San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking Class 19 will be graduating on March 15th 2015!

Graduation will take place at 11am at the Brava Theater in the San Francisco Mission District.
All students (current and alumni), faculty, friends and family members are welcome to attend this FREE event!
Graduation will consist of a celebration with food, drinks and each graduating student premiering his or her final project on the big screen!


11 am – Lobby Doors Open
Lobby doors of the Brava Theater will open at 11am allowing for a brief reception in which the students, faculty, family and friends will be able to meet and socialize.

11:30 am – Graduation
At 11:30am the main theater will open and the graduation ceremony will begin.

12 pm – Screening
Graduating students will premier his or her final project on the big screen!

1:30 pm – Final Reception
From 1:30 – 2pm students, faculty, friends and family will have another opportunity to socialize.
For tickets and more information about this event go to: Class 19 Graduation

The Brava Theater is located at 2781 24th Street in San Francisco. For more information about the Brava Theater, please check out their website at:

FilmSchoolSF 10th Anniversary Celebration

It has been an exciting 10 years since the San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking has been helping filmmakers achieve their goals.

On Saturday February 7th we are planning a special day to celebrate the schools 10th anniversary and the students who have made our success possible.

From 3pm until 9pm we will be having forums, student screenings and SPECIAL GUESTS, in the evening there will be yummy food, drink and live entertainment.

One of the special events of the day is an Industry Panel: Feature Film Production in San Francisco. Two of our panelists are SUNDANCE Filmmakers and some of the best film producers in the Bay Area.  See more details below:

Richard Bosner – Bosner produced the politically charged true story FRUITVALE STATION for Forest Whitaker’s Significant Productions starring Octavia Spencer and Michael B. Jordan that won the 2013 Sundance Grand Jury Award and Audience Award. His credits include the Sundance 2009 selection LA MISSION starring Benjamin Bratt, FALLING UPHILL a self directed SF dramedy, wine-country comedy THE CHATEAU MEROUX with Christopher Lloyd and Marla Sokoloff, and THE SECRETS OF JONATHAN SPERRY with Robert Guillaume and Gavin MacLeod.  He recently produced THE WANNABE starring Patricia Arquette and Michael Imperioli with Executive producer Martin Scorsese.

Debbie Brubaker – Brubaker recently had two films at this years Sundance Film Festival, including DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, which was sold to Sony Pictures. Debbie also recently worked as the San Francisco UPM on Tim Burton’s film BIG EYES. Also new is Woody Allen’s Oscar-winning film, BLUE JASMINE on which Debbie was UPM. Debbie spent the last summer line producing an indie movie QUITTERS and just prior to that, producing Second Unit for an ABC midseason replacement show called RED WIDOW. Other indies movies she has done include Peter Bratt’s movie, LA MISSION. She has also done many other feature narratives, such as Finn Taylor’s THE DARWIN AWARDS , DOPAMINE, directed by Mark Decena, which was also a big hit at the Sundance Film Festival 2003. “I love independent film. I know how to do it and get it done. I enjoy working on projects from the features I’ve done, to commercials, industrials and docs. It’s what I do. It’s what I want to do.”

Please join us for an exciting day of celebration and honoring those that have made this the best film school in San Francisco!

3:00pm – 5:00pm: Film Screening – A Selection of Student Films 2005 – 2014
5:00pm – 6:30pm: Industry Panel – Feature Film Production in San Francisco
6:30pm – 7:30pm: Schmooze & Booze
7:30pm – 8:00pm: Keynote Address by FilmSchoolSF President, Jeremiah Birnbaum
8:00pm – 9:00pm: More Schmooze & Booze


San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking has become a nationally accredited school

We are proud and delighted to officially announce that the San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking has become a nationally accredited school. After more than two years of work, the Council on Occupation Education (COE), one of only a handful of national accrediting organizations recognized by the US Department of Education, certified that FilmSchoolSF satisfied all the requirements to become an accredited institution. The mission of the COE is “assuring quality and integrity in career and technical education,” and FilmSchoolSF is honored to be a member of their family of accredited schools.

The goals that represent the significant values and purposes to which the COE is dedicated are the following:

  1. To offer public assurance that accredited educational institutions provide quality instruction in career and technical education that facilitates learning by students and meeting the needs of the labor market.
  2. To provide guidance to institutions for the continual improvement of their educational offerings and related activities.
  3. To promote high ethical and educational standards for career and technical education.
  4. To enhance public understanding of career and technical education providers and of the value of the education and the credentials offered by these providers.
  5. To ensure that the accreditation process validates the achievement of learning and program objectives.

