BFA | 4-year program

FAV majors work in live action, animation or a hybrid of the two, and have the option of producing films in a wide variety of genres (such as documentary, experimental, narrative) and for diverse outlets (including installations and interactive media). Students regularly analyze and solve technical and aesthetic problems, and benefit from exposure to critical review, film festivals and visiting artists and specialists.

Learning outcomes

The program cultivates creative thinking, along with social and cultural awareness. Graduates are prepared to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the plasticity of time through techniques such as manipulating sound and visual rhythm to alter the feeling of time passing and convey narrative structure
  • articulate their roles and responsibilities as mediators of information
  • exhibit competence in at least one of the three forms of live action film, animation or open media
  • design and implement individualized creative processes to plan, organize and execute complex projects
  • recognize and assess their assumptions, and the implications and practical consequences of those assumptions
  • understand experimentation as a form of research
  • recognize, develop and refine narratives
  • raise and clearly formulate vital questions and problems
  • communicate effectively and work with others to find solutions to complex problems


Inspiring community

An in-demand department, FAV is home to approximately 145 undergraduate majors, with students from other disciplines often taking selected classes and offering different perspectives from the vantage point of their major disciplines. Juniors and seniors get the opportunity to screen finished films to a wider audience via popular spring film festivals open to the public. FAV faculty members offer a wide range of expertise in various areas and work closely with students to help them develop as strong, well-informed artists with the conceptual and aesthetic vision to reach well beyond a technical facility with film production.

Learning environment

RISD's FAV facilities offer production studios for film, video, 16mm, 35mm and puppet animation; digital editing and sound mixing rooms; and CGI and Macintosh workstations with a full range of professional production and editing software. But unlike many other schools, RISD goes beyond teaching students how to use the latest technology. Instead, the idea is to master the use of tools by focusing on concepts, critical thinking and content development.

Curriculum

Sophomores are introduced to the major through a series of short assignments designed to provide a basic technical foundation in film, video, animation and digital media. Skills are further developed the following year as juniors choose to specialize in live action, animation or open media while tackling more ambitious projects involving cinematography, lighting, sound design, character design, digital editing, compositing, producing, storyboarding and interactive programming.

Foundation-year

Fall
Drawing I
Design I
Spatial Dynamics I
First-year Literature Seminar
Theory & History of Art & Design I
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
Drawing II
Design II
Spatial Dynamics II
Topics in History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences
Theory & History of Art & Design II

Sophomore

Fall
Intro to Cinema Production or Intro Electronic Moving Images or Animation elective or Digital Foundation
Studio elective
Time, Light and Sound
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
Intro to Cinema Production or Intro Electronic Moving Images or Animation elective or Digital Foundation
Studio elective
Liberal Arts electives

Junior

Fall
Studio elective
Liberal Arts electives
Intermediate Studio: Live Action or Animation or Open Media
Junior elective: Live Action or Animation or Open Media
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
Studio elective
Liberal Arts elective
Intermediate Studio: Live Action or Animation or Open Media
F/A/V studio elective

Senior

Fall
Senior Studio
Studio elective
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Senior Studio
Spring
Senior Studio
Studio elective
Liberal Arts elective

Degree project

In working on individual degree projects guided by faculty mentors, seniors need to meet the formidable challenge of conceiving of and producing a final live action or animated film. All films are screened at a public film festival held in May – and many go on to become award-winners in national and international festivals, helping students to establish their names after graduation.

Application requirements

  1. Common Application

    You’ll begin and manage your RISD application process by completing the Common Application. There is a non-refundable application fee of $60 to use this service; eligible students may apply for a fee waiver.

  2. Academic transcripts

    Applicants must provide official transcripts of all secondary academic work through the most recent grading period. Your counselor may submit your transcript through the Common Application, Parchment, email or mail. If your academic credentials are not written in English, they must be translated into English by an approved translator prior to submission.

  3. Tests

    SAT or ACT

    All applicants are required to submit the results of the SAT or the ACT (American College Testing program). RISD will superscore your results. Subject tests are not required.

    RISD’s institution code number for the SAT is 3726; for ACT the code number is 003812.

    TOEFL or IELTS

    All applicants who speak English as a second language, including US citizens, must submit results from either TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Since proficiency in English is a prerequisite for acceptance, applicants must attain an acceptable score on either test; RISD requires a minimum result of 93 on the TOEFL or 6.5 on IELTS. Plan to take the TOEFL or IELTS well in advance of the application deadline since it may take six weeks for your scores to be sent to RISD.

    RISD’s institution code number is 3726.

  4. Portfolio

    You will upload your portfolio in SlideRoom through the Common Application.

    Your portfolio should present 12–20 examples of your most recent work that showcases your thinking and making. The work should reflect a full range of your ideas, interests, experiences and abilities in the arts. This can include work in any medium, in finished or sketch form, and can be the result of an assigned project or a self-directed exploration.

    We recommend that you include some developmental research and/or preparatory work for one of your submissions. It is helpful to show your process of thinking and investigation so we can see how you develop your ideas. A sketchbook or journal page may be an appropriate way to share your process. Consider also including the finished piece and preparatory work(s) in a single image. There is an area in SlideRoom where you can include brief text descriptions for your submissions.

    We strongly discourage the submission of works in PDF format that include multiple pages, especially when there are numerous elements on a single page. These are difficult for reviewers to view and assess and are likely to exceed the allowed limit of 20 work examples.

  5. The Assignment

    Choose one of the following three prompt options and create two responses using any medium (no restrictions).

    • error
    • verify
    • forge

    Each of these prompts has more than one meaning or usage. You might want to begin by referring to dictionary sources to expand your initial reaction and inform your direction. We consider this assignment to be as much about process as presentation. We encourage you to consider your submissions as exercises in experimental thinking and risk-taking more than final presentations or examples of technical proficiency. No mode of expression is valued more than another, so feel free to explore the full range of possibilities.

    Upload your responses in the specific section of SlideRoom dedicated to these works. Do not include them in the Portfolio area of SlideRoom.

    If the file size of either response exceeds 10MB, embed a link to direct us to another viewing platform such as a personal website, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.

    Along with these works, reflect on the two responses you are sharing and provide a brief, written response to this question: What are the other directions or ideas you would explore as a next step?

  6. Writing sample

    Submit one example of your writing, up to 650 words. Remember, this is the limit, not a goal. Use the full limit if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so.

    You will find the writing prompts in the Personal Essay section of the Common Application.

    While we encourage you to adhere to the rules of good writing, we look for applicants who are not afraid to take risks in their expression. Please don't hesitate to use a writing style or method that may be outside the mainstream as you express a distinctive personal position in the samples you submit.

  7. Letter(s) of recommendation

    Although not required, these letters can be very helpful to your application. One letter is suggested, although as many as three may be submitted. Recommendation letters should be written by teachers or other professionals who have firsthand knowledge of your art or academic achievements and can comment on your potential as a student.

    Please use the Common Application to invite your recommendation writers to submit letters through that service. Letters may also be sent directly to our mailing address (see below) or emailed to admissions@risd.edu.

Departments

Apparel Design Architecture Ceramics Digital + Media Experimental and Foundation Studies Film / Animation / Video Furniture Design Glass Graduate Studies Graphic Design History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences Illustration Industrial Design Interior Architecture Jewelry + Metalsmithing Landscape Architecture Literary Arts + Studies Painting Photography Printmaking Sculpture Teaching + Learning in Art + Design Textiles Theory + History of Art + Design