In the field of screenwriting, the ifs offers both the specialization »Screenwriting« in the Bachelor’s program Film and the »Master’s program Serial Storytelling«. In addition, within the framework of our further education camps there are regular workshops on selected topics for screenwriters.
Specialization in »Screenwriting« in BA Film
It all starts with a blinking cursor and a vision: a screenplay is the dream of a film.
But what makes a good screenplay and why is it indispensable in filmmaking? What are the stories that can, want, need to be told? In the balancing act between unbiased curiosity, meticulous research, and careful tact, good screenwriters can succeed in finding stories and turning them into visually vivid screenplays written in an expressive and articulate language.
In the Specialization in Screenwriting, young writers learn more than how to tell good stories using pictures, developing credible characters and writing convincing dialogues. Teamwork is considered equally important, as well as a solid basic understanding of all aspects of filmmaking – including the demands of the market. The focus, however, is always on the individual style of the author – and on the story. Because regardless of whether or not the screenplay includes dialogue, or whether it’s fully developed or a rough draft: without a screenplay, there is no film.
Next application phase: from winter 2019/2020
Next start of studies: summer semester 2021
The 7-semester Bachelor’s program is modular and consists of:
- Specialization modules that convey the artistic and technical expertise for the aspired occupation.
- Project modules, in which students, both independently and through interdisciplinary collaboration, complete projects from the idea to the finished screenplay or film.
- Comparative Media Studies modules and personal skills seminars that transfer film and media theory knowledge as well as social and interpersonal skills
What story do you tell? And how and why do you tell it? Screenwriting students must possess a strong visual imagination, great curiosity, and a passion for people. Writing screenplays demands a conscious and sharp reflection on the world. It also requires an acute awareness of how stories and films not only depict the world, but also influence it–and sometimes even transform it.
During their studies, screenwriting students not only write scripts, they also gain deep insight into the various other crafts involved in making a film. They write literary and non-fictional texts, short film screenplays, serial formats, and material for fiction feature films. Students deepen their character development skills through scene work with actors, improvisation exercises, script constellations, and seminars on various narrative models. They also experiment with new narrative forms and interactive and trans-media storytelling.
Filmmaking is teamwork, and script writing is a collaborative process that involves producers, commissioning editors, and directors, among many others. Several meetings and gatherings with other filmmakers and professionals in the film industry during their studies will help them make their first steps in their professional life. Students also benefit from seminars on pitching and personal coaching, designed to prepare them for both their work as screenwriters and for the film market.
Scriptwriting distinguishes itself from all other film professions in many ways, but most of all in the solitary life of the writer. Because even when you develop a story together with co-authors, you must always write the first line alone. As a writer, you start with nothing. The director, the actors, the director of photography, the production designer – all of them have a script to work with that guides them. In fact, it’s this ability to formulate on a white, blank sheet of paper a first idea, draft, or exposé that essentially differentiates a writer from a non-writer. Screenwriting students will also be encouraged to reflect on these questions: Where do ideas come from? And how can I inspire others with my ideas and still remain open for my colleagues’ suggestions and the requirements of the film industry?
Comparative Media Studies
Comparative Media Studies explore the film medium’s relationships to other media and their presentation and narrative forms, and particularly to the competing audiovisual media of theater, television and digital games as well as to the fine arts, photography, literature and music. In both the theoretical reflections and the practical exercises, specific attention is given to the aesthetic and cultural consequences of digitization for production, distribution and reception of audiovisual, cross-media and trans-media content.
Film History and Film Analysis
This subject area explores the different dimensions and elements that touch, cross and merge paths in film: space and time, perspective and montage, picture and sound, light and color, on and off-screen, and the perspectives of the characters, the camera and the audience. The focus is on investigating the media conditions for cinematic aesthetics as well as reflecting on their historical transformation.
A significant part of the studies and the learning takes place in the project work, which is defined by an intensive and close collaboration between the 7 specializations. Each semester includes a project phase, during which students experiment, practice and produce work. The requirements vary as there are both fiction and non-fiction film projects. The project work consists of both independent components as well as interdisciplinary teamwork with other students and cooperation partners. The complexity of the project work increases during the course of the studies up to the final graduation films. The professor committee decides on the production of each of the projects. Students also have the opportunity to work on independent projects alongside their studies with the support of the ifs.
