Arts Academy Boarding High School: Motion Picture Arts Major

The Motion Picture Arts program provides students with a progressive interdisciplinary education through writing, critical studies, and hands-on curriculum. Students in the motion picture arts program benefit from challenging college-preparatory academics and a comprehensive experience in cinema.

  • Screenwriting workshops develop storytelling skills and help students understand the narrative structure of a film.
  • Production classes explore directing, editing, cinematography, lighting, music and sound.
  • Film history and critical analysis encourage filmmakers to investigate the medium of film, its evolution, and the rapidly changing roles of technology. 
  • Electives from other disciplines, such as acting and photography, give students a deeper understanding of the components of motion pictures.

Students graduate with enriched opportunities to write, produce, direct and edit projects. Student work is presented twice a year.

The faculty of the motion picture arts program bring a wide range of experience and expertise in screenwriting, production and direction. Members of the faculty have produced documentary series and television programs, and written for television. Film professionals are regular guests of the program, bringing additional expertise in sound production, lighting, scoring for films, acting and more.

How to Apply

  1. Prepare the materials listed here: portfolio requirements
  2. Complete the online application
  3. Submit portfolio materials in the Academy admissions community

You may begin at Interlochen Arts Academy in ninth grade, or transfer in as a sophomore, junior, senior, or post-graduate.

Candidates are required to submit their portfolios digitally as a part of the application process. We highly encourage all applicants to plan a campus visit when they can meet with the artistic director, tour DeRoy Center for Film Studies and observe classes in session. If you are ready to submit your portfolio at the time of your visit, please upload your work online prior to your visit. If a visit experience is not possible, portfolios must be submitted online in order for an admission decision to be made. Please do not send original works as they will not be returned to the applicant.

Our admission counselors are here to help you in any way they can. If you wish to talk with someone about Academy programs, the application process, a campus visit, portfolio presentations, or other topics, they will be happy to work with you. Simply call 800.681.5912 or 231.276.7472 or email

Resources and Facilities

The Aaron and Helen L. DeRoy Center for Film Studies was designed and built to house the motion picture arts program. It is the only facility of its kind in the country, dedicated to film studies and production at the high school level. At every step of their education, students in the motion picture arts program have access to professional-grade facilities and equipment.

  • Classrooms and four editing suites are equipped with the latest digital editing software, networked by fiber optic to a 32 terabyte SAN Server for streaming video throughout the facility.
  • A soundstage provides space for constructing and shooting on sets, recording audio and instruction. 
  • A 200-seat viewing space features HD projection for film-screenings, presentations and peer critiques.
  • Canon DSLR cameras and lenses with Sennheiser microphones and Tascam recorders for location sound.
  • Comprehensive ARRI lighting packages including: ARRI tungstens and ARRI Locaster LEDs with grip hardware.
  • A doorway dolly with track and 12-foot jib arm.
  • A production truck, operated by Academy faculty and staff, allows students to transport equipment for shoots at remote locations.

360-degree virtual tour

Recent Guests

  • Benh Zeitlin, Oscar-nominated director of Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Steve Saklad, Production Designer of the Muppets and Up in the Air
  • Adrian Belic, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary, Genghis Blues and Beyond the Call
  • Ken Burns, documentary filmmaker, Jazz
  • Jeff Daniels, musician, actor, playwright
  • Andrew Davis, director of The Fugitive and Holes
  • Andrea Nix Fine, director of Oscar-nominated film, War Dance
  • James Gartner, director of Glory Road
  • Joel McNeely, composer, Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
  • Alan Menken, Academy Award-winning film composer, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Enchanted, many others
  • Logan and Noah Miller, directors, Touching Home
  • Michael Moore, Oscar Winning Docamentarist
  • Dennis Muren, Senior Visual Effects Supervisor, ILM
  • Daniel Pearl A.S.C., Cinematographer
  • Gordon Radley, former president of Lucasfilm, Ltd.
  • Ivan Raimi, screenwriter – Spiderman 3, Darkman, Army of Darkness
  • Jay Rabinowitz, editor – Requiem for a Dream
  • Jeff Wozniak, senior digital artist for Industrial Light and Magic and Look Pictures

Student Awards and Honors

  • Christina Xing, Best Drama for her film "Goldfish," and finalist for Best Overall Film, Best Direction and the Female Rising Star Award - All American High School Film Festival
  • Shane Bagwell and Oliver Howell - Finalists for Best Music Video for Singer Songwriter with song "Lifetime" by Connor McDonald - All American High School Film Festival
  • Seong Hwan Lee, Best Score for Anna Tubbs' capstone "No Story Time" - All American High School Film Festival
  • Anna Kotyza and John Chigas, Music Video Finalists for "Girls Don't Cry Wolf (by Madison Douglas)" - All American High School Film Festival
  • Cat Andre, Silver Medal in the Scholastic Awards
  • Kira Bursky, Cannes Film Festival's Short Film Corner; Laguna Film Festival Jury Award for Best Youth Film and the Audience Award for Best Youth Film for "Tree Hugger"; Best Academic Film Award at the 7th Annual Made-in-Michigan Film Festival for "Girly"
  • Colin Campbell, NFFTY Film Fest in Seattle
  • Jesse Einhorn-Johnson, YoungArts finalist
  • Nicolas Weinfeld, Cannes Film Festival Pavilion and YoungArts honorable mention
  • Jeffrey Kasanoff, YoungArts merit and National Gold Medal Scholastics
  • Richie Siegel, Honorable Mention in the Scholastic Awards
  • Aaron Jaffe, recipient of the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant, which included the use of a Panaflex camera for his senior thesis project
  • Chad Engel received an Honorable Mention, National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts
  • Tyler Trykowksi received first place at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival in the high school category
  • Sarah Nimeh received first place in the Michigan Youth Film Competition

College Success

The motion picture arts program was established in 2005. In a short period of time, its students and graduates have established themselves in film festivals and at leading university film programs including:

  • Art Center College of Design
  • California Institute of the Arts
  • Emerson
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • New York University
  • Northwestern University
  • University of Southern California
  • Loyola Marymount
  • Princeton University

Image Gallery



Michael Mittelstaedt

Director and Instructor of Motion Picture Arts, Interlochen Arts Academy; Instructor of Digital Filmmaking, Interlochen Arts Camp

M.F.A., Film Production, Ohio University; B.A. double majors, Psychology and Spanish Language and Literature, Michigan State University.

Andrew Hiss

Instructor of Motion Picture Arts, Interlochen Arts Academy

M.F.A., Film, Columbia University; B.A., English and Art History, Tufts University

Lesley Alicia Tye

Instructor of Motion Picture Arts and Creative Writing, Interlochen Arts Academy

M.F.A., Creative Writing with emphasis in Screenwriting, National University; B.F.A., Filmic Writing, University of Southern California; Interlochen Arts Academy alumna