Cornish's BFA in Film, launched in 2015, recognized the college’s decades-long incorporation of film across the disciplines. The actor Brendan Fraser for example, went on to star in blockbuster films and TV series; Colleen Atwood took her work in painting and made an important career as a costume designer in films from The Silence of the Lambs to Into the Woods.

With this new degree pathway you can pursue all aspects of filmmaking, from narrative film—including fiction and non-fiction—to experimental work. As in any discipline, the majority of your time is spent in making. You will have the opportunity create short films by yourself and to work with a larger crew, and graduate with a portfolio of work that showcases your range of talent.

Courses include narrative production, sound acquisition, editing, writing for the screen, and the first-person essay film. At Cornish, filmmakers collaborate with actors, scenic designers, costume designers, and art directors.

Real-world opportunities are folded into the program, moreover, including embedded internships in Seattle’s creative community and local film festivals, and even journeys abroad, to the South by Southwest Film Festival.

Letter from Chair Lyall Bush

"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: ‘It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to."

- Jim Jarmusch, "Golden Rules",  MovieMaker, 2004

The Film program provides students the opportunity to make work in narrative film (which includes fiction and non-fiction) and experimental work. Using all the tools available to them – cameras, lights, sound recording – and learning the history of film as a language and as a story of visionary innovations, students will learn to write screenplays, storyboard, direct, frame, photograph, edit, and create soundtracks for original films. Each will graduate with a portfolio of work that includes pieces made individually and as part of a crew.

The newest art form depends the most on the histories and practices of many other disciplines. Bend aspects of theater and you arrive at film writing, lighting, blocking and acting; turn music in new directions and you find the route to film scoring; think through the history of light in paintings and you are a cinematographer; through the lens of dance we see how Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, Raoul Coutard, and Greta Gerwig make their moves.


Degree Requirements

Model Programs are updated at the beginning of each academic year. This PDF contains the current year’s model programs for this program. Students should refer to the model program that was in effect for the year and term of their entrance to Cornish. View archived catalogs and model programs.

Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a BFA in Film will have the analytical, narrative, research and communication skills that will allow them to write, produce and direct artistically innovative films, make music videos, edit films with elan, create short commercials and PSAs, develop work for theatrical exhibition, television, new platforms, and, among many other possibilities, program for film series, and new platform programming.

Recognize, and reflect on assumptions about, recording, analysis, thinking, research, process, and self-assessment:

  • Detail the components and composition of work
  • Evaluate the meaning and context of the work
  • Communicate work (and show their process)
  • Demonstrate self-assessment
  • Demonstrate research
Give and receive constructive feedback in response to work:
  • Practice professionalism and respond constructively to peer review and critical feedback during process and critique.
Thinking through making/making through thinking, by exploring methodologies and technical ability:
  • Create work employing various methods and using both digital and analogue media with increased technical ability across 2D, 3D and 4D
Identify and use learning environments, resources and choices with fundamental technical ability:
  • Identify and use resources necessary for individualized learning and practice. Access and use appropriate technical labs safely to create work.
Participate in, and impact, communities of practice
  • Describe, from experience, various practices across interdisciplinary areas.
  • Evaluate their relevance to your individual practice.
Develop confidence and competence in communication:
  • Articulate, verbally and visually, the research, process and content choices that inform the making of your work.



  • Canon 5D Mark III video cameras with associated tripods, monitors. (These are the standard for independent filmmaking.)
  • Go Pro cameras
  • Rokinon Cine Lens kit. High-quality “clickless” lenses prized by filmmakers.
  • Ikan and Tota light kits
  • Zoom H6n and Zoom H4n sound recorders
  • Sennheiser ME6, Rode NTG3 shotguns mics
  • Lavalier mics
  • Indie Dolly system – straight and curved tracks
  • Various tripods, light stands, displays
  • Grip kits, slates, gloves, extension cords, power strips
The department has the following in its equipment library, but students sometimes want to purchase their own. In that case, we recommend:

  • Camera Canon 5D camera, with kit lens 24-105mm
  • Headphones Audio Technica ATH M50 or M50x
  • Sound Recording  Zoom H6 sound recorder Audio-Technica 835b condenser microphone +XLR cable - 10
  • Lights Don’t buy these until you turn pro.


Digital and Analog Equipment Library

The equipment library will provide you with a wide range of digital and analog equipment including still and video cameras, lights, microphones, projectors and digital displays.