Personal Skills and Professional Career Orientation
All the semesters include modules for personal skills training and professional career orientation. Coaching sessions and teacher feedback on various studies and team processes promote personal and professional development. Students are encouraged to reflect on their own artistic work from an interdisciplinary perspective, in the context of other works of art, and as part of the social discourse. Students receive targeted support to develop and cultivate their own artistic personality, as well as their social and communication skills (negotiation skills, self-reflection, team cooperation, conflict strategies). Case studies exploring the various job profiles (national/international) and knowledge of the requirements of a business startup serve as guidance on future careers and professional opportunities. Visits to festivals and conferences promote the development of industry networks.
Bachelor Project and Thesis
Students prepare their Bachelor graduation project and thesis at the end of their studies, which is supplemented by an oral examination also known as a colloquium. For the Screenwriting specialization, the BA graduation project consists of writing an original screenplay for a feature-length film. The BA graduation project for the specializations in Film Directing, Creative Producing, Director of Photography, Editing Picture & Sound, VFX & Animation, and Production Design consist of a production project and a written thesis. The colloquiums will bring together the different parts of the BA project in a technical discussion and explore individual aspects in depth.
Fields of Study
The following fields of study at the ifs are represented by professors:
- Screenwriting and Dramaturgy
- Directing – For fiction narratives in audiovisual media
- Directing – For documentary narratives in audiovisual media
- Creative Producing
- Camera – Feature Film
- Camera – Documentary Film
- Editing Picture & Sound
- VFX & Animation
- Production Design
- Comparative Media Studies
- Film History and Film Analysis
- Serial Storytelling (MA)
- Digital Narratives (MA)
Our professors are experienced academics and professionals who, alongside their teaching responsibilities, also produce screenplays, documentaries and feature films as well as conduct research work. A wide range of lecturers from both the German and international film industries further supports the main academic teaching staff. An active involvement in the film industry and a professional participation in film and applied media discourses are requirements for a teaching position at the ifs.
Every module is completed with an examination, and is graded. The examinations can take the form of assignments, papers, work samples, written tests, presentations or oral exams.
After successfully completing the Bachelor Examination, students are awarded the »Bachelor of Arts« (B.A.) academic degree.
The study workload is assessed using a credit point system, according to the principles of the European Credit Transfer System. 30 credits are awarded per semester. In the standard 7-semester period of study, 210 credit points are required to achieve the »Bachelor of Arts« degree. The BA Film program is a fulltime study program. Courses usually require 80 percent compulsory attendance.
The Bachelor’s program Film offers the following specializations:
Screenwriting, Film Directing, Creative Producing, Director of Photography, Editing Picture & Sound, VFX & Animation, or Production Design.
full time / every two years
Bachelor of Arts
Number of Participants:
Fees & Financing
Tuition fees per semester:
One-time registration fee:
Contribution to the »Friends of the ifs Society« per semester:
For financial assistance to cover tuition fees and/or living expenses, second-year students may apply for an interest-free loan from the Student Education Fund, which is run by the »The Friends of the ifs Society«. Approval of the interest-free loans is based on the applicant’s financial situation and the funds available. Repayment of the loan begins six months after graduation/termination of studies.
In addition, from the second academic year until the end of the Bachelor’s program, the »The Friends of the ifs internationale filmschule köln Society« currently awards five scholarships for outstanding academic achievements to students of the Bachelor’s programs. These scholarships include the payment of tuition fees and a monthly allowance towards the cost of living until the end of the Bachelor’s program (up to 15,000 euros).
Students in the Bachelor’s program Film are generally eligible for “Bafög”, the Federal Student Financial Aid Program. The responsible Federal Student Financial Aid Office decides upon applications for student state loans or grants. A prerequisite for the application is the enrollment at the University of Applied Sciences Cologne), the ifs cooperation partner (tuition fee for the Summer Semester 2019: 270.50 euros). This grant includes all the services of the University of Applied Sciences Cologne as well as the semester ticket. Both German and foreign students are eligible applicants. Foreign students must observe Bafög § 8.
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