The Anaheim University Akira Kurosawa School of Film


Online MFA in Digital Filmmaking

The Online Master of Fine Arts in Digital Filmmaking degree is for individuals living around the world who wish to obtain a quality education from professors based in Hollywood and other leading film markets without having to relocate during their period of study. This program is for recent college graduates, as well as those who have pursued other professions but have a deep interest in filmmaking and a future filmmaking career. All MFA courses are taught 100% online, enabling you to study online while working full time and fulfilling your personal responsibilities.

  • Interact with your professor and fellow classmates around the world through live webcam classes
  • Specialize in a specific aspect of filmmaking through your selection of electives
  • Meet face-to-face with industry professionals and gain hands-on experience with professional equipment at a one-week residential session
  • Learn from professors based in Hollywood and other leading film markets without having to relocate during your period of study
  • Earn your Master's in approximately 3 years while working full-time


Click here to view program catalog


  • Faculty

    David Desser, Ph.D.

    David DesserDavid Desser, Ph.D.

    Dean of the Akira Kurosawa School of Film

    Dr. David Desser has taught at the University of Southern California (USC), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, Kansai University in Japan, Hong Kong Baptist University and the University of Illinois where he is Professor Emeritus of Cinema Studies. He rec...

    Vikram Channa, Masters in Film & Television Production

    Vikram ChannaVikram Channa, MA, Masters Film & Television, MBA

    Associate Dean of the Akira Kurosawa School of Film
    Film Professor

    Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific Vice President of Production and Development, Vikram Channa serves as Associate Dean of the Anaheim University Akira Kurosawa School of Film. Vikram, who in addition to having a Masters in Film and Television Production and a Masters in History, earned his MBA from the University of C...

    Lily Alexander, Ph.D.

    Lily AlexanderLily Alexander, Ph.D.

    Dr. Lily Alexander is the author of the book on film and screenwriting, Fictional Worlds. She completed two doctoral programs at the University of Alberta, Canada in “Modern Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies: Emphasis on Film Narratology, Visual Semiotics, Theories of Culture” and “Anthropology: Emphasis on...

    Ryan Daniel McKinney, MFA

    Ryan McKinneyRyan Daniel McKinney, MFA

    Ryan Daniel McKinney is an award-winning director and producer based out of Los Angeles, CA. His narrative films have screened at festivals in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Kansas City, Orlando and Melbourne. He has directed numerous music videos in multiple genres and languages, as well as fashion lifestyle and b...

    Raphael Raphael, Ph.D.

    Raphael RaphaelRaphael Raphael, Ph.D.

    Carrie Hamilton Entertainment Institute Director
    Film Professor

    Raphael Raphael (Ph.D., University of Oregon; MFA, Plymouth University; Masters, Teachers College, Columbia University) is a film and media scholar who also lectures at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. His work frequently looks at making connections between genre, culture and disability. His most recent book, Tra...

    Billy Budd Vermillion, Ph.D.

    Billy BuddVermillionBilly Budd Vermillion, Ph.D.

    Billy Budd Vermillion earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011. His dissertation examines the influence of Marxist humanist thought and the legacy of Socialist Realism on art films produced in East-Central Europe between 1956 and 1981. He has also published articles on silent romantic comedy...


    The Anaheim University Akira Kurosawa School of Film offers a cutting-edge online Master of Fine Arts in Digital Filmmaking degree program. Experience the following AU advantages:


    • Interact with your professor and fellow classmates around the world through live webcam classes
    • Specialize in a specific aspect of filmmaking through your selection of electives
    • Meet face-to-face with industry professionals and gain hands-on experience with professional equipment at a one-week residential session
    • Learn from professors based in Hollywood and other leading film markets without having to relocate during your period of study
    • Earn your Master's degree online in approximately 3 years while working full-time



    • 13 x 9 week Online Courses + thesis
    • Weekly live webcam classes
    • New terms begin every 10 weeks
    • 1 Course = 4 Credit Points
    • MFA in Digital Filmmaking Program = 56 Credit Points
    • One-week hands-on residential session held in Hollywood, California or Tokyo, Japan
    • Total duration = approximately 3 years

  • Akira Kurosawa School of Film

    In the Anaheim University Akira Kurosawa School of Film online Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Digital Filmmaking degree program, you will take a total of 14 online courses: 10 core courses, including a thesis, and four out of a choice of eight elective courses.

