ifs internationale filmschule köln
Presentation & Philosophy: The ifs internationale filmschule köln is a recognized full study and further education institution serving aspiring media professionals. The school is an initiative of the NRW state government and the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW and was founded in 2000 as a non-profit company, the Film- und Medienstiftung being the sole principal partner of the ifs in the meantime.
In cooperation with the Cologne University of Applied Sciences, the ifs offers the bachelor program FILM with a total of six majors (Screenwriting, Directing, Creative Producing, Director of Photography, Editing Picture & Sound and Digital Film Arts), providing a hands-on artistic education under one roof. Furthermore the ifs offers an international M.A. in Serial Storytelling, and is currently developing several new master’s programs. In addition, ten further education programs in a wide variety of disciplines provide training to young audiovisual media professionals supporting them to meet the constantly growing demands of the industry both nationally and internationally.
Individual and intensive supervision is the core focus of the study and further education programs at the ifs. The education and training is focused on combining a foundation of scientific-theoretical and technical skills with artistic hands-on project work. The combination of professional specialization and interdisciplinary cooperation is characteristic for the education at the ifs. Close collaboration with national and international teachers from both the industry and academia guarantees the students a first-class education, comparable to international standards.
The ifs offers its students an innovative media education that imparts the artistic and technical skills and foundation for professional filmmaking and thereby integrating new technological developments as well as promoting and conveying aesthetic and dramaturgical potential.
The school is a member of CILECT, the International Association of Film and Television Schools, and cultivates partnerships with a global network of film schools and universities.
Number of students/ full-time/ part-time workshops: The ifs admits students to all of the BA and MA Study Programmes every two years; Number of students: ca. 90; Number of participants in further education programmes: ca. 120
Number of students in film/animation studies: ca. 90
Number of international students: ca. 20
Number of teachers: 14 professors, ca. 150 lecturers
Degree category / length of studies:
Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts:
B.A. Film (Specializations in Screenwriting, Directing, Creative Producing, Director of Photography, Editing Picture & Sound and Digital Film Arts): 7 semesters
M.A. Serial Storytelling: 4 semesters
Programme objective and content:
B.A. Film (Screenwriting, Directing, Creative Producing, Director of Photography, Editing Picture & Sound and Digital Film Arts):
Through its joint study structure for future screenwriters, directors, producers, cinematographers, editors and digial film artists, the Film Studies Program with a specialization in Screenwriting, Directing, Creative Producing, Director of Photography, Editing Picture & Sound, Digital Film Arts, provides a job-oriented specialization as well as promoting a common understanding of narrative material, dramaturgy, artistic expression, and production strategies.
- Specialisation in Screenwriting: In their first year, screenwriting students write an approximately 30-minute dramatic script and then in a team develop their first short film in collaboration with the other departments. They also experiment at writing literary and non-fictional forms. In their second year, students deepen their character development skills through scene work with actors, improvisation exercises, and script constellations. At the same time, students begin to write their first feature-length screenplay. Alongside seminars on narrative models and popular genres, as well as new narrative forms and interactive and trans-media storytelling, students also pursue their artistic research projects in the »Lab Phase«. The main focus in the fourth semester is the production of the second short film. In collaboration with the students of all the other Bachelor specializations, the screenwriting students are involved in the development of the script and its adaptation into film. In the third year, students focus entirely on developing their own feature film material up to the exposé, as well as on writing their 90-minute graduation screenplays. In addition, screenwriting students prepare for stepping into their professional life through seminars on pitching presentations and personal coaching as well as through meetings with editors and producers.
- Specialisation in Directing: At its deepest core, directing is based on trust: trust in the material, trust in your partners, trust in your team, the actors, the protagonists. That’s why the first four semesters are all about learning how to generate this kind of trust, both in yourself and in those around you. Directing is applied ethics and at the ifs it is regarded as an ongoing exercise. This exercise is about dealing with people and with yourself. It’s about observing, listening, speaking and deciding. And most of all it’s about asking the right questions, questions posed both inwardly and outwardly. And about admitting how insecure you really are and realizing how little you know. The subsequent last three semesters are about acquiring the ability to use this realization to serve yourself and your respective counterparts. The focus of the program is to develop a growing understanding for the art of editing and the art of acting, and to gain through this the knowledge of what gives film its rhythm and its form, namely the movements of the camera. Film, as a compressed form of time, is the art of knowing that everything has its own time. The director carries the responsibility for this process.