Digital Labs

Our digital computer labs will give you access to a range of creative software including Adobe Creative Cloud. In these labs, you will be able to take advantage of increased memory and processing power in order to work on larger and more complex digital projects.

Photomedia Lab

In the Photomedia lab, you can explore black and white analogue photography as well as digital photography. You will be able to work with digital image manipulation and large format printing and can venture into Super 8mm film processing.


Laptop Policy

All incoming students will need to purchase a laptop and software before the start of classes. Provided below is a list of minimum system requirements to run the software that will be taught at Cornish College of the Arts:.

If you have already invested in a different system or have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the Visual Arts IT Coordinator.

Behind the Scenes

Faculty & Staff




  • Eric Holden, Visual Arts IT Coordinator
  • Alistair McMeekin, Resource Lab Manager
  • Thuy-Van Vu


First Slide

September 7, 2017

Convocation Kicks Off the Year at the Playhouse

This year, the annual celebration of the beginning of the academic year at the College moved to the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center and was set to the music of alumna and jazz notable Dawn Clement, class of 2000.

​The students, faculty, and staff of Cornish College of the Arts gathered for the College’s Conv...

First Slide

September 6, 2017

Cornish College Opposes The Ending of DACA

A letter from Interim President Chris Kevorkian on the recent announcement to end the DACA program.

Dear Cornish College Community, Yesterday was the first day of the fall semester at Cornish Colle...

First Slide

June 22, 2017

Film Festival Opportunities Found In LA

After graduating with a BFA in Theater, Kyle McAuley '11 found himself creating short films for a California film festival. This year, he is the committee chair for the “On Location” project of New Filmmakers Los Angeles and hopes to hear from other Cornish transplants.

Moving away from Cornish College of the Arts can be a challenge. The college prides itself on having...

First Slide

May 15, 2017

Commencement 2017 – You Will Climb the Sky

Invoking both Cornish College of the Arts’ storied past and the ever-changing creative landscape of the 21st century, Commencement speaker Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker told 2017 graduates: “You will climb the sky.

The 2017 Commencement took place at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. Friends, families, and gradua...

First Slide

May 10, 2017

Creating Fables With A Baby Grand

Cornish Playhouse resident artists Ruth Marie Tomlinson (faculty), Fritz Rodriguez (alumni), John David Tomlinson, and Tania Kupczak have been deconstructing, cataloguing, rebuilding, and constructing fables of a Sohmer & Co. Baby Grand piano. The deconstruction began in November of 2016 and will culminate over Memorial Day weekend with a closing reception on May 25.

What do you do with a decommissioned piano? At Cornish College of the Arts, you turn it into art. In...

March 1, 2017

Alumni In The News - March

She studied art at Cornish but Colleen Atwood has gone on to become one of Hollywood's best known costume designers, receiving her fourth Oscar in 2017. Several other Cornish artists and designers were in the news in late February and March.

Ria Brodell '02 has a show opening March 3 at Gallery Kayafas in Boston, Ria Bro...

First Slide

February 14, 2017

Historic Seattle Lecture Explores Cornish History

David Martin, the curator of Cascadia Art Museum exhibition on Cornish College of the Arts' history, will lecture on the history of the school on March 6, 7 p.m., at PONCHO. This event is part of the Historic Seattle 2017 educational program for lovers of buildings and heritage.

“Miss Aunt Nellie” as she was affectionately known, was arguably the most important figure in Wa...

First Slide

January 31, 2017

We All Thrive In An Interconnected World

The following was sent on January 31, 2017, by interim President Chris Kevorkian to the Cornish College of the Arts community. In a typical academic year, the college has students from more than a dozen countries on campus. In the last few years, students have come from Bermuda, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, and Thailand, among others.

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Trustees, and other members of our community, I write to you today...

First Slide

January 13, 2017

January 18 Deadline Fast Approaching for Cornish-VCFA Masters Program

The Vermont College of Fine Arts offers both an innovative, accelerated, combined BFA/MAT program with Cornish, as well as their fine standard MAT. Both programs have an application deadline coming up.

One of the landmark events of recent years has been the first involvement in a graduate program by C...

First Slide

January 9, 2017

Alumni in the News - January

Cornish alumni have been busy: producing art, furthering their academic careers, making the world a better place, and winning awards. Find out where a Cornish education has taken them.

Design grad Grace Reyer '16  who also studied film at Cornish, wrote Film+Media Chair ...