“The academy does not have any tenure-track teachers, but operates entirely with industry mentors”
Industry Report: European Film Schools
Guido Lukoschek • Head of International Office, Filmakademie Baden Württemberg
Our conversation focused on the main opportunities offered to prospective students by the German film academy
We spoke to Guido Lukoschek, head of International Office at the Filmakademie Baden Württemberg (FABW), to discuss the main learning opportunities it offers to prospective students. The German institution is part of both GEECT (European Grouping of Film and Television Schools) and CILECT (International Association of Film and Television Schools).
Cineuropa: What is your school’s main teaching mission?
Guido Lukoschek: FABW was founded in 1991 with the idea of providing an artistic education at the highest level to prepare students for successful careers in the market. The general approach of the school has always been learning by doing. Today, we have 500 students on 14 courses, who produce up to 300 films per year. For us, hands-on training has always been crucial, along with the idea of providing an environment for students to develop their individual voices as artists. The academy does not have any tenure-track teachers, but operates entirely with industry mentors. Students will be exposed to opportunities to generate extra funding through co-productions with production companies and TV networks, at the same time facing the expectations and restrictions that often go hand in hand with this. We encourage students to form teams early on. Sometimes, we google the names of our alumni, and we see many of these teams operating successfully together, long after they have left the academy.
More recently, diversity has become a focal point for our activities. We understand that the media artists and producers of tomorrow need to come from more diverse backgrounds than before, both nationally and internationally. The mainstream is changing, it is becoming more diverse, and we are in the process of becoming more diverse, too – for all the noble reasons that there are, and also to remain relevant.
What are the main benefits of attending the school for prospective international students?
We believe that internationalisation is key for the media industry. We have to reflect this at all levels of our work, training the next generation of filmmakers in a way that enables them to be competitive on the international stage. At FABW, there are no study fees for EU citizens for their first studies, and only limited fees for those coming from outside the EU, or for graduates from other universities. Today, applicants to the regular study courses still have to prove their German-language skills at B2 level, which prevents many from applying. The big news is that from autumn 2023 onwards, German will no longer be a prerequisite for applicants for the project-based studies. Besides, we already have the Atelier LB-Paris, a one-year, German-French programme for international producers, and the International Class (ICLA), a multi-disciplinary, one-semester course for incoming exchange students. All of these elements enable a multi-dimensional international network, which adds to the professional reach of all our alumni.
What types of study programmes do you offer? What are the main subjects?
FABW is very much structured like a film studio, with all its departments as study courses. The Animation Institute, with its 100 students, is an integral part of the school, which is home to 500 pupils. FABW currently offers 14 courses in all fields of film and media production, including all of the classical departments that there are in filmmaking, such as Directing, Production, Editing, Cinematography and so on. In addition, we have younger disciplines such as Interactive Media, Technical Directing and Character Design, and certain specialisations reflecting the diversified jobs in the industry, such as Line Production, Animation Effects Production and TV Journalism. You can find our full list of programmes here.
Do you provide any scholarships?
There are numerous international exchange bursaries provided by our partners (the Baden-Württemberg Foundation, the Ministry for Science and Culture of Baden-Württemberg, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Goethe-Institut) as well as by private funders that wish to support specific lines of activity, such as AXSOS AG. For regular students, given the absence of substantial fees, the opportunities are rather limited. In their thesis year, up to five students receive a grant from the German Federal Government called the Deutschlandstipendium. Contrary to what the name would suggest, grant holders do not have to be German citizens. For foreign graduate students, DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) grants are also available. Finally, our Production students can apply for the grants made available by the VFF.
How should students prepare for admission?
Applicants will have to prove their overall suitability for university entrance, samples of their artistic work as well as practical experience of between six months and two years, depending on the course chosen. Currently, German-language skills are still mandatory. From autumn 2023 onwards, side entry into the third year of study will be possible with proof of English-language skills.
How are you adapting your teaching and other study activities owing to the pandemic?
The pandemic has sped up trends towards video-based learning. During the lockdown, we shifted most of our activities online, except for practical seminars and film production, which we managed to maintain throughout the pandemic, adapting to the changing health-and-safety and distancing rules. Currently, the number of lectures and seminars held in person is returning to normal again, whereas we will keep holding individual lectures and seminars online. That’s not happening because of the pandemic any more, but rather to reduce our carbon footprint.
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