In addition to insuring the quality of education and the financial integrity of the institution, being accredited allows a school to register with the US Department of Education to offer Title IV financial aid. FilmSchoolSf is in the process of this registration. Please contact our Admissions Department for any further information,

The San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking participates in all Federal Student Financial Aid Programs by the Department of Education. Students who are accepted into the Digital Filmmaking Program are eligible to receive Title IV funding, including Pell Grants and federal loans. FilmSchoolSF President and Co-Founder, Jeremiah Birnbaum, says “Last year we became a nationally accredited institution and this year we are able to offer financial aid. With our students having access to federal grants and low cost loans, we continue to enhance and improve the FilmSchoolSF experience.”
When you click apply today is should go to the FAFSA web site.

Interview with Keith Curry, Jr. – Veteran in 18 month Filmmaking Program

Keith Curry, Jr. shares about being a U.S. Veteran, Filmmaker and student in the 18 month Filmmaking Program at FilmSchoolSF. The challenges and opportunities for Veterans to tell their stories and develop new creative careers in entertainment:

“Who really cares about veterans? They all say “Thanks for your service” but they don’t know what they are thanking me for. They don’t have a clue. But another veteran does. And the more people get to this kind of work – when you do have a voice, when you have a camera, when you work on a project and give a veteran’s point of view in that project – the more they help American population really understand what a veteran does, so people can be more engaged with us. The more veterans can pick up a camera, pick up a pen and write a screenplay or a script, the more people can really understand who we are as people.

My name is Keith Curry Jr. and it will be till the day I die but the day I raised my hand and joined the military I became a different person. My parents don’t understand me, nobody understands me. So we have to really find ways to get people to understand what we are coming from. For me that’s the most exciting gift that I can give to anybody. This is the way you can make a living, and while you are making a living you are not out breaking your back anymore, and at the same time you can apply yourself and contribute back to society by giving us a voice. That’s what fires me up.

The truth is that if you want to go to college, you either need to be very smart or play a sport and get a scholarship, or you have to get a student debt, or until recently you have to join the military and go to war and get your college paid for. So the price of my school was over 38 months of combat time. That was the deposit for my education.”

Watch the video to hear the rest of Keith’s story!

FilmSchoolSF Approved to Offer Financial Aid

The San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking is thrilled to announced that it has been approved to participate in all Federal Student Financial Aid Programs by the Department of Education. Students who are accepted into the Digital Filmmaking Program are now eligible to receive Title IV funding, including Pell Grants and federal loans. FilmSchoolSF President and Co-Founder, Jeremiah Birnbaum, says “Last year we became a nationally accredited institution and this year we are able to offer financial aid. With our students having access to federal grants and low cost loans, we continue to enhance and improve the FilmSchoolSF experience.”

Award-winning Writer / Producer joins FilmSchoolSF faculty

FilmSchoolSF is delighted to announce that award-winning writer/producer Fred Ritzenberg has joined the faculty. Fred has been in the film business for over twenty-five years, writing and producing motion pictures. His latest feature, the acclaimed film, ZAYTOUN, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before being distributed worldwide. The film tells the story of a 12-year-old Palestinian refugee, and an Israeli fighter pilot shot down over Beirut, Lebanon in 1982, and their unlikely journey to Israel, a place they both call home. ZAYTOUN was directed by Eran Riklis and produced by Fred and Academy-award winner Gareth Unwin (THE KING’S SPEECH).

Fred’s previous work includes producing and directing (with David Leivick) the critically acclaimed feature film, GOSPEL, which Variety, the industry magazine, called “technically and artistically, the best concert film since Martin Scorsese’s THE LAST WALTZ.” Siskel & Ebert gave GOSPEL “Two Thumbs Up,” and the New York Times’ Janet Maslin hailed it, “Wildly Exhilarating.”

Fred has written screenplays for some of Hollywood’s top name producers, including: BROTHER ZACK for Joe Roth (Morgan Creek), WOODY for Ted Field, (Radar Pictures), OFFICER BUDDY for Scott Kroopf (Interscope Pictures), THE LIMIT for Daniel Melnick (Indiprod Company at Columbia Pictures). TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT for Dick Clark Entertainment. PENNIES A DAY for Nash Entertainment. And most recently, THE CURE, for Mystic Films.
Currently, he is producing UP POHNPEI, an adaptation of the nonfiction book by Paul Watson.

Fred holds a BA and MFA in filmmaking at the S.F. Art Institute and is a member of the WGA (Writers Guild of America).

FilmSchoolSF is now approved for VETERANS!

FilmSchoolSF, one of the top Bay Area film schools, is proud to announce it has been approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs to accept veterans and military educational benefits for it’s 12- and 15-month Digital Filmmaking Program. FilmSchoolSF has a wonderfully diverse student body and we look forward to having more veterans enroll and tell their stories in motion pictures. In addition, because of it’s San Francisco location, many veterans will be eligible for generous housing and living benefits while attending school. FilmSchoolSF is located in the heart of the Bay Area – downtown San Francisco.

