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From Service to Storyteller

Film Basic is the entry level course for the Veterans Institute for Film and Media development program. This fully sponsored overview of the production process provides participants with unparalleled access to an innovative curriculum taught by an engaged faculty, staff, and working professionals. We combine theoretical education with hands-on experience using the same equipment, techniques, and workflows used by industry professionals. Following Film Basic, veterans have multiple options to continue their education and training, either under the VIFM umbrella or their own direction. Regardless of the path students choose, VIFM remains involved with veterans who complete Film Basic and continues to support them as they transition into industry careers.

Film Basic

  • Monday – Thursday, 4 hours/night (6-10pm), 12 weeks, 12 people maximum
  • Curriculum developed and taught by scholars; industry professionals with backgrounds in film production, news, broadcasting, and social media; and award-winning documentary and narrative filmmakers.
  • Classes provide an overview of all phases of production and industry studies, standards, and practices.
  • Students apply knowledge and create media through hand’s on assignments.
  • Partnerships with local academic institutions and industry organizations provide additional opportunities for studies, workshops, and degree programs, or students can apply for one of VIFM’s additional offerings: “Paid Apprenticeship” or “Five By.”

Paid Apprenticeship

  • Students are selected for participation based on their interests, readiness, and level of expertise.
  • Participants are paid for 80 hours of work on a local production, giving them a chance to explore different crew positions and set interactions.
  • Internship opportunities are plentiful…the Dallas-Fort Worth region is the nation’s fifth largest media market.
  • Students spend time in at least one of the following market segments:
    • Digital Cinema
    • Broadcast/Television News
    • Corporate & Industrial Film
    • Private/Independent Sector
  • Entertainment professionals, award-winning directors and producers, and experienced production personnel serve as mentors and coaches for participants.
  • This offering exposes students to the variety of ways media is used across industries and gives them real-life experience in a production environment.

Five By

  • 5 people, 5 weeks, 5 genres
  • This is VIFM’s newest, most advanced, and intensive learning opportunity.
  • Veterans can apply for Five By following Film Basic; placement in Five By is dependent on aptitude, quality of work, and commitment.
  • Participants work as a team to produce five stories in five different genres, working under the guidance of an industry professional expert in the specific production style.
  • This intensive course is designed to give students experience in developing concepts through different media to create the most compelling story and reach their intended audience.
  • Following Five By, students should be confident in their abilities to contribute to a production, have a clear understanding of their strengths, and understand all aspects of visual storytelling.
Important Dates


  • The next session is tentatively scheduled to begin the evening of February 1, 2021.
  • Online applications will be accepted until December 31, 2020.
  • Interviews for this session will occur online via Zoom the week of January 4, 2021 and applicants will be notified of their status the week of January 18, 2021.
Year-Round Support
  • VIFM offers participation in all Dallas Film programming and extracurricular activities, such as workshops, filmmaking challenges, and guest speakers.
  • We provide veterans multiple opportunities to work on independent productions.
  • Participants can compete in international and national film festivals as well as other storytelling competitions.
  • Quality student work will screen at the Dallas International Film Festival and North Texas Veterans Festival (NTX VetFest), among others.
  • Completed, compelling short films created by our veterans will be featured in ShortsTV programming.
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