SVA's MFA Social Documentary Film program fosters filmmaking that is skillful and sure—not just technologically, but artistically, socially and critically as well.
Documentary has gone from niche to omnipresent in the last decade. Audiences are thrilled to see fresh global stories, and be inspired by the lives of change-makers, artists, and the average Joe. They celebrate our history, inspire change, and let us discover distant regions and own neighborhoods with a fresh eye. But, as changes in technology make it easier to make films, more and more non-fiction films compete for limited resources and audience. It then becomes vitally important to produce a film that stands out - those with true fluency in the form have a crucial advantage.
Over the course of the two-year program, students learn the fundamentals of nonfiction filmmaking in a supportive and inclusive environment. Students make many films throughout the program, allowing them opportunities to experiment and hone their craft. They are introduced to the wider industry through film festivals, guest lectures, screenings, internships and jobs, and a host of other networking events in the city.
Located in the heart of Manhattan, “SocDoc” is a part of the most active documentary film community in the world. Students work directly with accomplished nonfiction storytellers — as faculty, mentors, and collaborators. Our hard-working faculty are constantly putting out new films and television series, giving our students first-hand access to the day-to-day workings of a filmmaker, and the benefit of their expertise and insights. The department also works to foster a direct line into the production community that will be their best network after graduation.
SocDoc alumni have made an impressive impact. Alumni films have received nearly a million dollars in production funding from Sundance Institute, ITVS, Jerome Foundation, Center for Asian American Media, IDFA BERTHA Fund, Chicken and Egg Pictures, Princess Grace Award, and others. They have won a Student Academy Award and received multiple nominations. Alumni earned international industry support via film markets like Doc Buenos Aires, HotDocs Forum, and IFP Independent Film Week; have been broadcast or received theatrical release across the U.S., as well as in Russia, Germany, and Japan; and played festivals around the world including Berlin, IDFA, SXSW, Full Frame, Tribeca, and DOC NYC.
Now in our eighth year, MFA SocDoc is proud to advise, inspire, and mentor the next generation of non-fiction filmmakers. No matter the subject matter or style—be it personal, political, comic, or revolutionary—social documentary films increase our awareness of ourselves and the world we inhabit. At SVA, we are committed to realizing that potential, and we welcome the opportunity to add you to our growing community.