Applications closing for 2023 AFTRS Master of Arts Screen

Applications closing 2023 AFTRS Master of

AFTRS, Australia’s prestigious national screen and broadcast school, is renowned for its Master of Arts Screen program. Offered in nine disciplines—cinematography, directing, documentary, editing, music, producing, production design, screenwriting and sound design—applications for the 2023 intake close on the 31st of August.

In 2023, the Australian Film Television and Radio School will celebrate its 50th anniversary, half a century in which it has cemented its place as the country’s premier film school and one of the best in the world.

The very first graduating class in 1973 included Australian heavyweights like Gillian Armstrong (High Tide, Little Women) and Phillip Noyce (Dead Calm, The Quiet American). Since then, AFTRS alumni have gone on to win almost every accolade in the world of film, including BFIs, multiple Cannes accolades, and Oscars. 

Their ever-growing list of notable graduates includes such names as Jane Campion, Warwick Thornton, Cate Shortland, and Tony McNamara. 

“Like many Australian screen directors, I actually came here originally as a student,” says Rowan Woods (The Boys, The Kettering Incident, ), current Head of Directing at AFTRS “I came here to hone my craft and to gain confidence in my creative vision. But I also gained wonderful relationships that were important to my professional journey.”

AFTRS continues to develop the most promising upcoming Australian filmmakers of today. Recent graduate Shannon Murphy swept the 2020 AACTA Awards with her debut feature Babyteeth, and Ruby Challenger’s short film MumLife was one of the 13 live-action films selected among more than 1,500 titles submitted by film schools from all over the world to compete at this year’s La Cinef Film School Shorts Competition.

The Master of Arts Screen is a two-year, full-time degree designed to give creatives all the tools they need to fast-track their careers. Offered in nine disciplines (Directing, Producing, Screenwriting, Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, Sound Design, Music, Documentary), the program heavily focuses on cross-disciplinary projects to develop in students a multi-faceted skill set. At the same time, the intention is to help them nurture creative relationships with other practitioners of different fields, collaborations that can carry on to the professional world.

“You’re working with absolutely amazing students as well like there’s some really great students from other disciplines, composers and cinematographers,” says recent graduate Naomi Fryer, winner of The Spectrum Films Award for Best Direction at Flickerfest 2021 for her graduating short film This River, “it’s also the teachers that come through the building and particularly some of the workshops that we did with specialists that would come in for a week or two weeks”

The hands-on, two-year course culminates in the production of a major creative work helmed entirely by the students. Additionally, each pupil will have the chance to undertake a short professional placement to aid in their transition into the industry upon graduation.

Aside from being packed with awarded talent, AFTRS counts with world-renown facilities. Located in Moore Park right beside Fox Studios, the school has five industry-standard studios, two of them enormous spaces able to accommodate complex visual effects shoots.

Depending on the course, students are able to book and borrow all the gear they need, every tool up to date to the latest technical specifications.

“The first thing I noticed with the equipment store is the way the kits have been built,” comments AFTRS alumnus Sidat de Silva, winner of one Gold at the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS) ACT/NSW Awards. “It’s clearly been built by cinematographers. You have all the little bits that you wouldn’t know to have unless a cinematographer would have specified this is what we need.”

AFTRS also has a props and costumes store, its own set workshop, state-of-the-art recording studios, screening theatres, and computer labs. A full-time gaffer and grip with industry experience are always at hand to help students in whatever they need.

“The facilities are amazing!” says 2021 graduate Becky Evans, first assistant editor on Disney’s upcoming series Last Days of the Space Age. “Each editing student gets their own edit suite, which is quite amazing because you can go in there and just spend your whole time editing all day if you want.”

Above all, what AFTRS is looking for in their prospective students is diverse voices with passion and commitment. People from different backgrounds and experiences who can enrich the course with unique perspectives.

Rich Welch, AFTRS Head of Documentary, describes what the school looks for in candidates; “The ideal candidate will be curious, creative, and passionate. Curious about the world around them and wanting to ask questions, and challenge what we think we know.” 

In the first year of The Master of Arts Screen program, classes are held full-day from Mondays to Wednesdays, with Thursdays and Fridays free to give students an opportunity to develop their projects or work to sustain themselves throughout the program.

The Australian Film Television and Radio School welcomes students from diverse backgrounds and financial possibilities. AFTRS offers a wide range of merit-based scholarships and financial support options to assist with the costs of higher education. 

“Thething that pushed me to apply was the fact that I lacked confidence in my skills, or rather, I lacked the confidence to go into the industry,” says recent graduate Chloe Turner, foley recordist and editor on the Apple TV+ comedy series Trying, “I learned not only to have my skills improved but to have the confidence to back those skills up.”

The school offers many ways for you to know more about the course offerings and to even have a taste of the AFTRS experience before you decide to enrol. You can contact AFTRS Student Centre on 1300 223 877 or if you want to chat with one of the heads of discipline or admissions advisors. 

“Your connection with AFTRS doesn’t end when you leave,” explains Petra Leslie, part of the camera and electrical department of the action film Interceptor, “you know, I still speak to certain staff, certain teachers, and they are more than happy to keep supporting you once you’re out of the door. It’s not an investment that’s just for two or three years, it’s an investment that keeps on giving.”

You can learn more about the AFTRS Master of Arts Screen program and find information about each one of the nine disciplines offered (Cinematography, Directing, Documentary, Editing, Music, Producing, Production Design, Screenwriting, Sound Design) at the official Master’s course site.