Film Workshop

San Francisco Art & Film for Teenagers

A comprehensive film studies program for teens and college students. Offers a weekly filmmaking workshop October-June and a 9-day summer film intensive.


A 9-day course specially designed for film students and media teachers to expand their filmmaking skills and deepen their understanding of the form.

TO ENROLL click here to fill out an application. Applicants who are chosen for the workshop should send a deposit of $100 on or before June 15 to secure their place.

This workshop will encapsulate our 9-month program for students, including an overview of film history and a full film production, beginning with developing ideas and writing scripts through production and editing.  Each day will include discussions about what makes films beautiful and vital.

The intensive is geared towards:

  • film/media teachers who wish to revitalize their excitement about teaching and develop their curriculum

  • students with basic camera skills who wish to develop their skills as directors and deepen understanding of film as art

  • students who may not want to become directors but who are passionate about films and want to deepen their understanding of them

Each day participants will:
1. Complete a lesson in the “Cornerstones of Filmmaking”
2. Watch a classic film that exemplifies the day’s “lesson” and discuss the aesthetic implications of the director’s choices.
3. Incrementally develop a film from inception to production using the lessons learned from the films and exercises.

Teachers participating in the intensive will be given detailed lesson suggestions that can be used in their classrooms as well as a full set of our 8 lesson films: CORNERSTONES OF FILMMAKING

Ronald Chase’s work in training youth media artists is unsurpassed in America by every standard. I urge you to consider expanding your avant-guard teaching skill sets to further enrich the experience of your students and build the most inspired 21st Century video work force!
— William Bronston
CEO, Tower of Youth
& Sacramento Sierra Digital Arts Studio Partnership

San Francisco—between the Mission district and Potrero Hill, one of the fastest growing, dynamic areas of SF. Great cafes and lots of energy. The Workshop is held in a loft in an artist’s live-work co-op. We can assist out-of-town students in finding affordable housing for the 10 days.

Each day will run from 11am until 6-6:30pm, with breaks for lunch and coffee. Some evenings may include free seats to music and theater performances.

The fee for both teachers and students is $1500. Some partial scholarships are available.

Ronald Chase has led the workshop for 15 years. He is a working artist with a 40-year career in developing film and projection for theater (opera); two feature films and 30 years as critic at large on public radio (KALW-FM). A detailed outline of his career is available on Wikipedia.

Isaiah Dufort is the writing mentor. He is the author of a couple dozen short films, including the Film Workshop’s The Fish and Two Photographs, both winners of awards from the National Academy of Television. He also teaches playwriting in the creative writing department at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts High School.

Jesse Filipko is the production and editing mentor. He has written and directed some two-dozen short films and a radio program with his production team, Agent Xenon. He has seven years experience as a commercial producer and videographer.

We are living in the stultifying era of testing, when things are memorized and repeated, and that’s called education. But real education involves real engagement, which leads to levels of inquiry, which leads to creativity. Ronald Chase does all that and much more.
— Susan Stauter
Artistic Director, San Francisco Unified School District

The Lesson Films—8 volumes (14 hours)

1. POV
Point of view is one of the most helpful tools for letting students create vivid moments in their films. This lesson includes sections on the history of film and the ways it developed in Hollywood and France. It also includes a final section on the mechanics of close-up, medium and long shot in film.

This lesson explains what a visual concept is and how they can be used in film. It also covers film history during the 1930’s and 40’s and the coming of the Art Film to America.

Introduces techniques such as three-dimensional use of space, reveal and closure and the use of dolly and camera movement.

How and why to make use of montage. This lesson includes examples from Eisenstein, Leger, Riefenstahl, Bergman, Brook, Aronofsky and Kirostani.

Just as a film needs to be shaped into a story, so do each of the scenes within it. Orchestration is necessary when multiple storylines/characters converge, as we will see examples from Orson Welles, The Brothers Quay and Luchino Visconti.

This lesson covers how to read—and employ—visual symbols to tell a story or express difficult ideas in film.

This lesson shows use of the intercutting by Hitchcock, Peter Jackson, Renais, and Coppola to name a few. Then it covers different approaches to music and sound, not to mention silence, from Casablanca to Kubrick.

Here we evaluate different stylistic approaches to the same material including Hamlet, Tess of the d’Ubervilles and Harry Potter.

I work with several teens who are interested in film careers but who don’t receive a proper grounding because of the haphazard way in which they are educated about film. I would like to be able to teach them in an integrated way, rather than just piecemeal delivering the things I have learned along the way. When I heard you speak, I realized that you had a clear vision of the important principles a young filmmaker should work with. More importantly it was clear you had an organized way of presenting them, building a useful base to incorporate their experiences from all the visual arts.
— Alex Silva-Sadder
Davis Media