Cinema Production Program Diploma

"Tell me and I will forget... Teach me and I will remember... Involve me and I will learn."
- Benjamin Franklin
Nashville film institute


NFI's Cinema Production Program curriculum gives you a total immersion in hands-on filmmaking. Here’s what is covered in your coursework:

World of Film

In this exciting course students will trace the evolution of cinema from its silent roots to today's world of mind bending digital effects and surround sound. Topics covered in this course include the introduction of synch sound, the Griffith film language, experimental film and the use of film as propaganda. Students will also explore genre, international film and different styles such as film noir and neo-realism.


In this course students will learn story development and different screenwriting techniques. Topics include character development, how to write good dialogue and the three act structure. Other topics explored are sequences, the protagonist's journey and the differences between film, television and commercial scripts. Students will be assigned script writing projects, along with the scripts necessary to shoot their five core productions. These will be discussed and critiqued by faculty, staff, and fellow students in a constructive professional manner.

Cinematography, Photography, Grip & Electric

This course begins with the basics of photography then progresses to motion picture theory. Students will receive training on High Definition cameras and gain insight into the science behind the photographic and filmmaking process, including the important role of the D.I.T (Digital Intermediate Technician) Within the cinematography curriculum NFI students will learn composition, camera choice (the best tool for the job), how to use lenses, depth of field, camera angles, shot sizes and how to create a specific mood or emotion. Students will get hands on training with all the instruments used in lighting and grip and learn how to shape and tell stories with light.


Like the director who oversees all creative aspects of the film from beginning to end the producer oversees the creative and the commercial. The producer is ultimately responsible for what goes on screen and they must have a broad knowledge of all aspects of filmmaking and a keen sense of business. Topics covered in this course are how to find funding, budgeting and scheduling, contracts, copyright law, releases and how to hire well. Students will also explore optioning a book or story, production management and how to get the most 'production value' for the money.


The Director oversees all creative aspects of the production from beginning to end and works closely with everyone from the writer to the colorist to ensure a unified vision. In this course students will learn how to clearly convey their ideas and how to lead a film crew with confidence, how to cast and direct actors and encourage the best performances, learn to work under pressure and problem solve on the fly, how to create a shot list and how to pitch your concept to a producer. Other topics explored in this course are directing independent film vs. the studio picture, commercial, music video and documentary directing and the importance of good Assistant Directors. Techniques of great Directors of the last century will be examined.


No project will work without stellar performances. In the casting component students learn all about the casting process and how to find top talent for their productions. They will learn the role of agents and casting directors and how to run a successful casting session. Other topics include release forms and waivers and the difference between union and non-union talent.


Students will learn both the theoretical and technical side of video editing: How to log and capture and prepare footage for editing, how to create a sequence, synching audio and picture, how to accentuate a dramatic or comedic moment and understanding rhythm and timing within your cut. Students will also learn to finesse and tighten, advancing picture, advancing audio and all technical aspects of the NLE platform. Students will also learn how to export their project into different sizes and formats and how to color correct and build a title sequence with their NLE software. Video and sound editing software is provided.


This course covers everything from capturing quality location sound to post-production mixing and output. Students will learn proper boom technique and the different applications of shotgun and lavaliere microphones, the importance of a quiet location and techniques for capturing the cleanest audio on set. Students will also learn how to write sound reports and how to deliver sound files to the post house. The post production part of this course will cover ADR, foley, walla, sound effects, sweetening, ambience, music and how to create a three dimensional atmosphere that supports the story. Students will also learn to mix in stereo and 5.1 and how to output and deliver a professional quality mix.

Production Design

Sometimes called the Art Director the Production Designer is responsible for the overall look of the film, music video or commercial. This includes locations, sets, props, wardrobe and make-up. The P.D will work closely with the director and Cinematographer to work out a specific color palette for the project and make sure this vision is achieved. Topics include set building, painting and dressing, how to create an overall tone or mood and how to choose locations with built in production value.

Music Video Production

Music videos are a directors and designers medium. This course focuses on the art and business behind music videos. Students will discover techniques on how to create polished looking videos as well as how to win contracts for Music video work with Major labels and independent musicians.

Commercial Production

Making commercials can be one of the most exciting experiences for a filmmaker. Having to tell complex stories and evoking emotions in just 30 seconds is a huge technical and creative challenge. In this course students will learn how the advertising agency, client and production company work together to create the next big AD. Students will learn how to create a Director's Treatment and Production Package and how to pitch and win Commercial contracts.


This course focuses on the documentary. Students will learn creative interview techniques, how to find the narrative through line using B-roll, interviews, photographs and narration and how to select interesting subjects. The legal issues of shooting non-fiction will be discussed as well as different filming techniques that will help you capture every moment. Instructors will reference award-winning documentaries during class.

Marketing, Distribution & Film Festivals

This course focuses on different methods of distribution and how to bring your product to market. Topics include theatrical release, straight to video, pay per view, cable and online distribution. Other topics explored are the benefits of behind the scenes video, trailers and blogs and crowd funding for Prints & Advertising. Film festivals have traditionally been an easy way to get an audience and create buzz for your film. Students will learn which festivals are right for their film, how to make important contacts and the right time to hire a publicist.

Color Correction

In this course students learn the crucial stage of color correction. They will learn how to match clips, how to create different looks within scenes and adjust every aspect of the image to get that perfect overall 'look' that supports the story perfectly. Students will learn how to achieve these looks within their video editing software and be introduced to other tools available on the market.

Titles & Visual Effects

In this course students will be introduced to creative titling and various visual effects techniques. Students will learn how to create titles within their video editing software and also be introduced to different tools on the market.