    Courses are taught in an accelerated semester format. Each term is 9 weeks in length, and you may enroll in new courses every 10 weeks. You have the option of enrolling in one course, several courses, or the entire MFA program. Students completing all 14 online courses and the required one-week residential session will be conferred the Master of Fine Arts in Digital Filmmaking degree by Anaheim University.

    Core Courses
    MFA 500 The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa in Global Context Language 4 units
    MFA 510 Film Aesthetics 4 units
    MFA 520 Intro to Digital Filmmaking 4 units
    MFA 530* Advanced Digital Filmmaking 4 units
    MFA 540 Screenwriting 4 units
    MFA 550 History of World Cinema 4 units
    MFA 560 Film Theory 4 units
    MFA 570 The International Film Business 4 units
    MFA 580 Concepts of Post-Production: Sound and Editing 4 units
    MFA 600** Thesis 4 units
      *Students must complete MFA 520 Intro to Digital Filmmaking in order to take this course. 
    **Students begin their thesis project after all other course work is completed
    Elective Courses - Group A (select two or three)
    MFA 590 Documentary Film – History and Theory*** 4 units
    MFA 591 Documentary Film Production*** 4 units
    MFA 592 Animation – History, Theory, Practice 4 units
    MFA 593 Producing for the Web 4 units
    MFA 594 Game Design – Theory and Practice 4 units
    MFA 595 Story Structure 4 units
      ***Students may take either MFA 590 or MFA 591  
    Elective Courses - Group B (select one or two)
    MFA 598 Transnational Film Genre 4 units
    MFA 599 Major World Directors 4 units

    56 units


    Upon completion of the Online MFA in Digital Filmmaking program, students will be able to:

    • Situate film and media in a continuum of artistic endeavors drawn from a variety of national traditions.
    • Understand the central place that Akira Kurosawa occupies in world cinema.
    • Be able to produce critical works on film and media in the language of the field and with an understanding of the critical theories that are most appropriate to cinematic and media texts.
    • Produce creative works that reflect timeless stories of interior and exterior journeys of understanding of the self and the world around.
    • Summarize significant research findings in the field.
    • Develop creative writings that reflect the professional standards demanded of the film and media industries.
    • Have a grasp of the techniques and technologies for the production of creative digital media.
    • Discern the variety of cinematic texts and the variety of ways they are produced, distributed and consumed.
    • Acquire the overall intellectual and professional background needed to enter the cinematic marketplace.
  • Online Master of Fine Arts in Digital Filmmaking - Course Schedule 2018

    Real-time online classes are 90 minutes; the first hour is led by the professor and the final half hour is for student-led discussion. All times are California/Pacific Time.

    11/27/17 - 2/11/18 MFA 560 Film Theory Dr. Raphael Raphael

    6:00 - 7:30 pm

    Feb. 26 - April 29 MFA 540 Screenwriting Dr. Lily Alexander

    5:30 - 7:00 pm

    May 21 - July 22 MFA 510 Film Aesthetics Dr. David Desser TBA
    Aug. 6 - Oct. 7 MFA 550 History of World Cinema  TBA TBA
    Oct. 15 - Dec. 16 MFA 580 Concepts of Post Production  TBA TBA

  • An application to the MFA in Digital Filmmaking program must include the following:

      • Application form
      • Application fee ($75)
      • One recent color photograph (digital is okay).
      • Official undergraduate transcripts from an accredited institution recognized by the US Department of Education and/or CHEA, or by the government of the country in which the degree was awarded, in a sealed envelope from the awarding institution with an overall GPA of no less than 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, or equivalent from non-USA Institutions.
        ( Note: If the university does not routinely issue transcripts in English, original language records must be submitted with official English translations. We will accept translations issued by the university or a professional translating service. Translations must be exact and complete versions of the original records.)
      • A resume.
      • A brief statement (300-400 words) indicating why you have selected the Anaheim University program, what you hope to get out of it, and how it will help you in your present and future career.

