Chatham University

Chatham's accelerated, one-year MFA in Film & Digital Technology program is focused on advanced project work in a range of media production areas, principally film/video, interactivity, and the Web. It is designed to extend and develop students' experiences and knowledge in the field of media production and their understanding of creative and critical practice within the media industries.

Chatham's program is one of the few accelerated MFA programs in the United States that includes both film and digital technology. Students in this graduate program are encouraged to explore project work in a range of media production areas to explore the blurred boundaries between previously separate media production forms. Students will focus on developing their understanding of how emerging concepts such as interactivity, connectivity and convergence of emerging technologies such as DVD and interactive video are creating new creative possibilities, production processes, and delivery systems for more traditional forms of media production, such as film and video.


Production & Project Photos

About Filmmaking

  • "My primary service, as a professor in film and digital technology, is to share what I know not only about the tools of my art but also about the purposes to which those tools can be used. In a world where ubiquitous computing must vie with ubiquitous commercial message for everyone's attention, the capacity to see and hear critically in order to respond with questions and counter-messages serves the community, local and global, by keeping public dialogue dynamic and serves the student by allowing them to develop to their own highest potential."

    – prajna parasher, Program Director

  • "As technology constantly changes, teaching video production requires that we provide our students with a filmmaking vocabulary and foster in them a desire to continually and independently learn. While we give them the confidence to use the tools with proficiency, we must also reveal the possibilities of communicating with digital media; it is the content of the work that speaks to an audience, whether shot on a mobile device or the most advanced camera on the market."

    – Kristen Lauth Shaeffer

Interactive Student Work

Equipment & Resources

Students explore this hands-on with access to the latest audio-visual and digital equipment, including new Apple computers, digital editing and sound labs, a graphics production lab, and lighting studios. Other resources include:

  • camcorders
  • DSLR cameras
  • tripods
  • dollies
  • lighting equipment
  • audio mixers
  • audio field recorders
  • microphones


  • Andrew Halasz, MFA '08

    Andrew Halasz

    Andrew Halasz is a filmmaker and media artist originally from New Jersey. His works include films, web art, and mixed-media installations. Halasz worked as a sound designer/editor for motion pictures and television in New York City before moving to Pittsburgh, where he now teaches at Point Park University.
    In the news.

  • Christopher Nicholson, MFA '12

    Chris Nicholson

    Chris Nicholson is an award-winning independent filmmaker of "Jack Ale Lantern," "Ben Geyer's Geo Bee Challenge," and "Haunted States of America: The Carnegie Free Library." He is also a video production specialist and a video production instructor at Robert Morris University.
    Press (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
    Press (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • Laurie Smith, MFA '09

    Laurie Smith

    Laurie Smith owns and operates L76 Media Productions, a multimedia design and production studio that specializes in innovative commercial media and experimental video. She has produced commercial media for the Heinz Corporation, Point Park University, and Google and teaches at Lincoln Park Center for Performing Arts and the ArtReach program.

  • David Safin, MFA '13

    David Safin

    David Safin is the director of multimedia and a lecturer in communication at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. Recently, he received a bronze Telly Award for his work on the documentary "Fire and Ice: The Saint Vincent Fire of 1963." He has also produced several independent, low-budget movies and video shorts that have won awards from The Accolade Competition, International Videographer Awards, and Indy Mogul.

  • Emily Rathbone, MFA '08

    Emily Rathbone

    Emily Rathbone is Assistant Director of Volunteer & Communications at Carnegie Mellon University. Emily assists with the creation and coordination of all web communications generated by the Office of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving and coordinates message timing and content with other departments throughout University Advancement.

  • Brian Cottington, MFA '11

    Brian Cottington

    Brian Cottington's MFA thesis film "House of Oddities" was a culmination of many years of a filmmaking journey. Brian has made over 30 short films, each one a building block to something bigger and better. At Chatham Brian's emphasis was on learning the art of visual storytelling. Brian has had his films screened throughout Pittsburgh as part of Horror Realm, Most Wanted Fine Art, and RAW Art Exhibition.

  • Tim Roberts, MFA '11

    David Safin

    After receiving his MFA in Film and Digital Technology from Chatham, Tim went on to work as a Communications Specialist in the nonprofit world for 40 hours a week. Another 40 hours a week were reserved for freelance film and video work.

  • Brent Isaac, MFA '08

    Emily Rathbone

    Brent specializes in design and photography, with his expertise and experience including print design, website design, and artistic and commercial photography. He has exhibited at The Andy Warhol Museum, the Blue Ruin Gallery, and The Southside Works and worked with a number of Pittsburgh-based clients. Brent is currently teaching at The Art Institute and Point Park University.

  • Sam Turich, MFA '12

    Brian Cottington

    Sam Turich is an actor, director, and playwright who has worked in films, on television, and at theaters in New York and around the country. A short film he wrote and stars in, The Box, was an official selection of the Palm Beach International Film Festival and San Francisco Independent Film Festival. Sam currently teaches at Point Park University.

Alumni Recommend

  • "Since the Chatham MFA program is project based, I have been able to build a portfolio of work to show near future clients. It is a rewarding feeling when clients are impressed by the videos I have completed while in the program."

    – Natalie Vazquez, MFA '14

  • "My work at Chatham has had a direct impact on what I currently do and in many ways led me to my current work in TV program development and commercial projects. All in all, Chatham's MFA program pushed me to into worlds that separate me from my contemporaries."

    – Jesse Colaizzi, MFA '12

  • "My favorite part of the program has been the camaraderie with my classmates. We have become very close and share ideas all the time, but we also take the time to critique each other and we have become better filmmakers because of it."

    – Rory Mitrik, MFA '14


Several MFA student films have exposed sustainability and environmental issues. Below are trailers to three such films: The Ocean Breathes: A Story of Wind and Wind Energy in the Outer Banks, which explores wind power as a renewable energy source; Crude Awakening (Crude & Unusual Punishment?), which deals with the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, and The Light for Life, a film shot in Gambia that deals with sustainable sources of energy and human resources in a hospital.

The Ocean Breathes

View full film.

The Light For Life

Crude and Unusual Punishment


Program Event Participation

Pittsburgh 48 Hour Film Project

Each year, the Pittsburgh 48 Hour Film Project challenges filmmaking teams to produce four- to seven- minute films. Nearly 50 teams entered July 2014's competition, all vying for the "Best Film of the City" award or the Audience Award. Supporting the Project's mission to advance filmmaking and encourage creativity, Chatham sponsors the event, hosts the Kick Off and Drop Off events, and has donated the cash prize the past several years.

Silk Screen Film Festival

The Silk Screen Film Festival is one of the largest Asian-centric festivals in the U.S. Sponsored in part by Chatham University, the 2014 edition screened nearly 30 films, with Chatham Day featuring an exclusive screening of the film, "Norte, the End of History" (Philippines), previously screened at Cannes, NYFF and the Toronto International Film festival.

Three Rivers Film Festival

Sponsored in part by Chatham University, the Three Rivers Film Festival is one of the oldest and most highly anticipated film festivals in the region. The festival features foreign-language films, experimental works, American independents, shorts, documentaries, and local works.

Program Events Photos