“It’s essential that education establishes a direct link with the world of work and that we focus on training the professionals demanded by the market”
Industry Report: European Film Schools
Minnie Ferrara • Director, Civica Scuola di Cinema Luchino Visconti
We seized the opportunity to chat with the film school director about the options offered by the prestigious Milanese institution
We met with Minnie Ferrara, the director of Milan’s Civica Scuola di Cinema Luchino Visconti. During our conversation, we discussed the educational programme offered by the school to its students, its main pedagogical objectives and the strong ties forged by the school with the Italian audiovisual industry. The institution forms part of the GEECT (the European Grouping of Film and Television Schools) and the CILECT (the International Association of Film and Television Schools).
Cineuropa: How is the school’s educational programme structured? What is your mission?
Minnie Ferrara: The Civica Scuola di Cinema Luchino Visconti was founded in the early ‘50s and saw an increase in its more structured activities in the 1960s. Since then, it has continued to grow and gain in strength by continually enhancing its educational programme. We now offer a variety of courses. The first is a three-year, daytime course resulting in a diploma which is the equivalent to a degree in Film and Audiovisual Art and Technology. This particular path prepares students for eight different fields. It begins with a first year relevant to all fields, setting out the general, theoretical bases of film and audiovisual production. At the end of this first year, students choose – or are helped to choose – their own particular field. The options are Film Direction, Screenwriting, Production, Animation, Filming and Photography, Editing, Sound and Multimedia. We also offer the traditional evening course. These courses last a year, on average, and cover Screenwriting, Production, Documentary-Making and Social Video Making, alongside the new Film Critic and Programmer course. We also offer a variety of short courses aimed at our graduates - or anyone who is interested in gaining a deeper understanding of a specific field, in the interest of lifelong learning – which are intended to help them specialise in an area and enhance their professional expertise. Our summer schools adopt a similar approach. Lastly, there’s the very new specialised master course organised with the support of Netflix, namely the Master in Series Development, which is angled towards the development and creative production of series. This course is focused on producing new professional figures, namely development executives - referred to by some as line producers or creative producers - who will become the heads of drama or heads of content for the various broadcasters or independent producers in the future. Such a person would have solid editorial skills but would also be able to oversee the development of content from its conception through to its broadcast. At this time of great crisis for our sector, it’s essential that education establishes a direct link with the world of work, and that we focus on training the professionals demanded by the market.
What language are the courses delivered in?
The three-year courses are delivered in Italian, although there are sometimes meetings with international guests which are conducted in English. The master course itself, however, is largely delivered in Italian, though we do have various international lecturers who teach their lessons in English. That’s why we ask for advanced knowledge of the language as an entry requirement.
What does the admission process consist of for students?
First, they sit a written, multiple-choice exam. Once they’ve passed it, they’re invited to attend interviews, which they can bring their material along to. We give a list of reference texts on our website, which we update regularly, and which help students to prepare for the exam. Some texts are general knowledge-focused, others specialise in our sector.
Do you offer any study bursaries?
Yes. There are two forms of support available. Some bursaries, as is the case with all other universities, are funded by the Office for the Right to Higher Education; other forms of support or monetary awards are funded by private donations.
Are internships optional or compulsory?
Before they can graduate, students must earn credits via curricular internships. After their diploma, we support them by way of a series of extra-curricular internships. We’re in touch with various production houses and players within the sector who are always on the lookout for recent graduates to invest in and develop.
What changes have you made to your teaching activities in these times of Covid?
If I had to sum it up in one phrase, I’d say that we’ve jumped through hoops! Covid took us by surprise in the first year, as it did everyone else. But we never stopped our lessons. We managed to cover the theoretical element of the course and carry out practical experiments via distance learning. Then we postponed the end of the academic year; our students graduated in September and, with a huge amount of effort and by working 24/7, we managed to catch up on our workshops. We were more prepared this year and we managed to get organised, planning as many workshops as possible, as soon as the rules allowed it, but also ready and willing to adopt alternative solutions. Now we’re all caught up, we’ve done it!
(Translated from Italian)
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