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The AFI Conservatory is a private not-for-profit graduate film school in the Hollywood Hills district of Los Angeles. Students (called "Fellows") learn from the masters in a collaborative, hands-on production environment with an emphasis on storytelling. The Conservatory is a program of the American Film Institute founded in 1969.

AFI Conservatory
AFI Conservatory logo.jpg
Type Private not-for-profit school
Established 1969
Affiliation American Film Institute
Dean Richard N. Gladstein
Location Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA
Campus Urban, 8 acres (3.2 ha)



The Center for Advanced Film Studies (later the AFI Conservatory) opened its doors at Greystone Mansion on September 29, 1969. Harold Lloyd screened his film The Freshman and spoke with AFI Fellows on the school's very first day. The first class included Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel and Paul Schrader.

In 2013, Emmy and Oscar-winning director, producer and screenwriter James L. Brooks (As Good as It Gets, Broadcast News, Terms of Endearment) joined the AFI Conservatory as Artistic Director, where he provides leadership for the film program. Brooks' artistic role at the AFI Conservatory has a rich legacy that includes Daniel Petrie, Jr., Robert Wise and Frank Pierson. Award-winning director Bob Mandel served as Dean of the AFI Conservatory for nine years. Jan Schuette took over as Dean in 2014 and served until 2017. Film Producer Richard Gladstein became Dean on July 1, 2017.


The Warner Bros. building on the AFI campus.


In 2011, The Hollywood Reporter ranked it the #1 film school in the world.[1]

It is ranked in the top five graduate film programs along with USC, UCLA, NYU and California Institute of the Arts by the Princeton Review and US News and World Report[2]

Conservatory programEdit

AFI Conservatory is a five-term Master of Fine Arts program in six disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design, and Screenwriting. Traditionally, the Conservatory accepts 28 Fellows per year for most disciplines and 14 for the Production Design and Editing disciplines. Each discipline's program runs two years in length.

First Year - Fellows from all disciplines work on at least three digital video or high definition short films (up to 20 minutes), referred to as 'cycle projects'. Each of these first-year projects are accomplished by Fellows with a minimum of oversight from the senior faculty. The purported goal being to stimulate a flexible and creative approach to filmmaking within imposed budgetary constraints and without the crutch of seasoned oversight. These 'cycle projects' make up the core curriculum of the first year experience and amount to a 'boot camp" of filmmaking that simultaneously challenges and invigorates the Fellows involved.

Second Year - Most Fellows work on at least one thesis short film, shot on digital video, high definition, 35mm film, or 16mm film, and develop portfolio materials (such as a reel and a feature film screenplay). Screenwriting Fellows have the option of writing two feature-length screenplays instead of participating in a thesis film. They are responsible for raising the bulk of their own financing for these projects (average budget is $30,000), and must adhere to standard industry regulations, such as SAG charter rules, during filming. The senior faculty of the conservatory oversee the development of the 'second year' projects and monitor their development in a manner similar to what might be expected of an Executive Producer.[3]



External linksEdit