    Non-native English speakers must demonstrate college-level proficiency in one of the following ways:

    • Degree from an accredited institution where English is the primary language of instruction.
    • Transcript from an accredited institution indicating completion of at least 30 semester hours of credit where the language of instruction was English (“B” average)
    • Transcript from an accredited institution indicating a “B” or higher in an English composition class.
    • A minimum TOEFL score of 530 PBT / 197 CBT/ 71 iBT.
    • A minimum TOEIC score of 800.
    • A minimum IELTS score of 6.5.
    • A minimum PTE (Pearson Test of English Academic Score Report) of 50.
    • A minimum grade of Level 3 on the ACT COMPASS’s English as a Second Language Placement Test.
    • A minimum grade of Pre-1 on the Eiken English Proficiency Exam.
    • A minimum B2 English proficiency level identified within the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) Standards and assessed through various ESOL examinations, including the University of Cambridge.

    Once your application materials have been approved, you will need to submit an Enrollment Agreement and tuition payment to complete the enrollment process.

    Internet Access: All students are required to have access to a computer equipped with Internet access capabilities.

    Required Equipment: Students in the MFA in Digital Filmmaking program must have one from each category. Examples of each are listed.
    You may wish to check with retailers to inquire about educational pricing. Anaheim University can provide proof of enrollment upon request.

    Camera capable of shooting 1920x1080/24fps

      • DSLR: Canon 5DMII, 5DMIII, 7D, 60D, Rebel T2i, T3i, Nikon D800, D90, D3200, etc.;
      • Black Magic Pocket Camera;
      • Mirrorless: Panasonic GH2, Sony A7, etc.


      • Focal length: 24-105mm. (Often the DSRL and mirrorless cameras listed above come with a stock lens that will cover this range).

    Digital sound recorder with XLR inputs

      • Tascam DR-40;
      • Zoom H4N;
      • Rode shotgun microphone and XLR cable

    Basic Continuous Lighting Equipment

      • Inexpensive brands: Impact, Manfrotto, Genaray
      • More expensive: Arri lighting kits, Kino-flo

    Basic Non-linear editing software


    Entrance Examination:  There is no entrance examination required for admission to Anaheim University.

    Transfer Credits: Anaheim University will accept up to two graduate semester classes or 8 units awarded by another institution toward a Master of Fine Arts in Digital Filmmaking at Anaheim University. The entering student will be required to clearly demonstrate the equivalency of a transfer course through relevant documents (syllabus, catalog, course outline) and justify its acceptance through petition. No course will be considered for transfer with a grade lower than a “B” or its equivalent. Petitions are directed to the specific Dean for the affected program. There is a fee of $125 per unit of credit transferred, and the overall program cost will be adjusted to reflect credit for the approved class(es). All petitions for transfer credit must be submitted as part of the student’s initial application to the University. Credits awarded as part of another degree will not be accepted for transfer.

    Prior Experiential Credit: Anaheim University will not extend experiential credit to any student.

    We currently do not accept students who reside in Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota, and Oregon due to regulatory matters. For more information, please call our Administrative Director at 714-772-3330.

  • Online MFA in Digital Filmmaking Program Fees

    Affordable Pay-As-You-Learn System: Pay for only one course at a time, or receive a 10% discount on tuition by paying 100% of your program fees at the time you enroll.

    Application and Registration Fees
    Application Fee
    (Non-refundable after 5 days)
    $ 75
    Registration Fee
    (Non-refundable after 5 days)
    $ 100
    Per Course Fees
    Tuition Fee
    ($375 per credit x four credits)
    $1,500 / course taken
    Records Fee $ 200 / term
    Per Course Fee Total: $1,700
    Residential Session Fees
    Residential Fee
    (Room & Board not included)*
    $ 2200
    Additional Fees
    Transfer Credit Fee (optional) $ 125 / credit
    Thesis Fee** $ 450
    Original Transcript No cost
    Each Additional Transcript Copy (optional) $ 25
    End of Program Fees
    Graduation Fee $ 300
    Diploma No cost
    Replacement Diploma (optional) $ 100
    Degree Program Total $27,125+

    + Assumes completion in 15 terms. Maximum cost of program is $23,525 (records fees of $200 for each additional term up to 4 years from date of matriculation).

    * The residential fee does not include housing, meals or transportation; costs vary depending on the originating location of the student and the chosen accommodations. Anaheim University endeavors to find housing at a reasonable cost for students. For MFA students attending the residential, it is the students’ responsibility to ensure that they have taken care of proper visa procedures, if required.

    **The thesis course requires an additional one-time payment of $450. A thesis student will pay the $200 records fee for each term s/he is working on the thesis until it is submitted for examination (the above table includes the average thesis completion time of two terms).

