Each year of study is organised by a head of year responsible for planning, organising and implementing the programmes and ensuring students receive the supervision and follow-up they require, assisted by the heads of department and working under the director of programmes and their assistant.
Training is spread over four school years of 10 months each:
- 3 years of study consisting of tutoring (departmental and inter-departmental) and filmmaking practice (at least one major exercise a year).
- 1 year producing a completed work and one personal research project to be presented before a graduation jury.
All teaching is complemented through the year by regular sessions entitled Knowledge/Culture/Creation consisting of talks, film analysis, guest filmmakers, cross-departmental seminars on specific themes and more.
First year: common core syllabus and start of departmental training
This foundation year is taken by every student, regardless of their chosen specialisation, as part of a common core syllabus and starts with a first series of classes by department.
The programme includes an introduction to the different crafts the School prepares students in, an introduction to working with actors, a first approach to writing a screenplay, the practical aspects of filming, cinematography and editing, film analysis, screenings and talks with filmmakers and other industry professionals and conferences.
- Portrait/Self-portrait (storyboarding and editing)
- Introduction to Screenwriting
- Directing Actors Workshop (exercise with acting students from the CNSAD (National Academy of the Dramatic Arts).
First-year films (40 films)
Each student is required to write and direct one film and carry out each technical role in the production process.
4 to 10 weeks of department-specific training
The first year ends with students making six shorts or filmed sequences shot in the studio in HD; each student works in their chosen specialisation.
Second year: Departmental Training
In partnership with the CFA in Asnières, six films are produced, directed by the six directing students with the support of each other department plus two filmmaking students invited from Columbia as part of the exchange programme in place with this American university.
Second-year films - Documentaries
This “approach to the documentary form” period is followed by the writing and producing of six films directed by the six directing students with the support of each other department plus two filmmaking students from CalArts as part of the exchange programme in place with this American university.
Specific training by department
At the end of the year, the directing students start to write their third-year film, which will be made in the autumn term.
Third year: Departmental Training
The major workshop of the year, this is led by a different guest director each year who brings his or her own ’colour’ and ’approach’. Each student carries out his or her chosen specialisation and collaborates on one of the six films produced in digital (plus one film is produced by a crew of students from the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in Ludwigsburg as part of the exchange programme in place with this German film school). The period from September to March is dedicated to pre-production, shooting and post-production.
Specific training by department
The students in the Editing Department carry out a Special Effects exercise over several weeks at the start of the year before moving over to editing the films made by their classmates.
From the spring term, each student is required to take an internship. The purpose of these work placements is to put the students in a professional environment related to the discipline they chose and want to pursue a career in so they can acquire the indispensable practical experience they need.
What’s more, this is an ideal opportunity to put into practice the skills acquired working in a professional team outside La Fémis.
The internships are managed by the External Relations Department, which is in charge of finding and placing students in internships and acts as the intermediary between the industry professionals and companies and the heads of department and students.
Fourth year: Final projects and personal research projects
Students are asked to devise and produce a final project that takes a different form depending on their chosen specialisation, accompanied by a written research paper (dissertation):
- Screenwriting: write a screenplay for a full-length film,
- Directing: write and direct a short film and write a screenplay for a full-length film,
- Producing: produce a film for one of the six directing students and produce another film of your choice, regardless of the original department of the director, and write a research paper,
- Cinematography: act as director of photography on an end-of-programme directing project and experiment through cinematography the subject explored in the dissertation,
- Sound Production: provide the sound for a directing final project and experiment through audio the subject explored in the research paper,
- Editing: provide the editing of a directing final project and produce a film from excerpts of existing films,
- Production Design: explore the subject raised in the dissertation with a design project.
Each student participates, in their chosen craft, in one of the films made by the directing students.
What’s more, each student is free to work on productions of one or more films made by other students in their year.
The degrees are awarded by specially-formed judging panels based on the work presented, the relevance and standard of the research projects (dissertations) and the student’s overall performance throughout the four-year programme.
Between the second and fourth years, students get the chance to study at a film school in another country. To date, 10 exchange agreements have been established, all departments combined: Editing (with the ECAL in Lausanne), Screenwriting (with Columbia University in New York), Directing (with the FUC in Buenos Aires and CalArts in LA), Producing (with Tokyo University of the Arts - Geidai in Tokyo-Yokohama and the KAFA), Continuity (with the INSAS in Brussels), Cinematography (with the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in Ludwigsburg), Sound Production (with the VGIK in Moscow), Production Design (with the FTII in Pune) and Distribution/Cinema Management (with the HFF in Munich).