Director Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa, one of the most influential directors in the history of film, will again shape a generation of filmmakers through a medium that Kurosawa himself might only have imagined: an online MFA program in Digital Filmmaking. Aspiring filmmakers will learn their craft by studying with experts in the field, including hours of never-seen-before footage of Kurosawa on the set, allowing students to go behind the scenes and learn visual articulation directly from the master.

Modern directorial giants such as George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg have all professed to be deeply influenced by the great Kurosawa. Lucas who, along with Francis Ford Coppola, co-produced Kurosawa’s Kagemusha, states, “It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Kurosawa’s work and that his films were a source of inspiration for my own Star Wars saga…. He had a tremendous influence on my life, on my work, and on my sensitivity to visual story telling.” Coppola agrees, stating that “certain great masters have made a few masterpieces, and in Kurosawa’s case, he made about ten. So, he is almost without comparison.” Oliver Stone likens Kurosawa’s presence on a film set to that of “…an emperor. He walked into a room and people… stopped and they looked.” Martin Scorsese, who acted in Kurosawa’s Dreams, said, “Kurosawa was my master and the master of so many filmmakers over the years. I congratulate the Anaheim University Akira Kurosawa School of Film [and] I thank them for paying tribute to a man who was our master, our sensei.” Steven Spielberg, who produced Kurosawa’s Dreams, adds that “Akira Kurosawa has been a maestro to my entire generation and to every generation of filmmakers who watches movies, are inspired by movies, and learn from movies. I have learned more from him than almost any filmmaker on the face of the Earth.”

The Kurosawa legacy continues through the Anaheim University Akira Kurosawa School of Film. With the support of Akira Kurosawa’s family and Kurosawa Production, Anaheim University has been digitizing archives and conducting video interviews with those who knew and worked with Akira Kurosawa for some two decades in preparation for the school’s launch. The school was developed in the spirit of Akira Kurosawa, to teach the craft of filmmaking while incorporating the latest advances in the industry. As pioneers in the field of online education, Anaheim University was equipped for such an endeavor, as the University has taught graduate degree programs online in real time since the 1990s, and Anaheim University’s mastery of online curriculum development has made it possible to develop what is perhaps the most advanced film school of its time.

Throughout the program, students meet weekly with their professors and classmates in live online high definition webcam classes, where they discuss the work they uploaded and the video lecture they watched prior to the interactive class with their professor. Students also interact in daily discussion forums and complete filmmaking assignments that could range from shooting scenes to editing sound files (most courses in the MFA program have a hands-on component). In addition, they attend a one-week, on-site residential session in Los Angeles or Tokyo, where they will have access to equipment and a moviemaking experience carried out in a professional environment. Students enrolled in the online MFA degree program are required to have access to camera, lighting, software and other audio/visual equipment that meet the school’s minimum standards. For students who do not have all of the required equipment, it can be purchased at an academic discount for approximately $2,000. Because Anaheim students own their own film equipment, they spend more time behind the lens and directing shots than one would expect in a traditional school of film, where there are often waiting lists for accessing film equipment.

The Dean of the Anaheim University Akira Kurosawa School of Film, Dr. David Desser, is a distinguished film professor and author holding a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California (USC)’s Cinema program. According to Dr. Desser, who has taught in film programs at USC, UCLA, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, and the University of Illinois, “Anaheim University is poised to play an important role in 21st century filmmaking education. With our unique and exclusive video content, combined with our proximity to Hollywood that provides unique access to major filmmakers, craftspeople, studio personnel and others in the media production and distribution industry, our program offers students an unparalleled opportunity to experience and learn the varieties of film, video, animation, and game production.”