FIRST YEAR

Fellows complete the first year with a wealth of production experience, a valuable awareness of the stories they wish to tell and a strong working relationship with a team of filmmakers who shares a common aesthetic and goal.

Screenwriters arrive at the AFI Conservatory with at least two story ideas, which have been submitted and distributed prior to the start of school. During the first week of Boot Camp, screenwriters pitch their ideas to directors and producers, forming teams to develop a script with the guidance of a Development Mentor.

After a period of development, the scripts are pitched to the cinematographers, editors and production designers who then choose a team to join. That team becomes the team for Cycle One. Cycle One begins immediately following Boot Camp. Screenwriters are required to be the sole writers of the first cycle project and may choose to collaborate with directors and producers on subsequent cycle productions as either sole screenwriter, co-screenwriter or story editor. Cycles Two and Three can be written by a Fellow in any discipline. In addition to cycle work, screenwriters will develop and write original feature scripts with support and feedback from their assigned faculty mentor, as well as the core group of Fellows in their own script development workshops.

Cycle One films are shot over a four-day period (Saturday though Tuesday). Post-production takes place over a 10-day period and includes a first cut, which is reviewed during a first year Editing course class called Edit Analysis. The director then has four more days to work with the editor, and in collaboration with the rest of the team, to lock picture. Additional days are provided for color correcting, title work and polishing sound in the Sony Digital Arts Center's Pro Tools suites.

In the second term, Cycle Two and Cycle Three are similarly structured (currently both are three-day shoots). Fellows are not allowed to team with the same collaborators on more than one project (with editors and production designers being the exception to the rule). These projects are never publicly screened, as the workshops are designed to allow the filmmakers to refine their storytelling skills and experiment with different genres, free from public scrutiny.

Highly specialized classes, covering discipline-specific topics, complement the ongoing production curriculum, as do regular screenings and specialized seminars featuring working filmmakers.

During the spring of first year, all Fellows are encouraged to develop scripts for submission as a thesis project for second year. Senior faculty and thesis mentors evaluate these submissions, and decisions on which thesis scripts will go forward are made by the end of the semester. Thesis teams form around the script chosen through this process.

Fellows complete the first year with a wealth of production experience, a valuable awareness of the stories they wish to tell and a strong working relationship with a team of filmmakers who share a common aesthetic and goal.