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The Northwest Film Center follows the Portland State University weather closure policy. Visit the website or call 503-725-3000 x4.
Since its founding in 1972, the Northwest Film Center has been known for its faculty of working filmmakers, emphasis on hands-on learning, low faculty-student ratios, and flexible open curriculum. OUur classes and workshops operate within the Film Center’s media arts center environment–a unique and stimulating setting in which to learn. Visiting artists from around the world and the NW region screen their work in the Film Center’s year-round film exhibition program. Film festivals such as the Portland International Film Festival and Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival provide a window on the world of what’s current in independent filmmaking. There are related opportunities for equipment access and connecting with other emerging and practicing media artists.
No, the Northwest Film Center is open to all on a first-come, personal interest basis. The majority of our offerings are for first-time and beginning students.
Emerging artists and professionals in business, education, the arts, and other fields who want to integrate media into their work; career changers; K-12 educators; students enrolled in area colleges and universities; mature high school students; and community members with vocational interest in film.
Most of our students are from the Portland metro area, greater Northwestern Oregon, and Southwest Washington. Some have recently relocated to Portland, attracted by the opportunities provided by the Northwest Film Centerand growing local independent film community.
Leading independent filmmakers who devote a portion of their professional lives to teaching. Their documentary, experimental, and narrative films appear on public television and other broadcast venues, and in film festivals worldwide. To their teaching they bring a combination of vision and craft, professional practices in independent film, and a commitment to inspiring others through media literacy. Visiting artists from around the world also present seminars and workshops, and screen their work to the public as part of our year-round film exhibition program.
Four times per year. A 14-week Fall Term begins the third week of September and ends just before the holidays. A 14-week Winter Term begins the second week of January and ends at the end of April. A 10-week Spring Term begins the first week of April and concludes in mid-June. Classes for the 10-week Summer Term begin the last week of June and end in late August. We also offer one and two day workshops throughout the year.
Generally 3 months or more before a term begins. Registration opens 2 months before a term begins.
Most students take only one course at a time and combine their studies with employment or schooling elsewhere. Some take two at a time. For those who are employed or have other obligations, we do not recommend a load larger than two courses, as the outside time required for film production can be substantial.
Media production is time intensive. The outside time needed to fulfill class assignments varies depending on an individual’s motivation level. It is not unusual for students to spend an average of 6-8 hours each week in addition to class meeting time.
The Northwest Film Center is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization which is recognized widely for its more than 40 years of service to the Northwest community. Many of our courses are accredited by area colleges and universities through cooperative cross-registration agreements which include academic credit and college degree options.
Yes. Please schedule a tour with our Education Programs Manager via phone (503-221-1156) or email (
No. Formal admission to the School of Film is not required as the School operates on an open enrollment system. Courses are offered on a first-come, interest basis, until filled.
Enroll according to your special interest (e.g. screenwriting, film production, editing) in a course with a 100 level course number (which is listed with each individual class description).

Enroll according to your special interest (e.g. screenwriting, film production, editing) in a course with a 100 level course number (which is listed with each individual class description).

These include:

  • Art of Filmmaking I
  • Digital Video Editing
  • Screenwriting: Fundamentals

If you’re not sure what your interest is, Art of Filmmaking I is the core introductory course which provides the broadest overview of film production and aesthetics.

