“We apply a practice-based and experiential approach, where students develop their knowledge, skills and artistic competence on the floor”
Industry Report: European Film Schools
Karin Julsrud • Dean, Norwegian Film School
Our conversation revolved around the main opportunities offered to prospective students by the prestigious Norwegian film school
We took the opportunity to interview Karin Julsrud, dean of the Norwegian Film School, to discuss the main learning opportunities it offers to prospective students. The Lillehammer-based institution is part of both GEECT (European Grouping of Film and Television Schools) and CILECT (International Association of Film and Television Schools).
Cineuropa: What is your school’s main teaching mission?
Karin Julsrud: The Norwegian Film School is Norway’s national film school, and our mission is to develop artistic storytellers in film and related media arts who contribute to the development of Norwegian and Scandinavian film. We apply a practice-based and experiential approach, where students develop their knowledge, skills and artistic competence on the floor though practical workshops, and both individual and team-based productions. International students must have a good command of Norwegian (or another Scandinavian language) to attend, but once here, they are fully integrated into the study programmes and student cohort.
What types of study programmes do you offer?
We offer practice-based programmes at the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and PhD level. The BFA consists of seven programmes – screenwriting, directing, producing, cinematography, production design, editing and sound – where students will graduate with a BFA in one of these disciplines but also spend approximately half their time working on productions in teams with representatives from some or all of the other disciplines. Authenticity is key for us, as we design workshops and other learning experiences where students will have an opportunity to learn in situations that prepare them for the real world of film production. In the MFA, there is a much greater emphasis on the individual filmmakers developing themselves, and the field, through artistic research. Students are accepted from all disciplines of filmmaking, but work individually to stretch their own artistry and contribute to the development of the field through original artistic research and work.
The PhD is in the process of being established as an independent degree in Artistic Research in Film and Related Audiovisual Arts. It builds on a strong tradition of 3rd-cycle artistic research in Norway, where the emphasis is on artistic practice and artistic work that expands the horizons of cinematic and audiovisual storytelling.
Do you provide any scholarships?
Public higher education is free in Norway, including for international students. As a result of this, we have no scholarships.
How should a student prepare for admission?
Admissions for both BFA and MFA studies are held every two years. While there is no formal requirement for the BFA other than a high-school diploma, the competition to get in is such that successful applicants generally have some experience in the discipline they are applying to. The admission process relies on interviews and practical testing conducted by a committee consisting of school faculty and industry professionals (mostly alumni), and can stretch over several weeks. Applications must be sent in Norwegian, Swedish or Danish, and the admissions process is conducted in those languages.
The MFA requires a BFA from the Norwegian Film School or a comparable degree from a GEECT/CILECT school and two years’ relevant professional experience. Like the BFA, admissions are based on a combination of an application and testing. Applicants should present an idea that can form the basis of their artistic research project.
How are you adapting your teaching and other study activities owing to the pandemic?
As it has been for many programmes relying on artistic practice and collaboration, the pandemic has been a challenge for us. In the initial few weeks, the staff designed a series of workshops and classes for online environments, but the key turning point was the school’s adoption of and adherence to strict COVID-19 protocols developed by the Norwegian film industry. These protocols made production more cumbersome and expensive, but completion of the 2020-21 academic year would not have been possible without them. At the same time, the rapid adoption of online communication for feedback and small-group discussions has allowed the students at all levels to maintain contact with teachers and supervisors based abroad, and we hope these will continue to be used as tools allowing increased flexibility, reduced environmental impact due to travel, and a more international network of tutors and staff.
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