- Specialisation in Creative Producing: The first year centers on transferring narrative and storytelling skills to all the students in all the specializations. Students learn to access and develop material suitable for narrative adaptation. Creative Producing students then begin their specialization with introductions to film production and film rights. In their second year, they deepen their specialization by focusing on the development of the producer’s creative skills as well as on the market for audiovisual work and project management. In project work, the students work increasingly independently in specialization-specific roles with the other
departments and programs. In their final one and a half years, the students focus on their creative producer responsibilities as project developers and entrepreneurs, and at the same time produce their final graduation films. A presentation of their final graduation films marks the end of the program, whereby the students present their work to a wide circle of industry representatives.
- Specialisation in Director of Photography: Students learn the basic design, craft and organization skills required in the cinematography of feature and documentary film. The program also teaches the students how to become storytellers, who through the creative collaboration with the students of the other specializations, will complete several projects and explore new formats in the course of their studies. In addition to the technical skills, students will also acquire narrative, creative and production skills, which they will steadily be able to apply in full responsibility during the program. In addition to the required technical basics, the specialization also convey the essential visual design foundation that the students gradually build on in the course of their studies, among other things with a special focus on narrative and light design. Seminars specifically targeting the work with the other specializations convey right from the start the collaborative work of creative filmmaking – a knowledge that will be deepened and expanded in the context of the diverse joint projects. In the process, cinematography students will develop their own visual signature style and become self-confident creative partners for both directors and producers.
- Specialisation in Editing Picture and Sound: Students are introduced to the craft of the editor, which they apply in several editing exercises throughout the entire program. In the team projects, the students are responsible for the picture and sound design in the editing room. The program serves as a training ground. The editors experiment with the varied factors of this creative responsibility and can try many things out. This gives them the opportunity to continually put their technical skills to the test and thereby gradually develop their own style. In the first year, students learn the basics of editing picture and sound as well as recording methods and techniques. This knowledge builds the foundation for the subsequent two and a half years, where the main focus is on picture and sound design.
- Specialisation in Digital Film Arts: Students first learn the technical and narrative basics of film production and apply them in projects together with students of the other specializations. In their first year of study, they learn the basic skills of editing together with the editors. In the second year, the focus shifts to the techniques of modern filmmaking, such as keying, rotoscoping, compositing and animation. Supported by state-of-the-art hardware and software and through several exercises, seminars and projects, students will increasingly get the opportunity to follow their own interests, specialize, and gradually develop their own style. Visual effects are not an end in themselves, but tools to expand the expression range and possibilities of creative film design. »Storytelling« – telling stories with cinematic means – is also the focus of Digital Film Arts.
- M.A. Serial Storytelling:
The program is the only graduate degree program of its kind. Focusing on both local and international series markets, this intensive two-year degree program combines story development skills with collaboration techniques and the innovative approach of artistic research. This program is ideal for young professionals who aspire to develop series projects in a variety of forms and platforms. It is the new vision of young professionals like our students that is driving revolutionary change in the industry today. In a curriculum equally balanced in theory and practice, a selected group of max. 16 international students explore current and future ways of serial storytelling. Over the course of two years, case studies and seminars will take place in English, but for elaborate writing projects students may apply for one of two tracks (with approx. 8 students each): either to write in English for international audiences (international track), or in German with a focus on German-language series markets (German track).
- General college or university qualifications.
- In the case college or university qualifications are not available and the applicant displays strong artistic aptitude, the required general qualifications will be determined in a separate procedure.
- Very good knowledge of German: At the time of application, prospective foreign students must demonstrate at least a B2 language level. Once accepted to the program, students must successfully complete the DSH-II exam (German language proficiency test for university admission).
- Good English language skills.
- Entrance Examination
- Only for the Specialization in Director of Photography:
In addition, relevant internships of a maximum of 6 months are a requirement. As part of your internship experience, a minimum 4-week internship on set is desirable, preferably in the cinematography, lighting, or grip department. Proof of completed or ongoing internships must be submitted with the application. Possible organizations offering internships can include production companies, film equipment rentals, post-production studios and film laboratories.
M.A. Serial Storytelling:
- To obtain a Master’s degree, applicants must have an undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s degree or an equivalent degree) with a minimum of 180 ECTS credits or a higher degree (e.g. a German »Magister« or »Diplom«) from an accredited university and have worked in the field of media production for at least one year. The ifs welcomes applicants who have received degrees in unrelated fields, providing that they show proof of substantial writing experience.
In addition, applicants need to provide proof of their English language skills (B2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, e.g. by a TOEFL score of 87 points (internet-based) or equivalent test results.) Native English speakers are exempted from this. In addition, all applicants have to demonstrate the appropriate level of English during the selection process (interviews and writing assignments).
German language skills are only required for students in the »German track«.
- Entrance Examination