Generally, yes. Each individual class description indicates what is provided through the Equipment/Lab Fee for that particular class. You will check out needed equipment and purchase expendables from the Equipment Room, and/or sign up for editing lab time during facility hours according to your personal schedule. Some courses require that you provide your own video camera. These can be rented from the Equipment Room at a reasonable rate. For rental information, contact the Equipment Manager. Depending on the class, additional items such as a portable hard drive, videotapes, memory cards, film stock & processing, and/or textbooks are each student’s responsibility.
All of our core courses are hands-on or have a hands-on component. In most classes, students complete at least one short film. (Exceptions include: Screenwriting, Production Management, Directing Actors, and various film studies related courses).
It depends on the class. Students in Digital Video Editing and Screenwriting work solo. Students in Art of Filmmaking I and Art of Filmmaking II do both group and solo work. Students in Documentary Production work in groups. Most students find working in a small group and the experience of collaborating with class members to be very beneficial, as classmates can crew and grow their creative ideas together.
Consider a Hands-on Basics workshop, which teaches basic hands-on skills in a few hours. Also check out our one and two day workshops in specialty areas such as documentary or animation, and the opportunity to hear from notable visiting artists about their artistic process and career.
Send an email to describing any previous experience you feel qualifies you to successfully participate in the class.
Generally speaking, students under the age of 18 are not allowed to register for adult classes. In some instances, we will authorize high school students to participate in the adult program. If you are interested in discussing options for teens in adult classes, please contact the School of Film and we are happy to provide advising. You might also want to consider the classes and camps offered by the Young Filmmakers Program for Kids + Teens.
No, if you have confirmed Financial Aid through one of our cooperative university programs (Portland State University, Marylhurst University, or Pacific Northwest College of Art). Yes, if you are a non-credit student. For more information, please contact us at or 503-221-1156 x25.
Individual course descriptions indicate which costs are a student’s responsibility. Some courses require a textbook. Production courses that use our standard and/or HD video cameras require that students provide their own videotape (for SD), memory cards (for HD), and portable hard drive (both SD & HD). In Art of Filmmaking I, students should be prepared to purchase all three. In Art of Filmmaking II, only the memory cards and hard drive are required. For 16mm Cinematography and other classes that shoot on film, students are responsible for the cost of film stock and processing, which is estimated to be between $200-$300 depending on the project undertaken. Students may send film for processing independently or through the equipment room. Film stock, film editing supplies, and videotapes may be bought at the equipment room. Memory cards and portable hard drive must be purchased independently. Students seeking guidance for this purchase should contact the equipment room staff at 503-221-1156 x30 or via email at
Yes. Equipment/Lab fees directly contribute to the overall cost of managing, maintaining, securing, and upgrading the School’s equipment pool and classroom facilities. They are charged to all students at the rate listed with individual class descriptions.
No, as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, we cannot participate in these programs. However, the area colleges and universities with whom we offer Cooperative Degree Options offer financial aid to those who qualify.
Yes. The Northwest Film Center offers scholarship opportunities for adult students. There are also a few scholarship opportunities offered by other community resources for Film Center students. One of these is the Oregon Media Production Association. The Frank Hood Scholarship is available for assistance with our Media Arts Academy for Teens. We also offer tuition assistance to youth classes.
Yes, we provide tuition payment plans on a case-by-case basis. If you would like more information about tuition payment plans, please email
Cash, Check, Visa, Mastercard, American Express.
Notices of withdrawal must be made in writing and are effective upon receipt by the Registrar. Written notice may be made by e-mail, or in person at the Northwest Film Center (934 SW Salmon) during regular business hours. Telephone withdrawals are not accepted. Class instructors may not be notified in place of the Registrar. Withdrawal by US mail is not recommended due to possible delivery delays. E-mail received after 5 p.m., or on weekends, will be considered to have arrived the next business day. Absence at the first class meeting does not extend the withdrawal deadline, alter the refund amount or entitle the student to a tuition credit.
Refund Schedule is as follows for Adult Classes. For classes six sessions in length or more, five business days before first class an 85% refund is available; two to four business days before first class a 70% refund is available; one business day before first class a 50% refund is available; one to two business days after first class a 50% is still available; more than two business days after first class no refund is available. For classes one to five sessions in length, five business days before first class an 85% refund is available; two to four business days before first class a 50% refund is available; one business day before first class a refund is no longer available. Please note: the Refund and Withdrawal policy for our Young Filmmakers Summer Camp for Kids + Teens is different than our Adult Classes policy.
No. However, short term housing for workshops can be arranged directly through College Housing Northwest, which operates a reasonably priced dormitory (with optional meal plan) on the nearby Portland State University campus.
The Film Center regularly receives requests from area nonprofit organizations and local production companies who are seeking paid or volunteer student help on projects. These are posted on a bulletin board in our lobby. Many of them are excellent opportunities to gain experience. It is up to the individual student to seek them out.
We also sometimes hire former students as class assistants for classes and workshops offered to kids and teens through the Young Filmmakers Program.
We do not directly place students in internships or offer them for credit. However, many local production companies who are looking for interns post notices on our bulletin board and we encourage interested students to respond.
Absolutely! Seeing student work is a great way to learn about classes and faculty members, as well as what other students are up to. Student screenings generally take place in free public programs held at the Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium inside the Portland Art Museum. You are welcome to attend whether you are a current, past, or prospective student.
Yes. Those registered in a core class receive free admission to any regular screening during the term in which they are enrolled. They may also receive stand-by tickets to special events such as the Portland International Film Festival, held in February, and Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival, held in November.