NOVA Offers an Exciting New Degree to Prepare Students to Work in the Cinema Industry

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By Amy Taylor

Sponsored by Northern Virginia Community College

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is making dreams come true for students in the Prince William area with a passion for cinema. NOVA now offers an Associates of Fine Arts in Cinema that is built for students to transfer to four-year schools or enter directly into the workforce. Students moving on to study in a four-year university can earn degrees on either the side of cinema, production or theory, as the Cinema AFA is well-rounded in both areas.

According to Chris Stallings, instructor of film/video production at NOVA, classes are available at five NOVA campuses.

“For the first three years of the degree, it is ‘housed’ at both the Woodbridge and Alexandria campuses, where all the classes are available; however, some of the classes for the degree are, also, available on our Loudoun, Manassas, and Annandale campuses,” Stallings said in an email.

Some course offerings are also hybrid — a combination of online and on-campus.

“There are a number of the courses which are hybrid, but those are more of the classes in film studies/film theory rather than the studio art classes of film production. Some of those are being reworked to also transition into hybrids as well. Summer 2019 should see the introduction of our first strictly online courses for the degree but it is still a work in progress as we coordinate the logistics, so no news at this time,” Stallings said.

Students will get hands-on experience and advice from professionals working in the field.

“We have worked hard to bring in local, regional, even national industry professionals on both sides of the camera, from talented actors to stunt coordinators, producers, and directors. Some have even participated in some of the productions and/or worked alongside the students in the honing of their own craft. We currently have plans to expand this outreach and partnership even further as the degree grows, including through our internship program,” Stallings said.

There is also an exciting study abroad option available for Cinema AFA students.

“We have created a collaboration with a sister film school, FAMO (Film Academy of Miroslav Ondricek), in the Czech Republic. Twenty-two of our Cinema students traveled there this past summer (2018) for four weeks. They worked in an intensive program alongside award-winning filmmakers with credits in Czech and European Cinema and many American movies too. The summer program has quickly gained attention and interest and we are already planning the same trip for Summer 2019 and beyond. Students will have more master classes with these industry international partners and have exciting opportunities such as shooting on actual 16mm and 35mm film stock,” Stallings said.

The Cinema AFA gives students unique opportunities to gain hands-on experience and build a portfolio of work. An internship and portfolio review are built into the degree to prepare them for careers in cinema. Students will train on industry-level equipment and software so that they will be prepared when they enter the workforce.

For more information about the program, visit


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