Film + Media


Cornish's BFA in Film+Media, 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+Media 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.


Year 1: Explore

Your first year is our Foundations program. Here you engage in learning to read visual languages and explore art practices through the intersection of studio, critical & contextual studies, and humanities & sciences. Through Fall and Spring semesters you will spend six modules discovering our resource labs, learning to situate work “within process,” and finding the value in process itself as “the work.” Here you will focus on building technical, practical, rhetorical, and conceptual skills so that you can broaden your experience, challenge yourself, and work outside your comfort zone. This year is a time in which you expand your awareness, develop experiential knowledge, and start to identify where your life’s work.

Year 2: Discover

Discover Your Voice As a sophomore, you will learn to make narrative and non-fiction films, to develop your own voice in collage-like combinations of image and sound (which is to say, in experimental film), and to get acquainted with tools such as DSLR cameras, prime lenses, light (studio and available), sound, editing, and working with actors. You will begin by working solo and go on to work with small crews. At the end of the first semester you will also make a film as a larger ensemble, with students taking roles from producer to director, art director, writer, and editor. By the end of this first full year of filmmaking you will have a good sense of whether you wish to most fully engage, in your final two years, with fiction, non-fiction or experimentation. Each semester in your Sophomore year you will study ideas and history in a Humanities and Science course, and film history in Critical and Contextual Studies: Film Language in the Fall, World Cinema Since 1960 in the Spring. Some of the films you will examine in these classes will change the way you think about motion pictures and what is possible in making and unmaking traditional narratives. You will also study some of the most important, and frequently ravishing, works of art of the 20 th and 21 st centuries.

Year 3: Writing, Directing, Thinking, Understanding

You will come into your junior year with a solid knowledge of, and skill with, the tools along with an awareness that the combinations that can be made of light, photography, and sound are nearly infinite. In this year you will continue to explore these tools as you imagine, write, direct, and edit your own short films and act as principal crew on 4-5 others, contributing cinematography, producing or art direction to the film. Taking courses in Advanced Narrative Film and Advanced Non-Fiction Film, you will add to it a course in an innovative set of classes in arts and humanities that put old and new ways of making, thinking and understanding the world together. This is Creative Corridor. In Critical and Contextual Studies, finally, you will study Major Directors, which is a semester-long course in one or two important directors, and Major Topics and National Cinemas, a rotation of courses that, in a given year, may be Surreal Film, Japanese Cinema, French Cinema, or Global Film Noir. This is normally the year that students choose to study abroad, compete for participation in the New York Studio Residency Program, or take part in the AICAD Mobility Program.

Year 4: The Complex Story

In this final year, students choose one form of filmmaking – fiction, non-fiction, or experimentation – that they will pursue all year, consolidating their technical skills and imaginative practice into a robust portfolio of completed work. This year you will propose, develop, and realize a body of work, and accompany it with critical writing. You will participate in cross-disciplinary critiques and reviews, too. Professional practice will be embedded in your studies and you will apply these skills throughout the year, via networking, commissions, self-promotion and related writing. Your time at Cornish culminates in the BFA exhibition, a widely attended event for the Seattle community. This is both a point of departure and commencement.

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+Media 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 Design Department IT Support Coordinator.

Behind the Scenes

Faculty & Staff




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


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 Monday 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 ...

October 19, 2016

HoloLens Project Highlighted At Seattle Interactive

In 2016, nine student teams at Cornish College of the Arts created pieces for Microsoft’s mixed reality HoloLens headset. Their work was later shown at the Seattle Interactive 2016 conference.

Cornish students and their teachers were asked to present their work with Microsoft's HoloLens at th...

First Slide

September 14, 2016

Cornish Presents 2016/17: Theater, Music, Dance, Performance, and Jazz

While best known for the terrific jazz at PONCHO co-produced with Earshot Jazz, Cornish Presents is a multidisciplinary series of visiting artists, beloved alumni, and distinguished faculty. The 2016/17 season is no exception.

Following last month’s special remount of Raisins  in a Glass of Milk at the Cornish Playhous...

Raisins in a Glass of Milk August 25-27, 8:00 p.m. Begun as a senior thesis project, Ra...

First Slide

September 6, 2016

President Kevorkian Speaks at First Convocation

At the beginning of each academic year, the community of Cornish College of the Arts comes together for Convocation. This year is special, as a new president, Chris Kevorkian, stepped up to the podium.

On Tuesday morning September 6, the students, faculty, and staff of Cornish College of the Arts met...

​I will maintain respect for the dignity and integrity of each person. i will safeguard...

The mission of Cornish College of the Arts is to provide students aspiring to become practicing arti...

First Slide

September 2, 2016

Nathan DiPietro and Clyde Petersen Receive 2016 Neddy Artist Awards

The winners and finalists of the 2016 Neddy Artist Awards will gather on September 15 at Pivot Art + Culture in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. In recognition of the Neddy Artist Awards' 20 years of supporting contemporary artists in the Puget Sound region, works from the 2016 winners and finalists will displayed with a representation of past Neddy Artist Award winners.

The 2016 Neddy Artist Awards go to Nathan DiPietro (painting) and Clyde Petersen (open medium). The...

“Neddy Artist Awards: 20 Years” will run September 15 through October 23 at Pivot Art + Culture...