    NOTE: The list of program fees does not include textbook fees. Textbooks average approximately $100 - $200 per course. Some courses require the submission of an original film project; production expenses are the responsibility of the student and are not included in the MFA program fees.

    Note: Anaheim University makes certain provisions in order to provide access to library resources and library services for all students enrolled directly through Anaheim University. However, students enrolled in Anaheim University’s online graduate degree programs are required to have an additional reserve fund to be used for the purchase of journals and research - materials that will aid them in their studies by providing information specific to their unique areas of interest and research - and to provide access to software and other resources that may help them in the completion of their studies. The research reserve fund is $1,500 for masters students to be used over the duration of their program. Students are not required to spend the entire research fund - only that amount necessary in order to carry out their research.

    The above itemizes all of the fees and charges for which the student is responsible. Our refund policy can be found in the Policies and Procedures section.

    Tuition may be paid on a course-by-course basis. Students who pay all program fees at one time are eligible for a 10% discount on tuition. Students may make payment by check, credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover), money order or bank transfer (the student is responsible for any transactions fees imposed by the institution). Payment is to be made in US dollars. To maintain active status, the records fee must be paid even if skipping a term.

    An extension may be granted by the Dean to students requiring more time to complete the program. Students will be required to pay the records fee for each term enrolled.

    Diplomatic and Military Service Discount: From January 1, 2006, those who have served their government through either diplomatic or military service may be eligible for a 10% discount.

    US Military:  Anaheim University's programs are approved for VA benefits.

  • iconhowtoapply2

    The steps below are general guidelines for joining a program at Anaheim University. Just complete the following steps and, if approved, become part of Anaheim University's global community within 2 weeks.


    Read thoroughly through the pages of our website and catalog


    Click here to submit your application online

    Click here to fill out a pdf version of the application and submit via email.



    The following documents are required for admission:

    • Application form
    • One recent passport-size color photograph
    • Official English language proficiency test score report if you are a non-native English speaker (mail original*)
    • Official transcripts.† (mail original*)
    • Official transcripts documenting at least one course in each of the following: accounting, finance and economics.†††† (mail original*)
    • documenting a minimum of 5 years of work or teaching experience in a relevant area of business††††
    • Resume ††
    • Brief Statement.††
    • Resume documenting a minimum of 4 years experience in some aspect of TESOL (teaching, teacher education or publishing).+++
    • An outline (1,000 words) of the possible research that the applicant envisions undertaking for the dissertation that demonstrates his/her research experience and abilities. +++
    • Three reference letters (on letterhead with contact information) attesting to personal and professional qualifications. One reference must be from each of the following:+++
      - A recent employer.
      - A TESOL professional who can attest to the applicant’s potential as a doctoral student.
      - A member of the academic faculty where the applicant completed his/her MA.

    †††† DBA Only
    ††† Ed.D TESOL Only
    †† MA TESOL or MFA Only
    † Not applicable to TESOL/TEYL Certificate Programs


    *scanned copies are accepted to expedite application process while waiting for originals to arrive in the mail


    Documents can be uploaded as part of the online application form, emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or posted in the mail to the address in Step 5. The complete list of Entrance Requirements for each program can be found here.





  • Akira Kurosawa was the youngest of seven children, born in Tokyo on 23 March 1910. He has said that the first important influence in his life was a teacher called Tachikawa, who was progressive in his emphasis on art education for the young. This was how the young Kurosawa was introduced to art and film. A talented painter, he enrolled in an art school that emphasized Western styles. Around this time he also joined an artists' group with a great enthusiasm for nineteenth-century Russian literature, with Dostoevsky a particular favourite. Another influence was Heigo, one of his brothers, who loved film and worked as a benshi, a film narrator/commentator for foreign silent films. His suicide deeply affected the director's sensibilities.

    In 1930 he responded to a newspaper advertisement for assistant directors at a film studio and began assisting Kajiro Yamamoto, who liked the fact he knew 'a lot about things other than movies'. Within five years he was writing scripts and directing whole sequences for Yamamoto films. In 1943 he made his debut as a director with Judo Saga (Sanshiro Sugata), with a magnificent martial-arts sequence in which two masters fight to the death in a wind-swept field, their flying limbs all but obscured by the tall swaying grasses. Consider the acclaim given to the similar fight sequences in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and it's obvious why in 1943 people began to talk about a young film-maker with a brilliant future.