmmaker Award and the 2016 National Board of Review Student Grant. His other shorts include Pipe Dream, which is being developed into a web series by Warner Brothers Television, and the viral hit Midnights with Adam. He just wrapped directing a pilot for the TV series Inpatient, which is set to premiere in 2019. 

Johnson Cheng

Johnson Cheng is an award-winning Chinese-American writer/director based in New York City. After receiving his B.A. in international relations, he joined Columbia University's M.F.A. Film Directing/Screenwriting program. He is a recipient of the Armed with a Camera Fellowship and is an alumnus of the Reykjavík Transatlantic Talent Lab, Telluride Student Symposium, and the Emerging Filmmakers Lab presented by the Smithsonian Institute and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His most recent film, Iron Hands (铁手), had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, was selected for the Golden Egg competition at the Reykjavík International Film Festival, and won Best Student Live Action Short at the Palm Springs International ShortFest. Johnson began his career as an intern at PIXAR, and is credited on feature films such as Monsters University and Coco. He has worked as a story editor on The Book of Mojo, assistant editor on Reel FX's The Book of Life, and assistant editor on DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda 3, the first animated co-production between the U.S. and China. He is a member of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective Writers Workshop and the Motion Picture Editors Guild.

Mark Christopher

Mark Christopher works as a writer/director in Los Angeles, New York, and Europe and teaches directing and writing at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. His current projects in pre-production are Sara, a Czech/German thriller set in Berlin, and the stage musical, Mid-Century Moderns, set in 1966 Palm Springs. He has TV pilots with Warner Brothers and Miramax as well as a three-script deal with Avenue Pictures. He has written one-hour pilots for CBS, Fox, and Logo/MTV, and was the creator/executive producer of Real Life: The Musical on the Oprah Winfrey Network. His feature, 54: The Director’s Cut, premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival to excellent reviews worldwide. Set at New York's Studio 54, the film stars Ryan Phillippe, Mike Myers, Salma Hayek, and Mark Ruffalo. It has been honored in the Gala Event, Opening Night, or Closing Night film at international film festivals in San Francisco, Turin, Guadalajara, Sydney, Zurich, Tel Aviv, Seattle, Prague, and at Lincoln Center. Christopher's festival comedy hit Pizza won an Independent Spirit Award. His award-winning short films have screened at the Museum of Modern Art and numerous international film festivals, including the Berlinale, where his film Alkali, Iowa won the Teddy Award. His work has been reviewed and he has been profiled in The New York Times, The Guardian, Variety, The Wall Street Journal, Art Forum, and Vanity Fair. Christopher holds an M.F.A. from Columbia University.

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Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.