Click here for details on Veteran students admissions

For more information and how to enroll, please send an email to

FilmSchoolSF President wins Best Feature Award

TORN, directed by FilmSchool SF President, Jeremiah Birnbaum, won the Grand Prize Best Feature Film at the 2013 Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF), the largest film festival in New England. Called one of the top 10 film festivals in the United Staes, RIIFF screens more than 200 films from around the world. “Congratulations to the entire cast and crew of TORN. It is such an honor to win this award. Everyone at the festival was extremely friendly and supportive of the film. The audience was amazing with a wonderfully enthusiastic and engaging Q&A,” said Birnbaum.

Set in a quiet California suburban town. TORN tells the story of two families drawn together in tragedy and then ripped apart through prejudice and fear. Maryam Munsif, an upper-middle class Pakistani immigrant, and Lea Pelletier, a working- class single mom, form a deep bond after their teenage sons are killed when a gas line ruptures, causing an explosion at a local shopping mall. But when the police find evidence that a bomb caused the explosion, Maryam’s Muslim son becomes the prime suspect, and their relationship and lives are stretched to the breaking point.

TORN is being distributed by The Film Collective and will be opening theatrically at the Village East in NYC on October 18th and the Music Hall in LA on October 25th.

Please follow and LIKE the film on Facebook –

Jeremiah Birnbaum
SF School of Digital Filmmaking

The Philosophy of Filmmaking: Storytelling DNA – Filmmaking tips by Jeremiah Birnbaum – 1 of 12

By: Jeremiah Birnbaum, President – San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking

This is the first in a series of filmmaking tips blogs exploring the practical theories of filmmaking through the lens of philosophical thought. I am a filmmaker and this exploration will be rooted in the practical aspects of making movies in today’s re-evolving digital world. If you’re interested in reading about semiotics in post-revolutionary Russian cinema – look somewhere else.

Storytelling is an essential part of our DNA. Human beings’ innate, primal search for meaning is the birth of narrative.  We impart meaning to the events we experience. Our personal identity is created through the story of our lives. It is this innate gift for narrative that as filmmakers we must recognize and source for our work. Filmmakers are storytellers, working in the medium that has the most impact and relevance for today.

I myself am a filmmaker and an educator. I meet a lot of people who want to be filmmakers, people who want to take that journey, but they don’t know how to begin. The craft of filmmaking has much to blame for this. Except for the occasional post-modern or experimental work, we filmmakers do everything we can to hide the filmmaking process. Lights, cameras, crew are never shown. We want the audience to get lost in the movie, to experience the story unaware of the arduous tasks necessary to create that cinematic dream. Because of this slight of hand, non-filmmakers tend to come to two conclusions about filmmaking: either it’s EASY (films are so much fun to watch, how hard could it be to make one) or is it’s IMPOSSIBLE (I could never do that, I’m not a creative person).

Filmmaking is neither easy nor impossible. It is an art form rooted in craft. It is both highly technical and mysterious. The craft is something you can learn. How to tell a story within the context of a dramatic structure. How to use the latest camera. What lighting instruments are needed to create a desired look. How to create an actors performance in the editing room. This craft of filmmaking relays upon specific tools, often highly technical, but is not dependent on them. A great cinematographer can shoot beautiful footage with an old VHS camera. A talented editor may use a particular piece of software – but his skill is not tied to it. The tools of filmmaking are constantly changing, but the fundamental language of cinema has remained relatively constant. This is not say that film language is static. Like any living language it is evolving and developing with filmmakers ever punching holes in walls of narrative. Transmedia is all the rage. Movies made today look nothing like movies made 30 years ago, yet all films are bound together by essential elements of visual storytelling. One of my old film teachers said “movies come from movies,” and I agree.

Along with it’s technical demands, filmmaking is also an art-form and here is where “the mystery” plays its part. Where do story ideas come from? How do you make a truly great film? Why do talented filmmakers sometimes make awful movies? Personally I love the mysterious aspect of filmmaking. Having to embrace the uncertainty of the creative process is challenging and exciting. The not knowing forces me to dig deep and be fully present in every part of making a film. Some filmmakers describe this mystery as connecting with the subconscious, others talk about tapping into the “cosmic slipstream”. For me, embracing the mystery means creating a powerful and consistent dialog between my head and my heart. Between the intellectual concepts I’m exploring in the film and the emotional connections I’m feeling. A conversation encompassing what I think is right and what I feel is working. A strong head-heart connection is essential to making good cinema. Cultivating this connection is a talent that can be learned and developed, which brings us back to craft.

At the San Francisco film school I helped found in 2005, we have a core principal of teaching –  “the only way to learn filmmaking is to make films.” All our project-based curriculum is rooted in this philosophy.

The barriers to making movies have collapsed. Professional quality digital cameras are cheap, cloud-based editing software can be yours for $30 a month, crews can be organized with a few clicks of the mouse. For those of you yearning to dig deep and make films – concentrate on developing your craft, embrace the mystery, and remember that storytelling is in your DNA.

The Philosophy of Filmmaking: The Director’s Evolving Vision – Filmmaking tips by Jeremiah Birnbaum – Part 2 of 12