“The Film Academy Vienna sees itself as a place of action”
Industry Report: European Film Schools
Danny Krausz and Oliver Kunz • Heads, Film Academy Vienna
Our conversation revolved around the main opportunities offered to prospective students by the prestigious Austrian film school
Cineuropa spoke to Danny Krausz and Oliver Kunz, heads of the Film Academy Vienna. The Austrian institution is part of both GEECT (European Grouping of Film and Television Schools) and CILECT (International Association of Film and Television Schools).
Cineuropa: What is your academy’s main teaching mission? What are the main benefits of attending it for prospective international students?
Danny Krausz: The Film Academy Vienna is one of the leading and most innovative training institutions in Europe and one of the most successful internationally due to its multiple award-winning teachers, students and graduates. A large number of awards and festival successes, right up to the Oscar nomination for the graduation film Alles wird gut by director Patrick Vollrath and DoP Sebastian Thaler, are the result of a well-balanced training in both the artistic and the practical fields. The Film Academy Vienna sees itself as a place of action. The extensive technical resources — camera and lighting equipment, editing, VFX and animation facilities as well as its own studio and cinema — offer students and teachers an ideal environment for teaching as well as for practical work and experiments away from the constraints of commercial filmmaking.
With the general basic training in the first three semesters, the academy offers students — before they specialise in the areas of screenwriting, direction, camera, editing or production — a comprehensive basis for understanding the processes of filmmaking.
A significant advantage of our academy is that it is embedded in a number of other institutes of the mdw - University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. Thus, synergies between acting, music and composition can be used as well, such as the proximity with the Elak - Institute for Composition, Electroacoustics and the sound engineer training offered at our common facility, the Future Art Lab at Anton-von-Webern-Platz.
What type of study programmes do you offer? What are the main subjects?
Oliver Kunz: The Film Academy Vienna offers bachelor and master’s degrees in the fields of screenwriting, directing, camera, editing and production, a master’s degree in digital art and compositing, as well as a doctoral degree in film and media studies. In addition to the main subject, the bachelor’s degree can be expanded to include modules with other focal points. In our master’s degrees, additional internships can be taken in other fields of study. Starting from the general basic training in the first three semesters, the students later acquire a comprehensive understanding of all areas of filmmaking.
Do you provide any scholarships?
OK: The mdw applied successfully to participate in the EU’s Erasmus+ programme generations 2014-2020 and 2021-2027. In these applications, among other things, Erasmus+ Policy Statements were drawn up. As mdw’s applications were evaluated positively by the European Commission, our University was awarded with the ECHE - Erasmus Charters for Higher Education for the entire duration of the first and the second Erasmus+ programme generations (find out more here).
How should a student prepare for the admission?
DK: Approximately 300 people from various countries are currently applying for about 20 study places per year of the bachelor’s degree at the Film Academy Vienna. The application process and the entrance examination are multi-staged. In addition to basic talent and a high level of interest in the subject of film, a certain amount of practical professional experience is advantageous. Sufficient knowledge of German is another basic requirement for admission. Work samples must be submitted for admission to the bachelor’s and master’s degree. Moreover, in order to apply for a master’s degree, proof of having completed a corresponding bachelor’s degree or equivalent training must be provided.
How are you adapting your teaching owing to the current circumstances?
DK: Even if the Film Academy Vienna had to shift its theoretical lessons to distance learning, the practical exercises and the shooting of student films could be resumed relatively quickly under the currently applicable security requirements. In this context, the Film Academy Vienna borrowed from the measures customary in the film industry. Due to the extensive commitment of the teachers, most of the courses that could not be carried out could be made up for during the non-teaching period. Larger film projects by the students were repeatedly affected by postponements due to the uncertain situation, but are now being realised in the course of the momentary relaxation.
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