af Tamas Stéger, Class ’14
A road to master the craft of filmmaking
Following several years of making music, being radio host, and other explorations of sound’s role in my life, I realized film audio was what I’m really interested in. I actually think it’s the craft that found me, not the other way round. The place this moment hit me at was Sonic College in Haderslev where I was having many good teachers paving my way. After graduating in 2014, I started freelancing, and founded my own company in Copenhagen, thinking I might want to have some further education in sound design, or film audio (they’re not the same thing) later.
In 2015, I once again ended up relocating. The chance rose to join The Norwegian Film School’s brand new, 2-year-long master programme in Oslo, and I felt this is something meant for me, so, when I passed in, I packed my stuff, and moved to the Norwegian capital.
Let me tell you, this is not a sound design master programme. It’s called Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Filmmaking, and we’re expected to gain greater experience and confidence in the use of the storytelling elements of film, and thus further improve our ability to fulfil our role in larger fiction productions. Fits me perfectly. As an Erasmus student from Sonic College I went to University of Film and Theatre in Budapest, where I got to learn, to some extent, the filmmaking craft. Later worked in quite a few short films, in different sound roles. So with this education in Oslo I didn’t expect to be taught the basics, or technical stuff. I actually didn’t really expect anything. And I seem getting just what I need.
As an MFA student you don’t have to sweat getting to school every day. We’re having teaching modules, five of them this year, each lasting one or two weeks. Folks from all departments attend these classes together. We’re a small group of 14 people: sound men, editors, cinematographers, directors, producers, screenwriters, music composers (they’re actually enrolled by the Norwegian Music Academy.)
So far we had classes about film analysis, “cinematurgy” (audiovisual storytelling), art philosophy and aesthetics. I absolutely enjoyed the latter one. I felt that yeah, this is the level I wanted to step up to. These classes are compulsory for all disciplines. Within each module there are workshops and exercises. We have access to cinematographic equipment, HD cameras, editing suites and sound suites to carry out the exercises.
Every Thursday afternoon in semester 1 and 2 (as far as it suits other plans) the school organises a special event called Aftensang (Evening Song) for all students. Here we can meet topical guests, from film/TV, theatre, literature, the pictorial arts and other art forms.
The second part of our studies consists of two subjects:
- Individual specialisation and in-depth study
- Master productions in teams
The students shall present an area within their own professional discipline in which they want to specialise. This subject is meant to provide us with new insights and experiences in an important part of our discipline. The school, in co-operation with the students, select a study supervisor for the specialisation. Using supervisors of international standing is giving us the support needed for mastering our instrumental specialist skills and thus deepen our artistic identity and distinctiveness.
Already during the first semester, the students start planning for what will end up as our Masters production – a feature film or a TV series. In our case, both teams chose to shoot a feature. The preproduction process for this is taking up a considerable part of the first year. The shooting and postproduction of the Master production will take place during semester 3 and 4. The Norwegian Film School provides the basic financing of the Masters production. Furthermore, the school’s own equipment and facilities can be used for the shooting and postproduction, as well as production premises.
I’m way into the 2nd semester, and our team is already shooting test reels, we’re having meetings with potential crew members, scouting locations, casting actors, etc. For audio post-production I have my own studio at disposal, with a 5.1 system (Genelc speakers for now, but there are plans to exchange them), not so big room, but perfect for editing, equipped with a Mac Pro (installed with all the apps I need), plus an Avid Artist Control.
As the first dozen of students in this new kind of education we’re still guinea pigs, but the programme is already pretty unique in its league. The study conditions have no fellow, and we’re supported by benevolent and inspiring teachers and professionals.