The first year is the year of collaboration. Students acquire the concepts necessary to make a film, from writing screenplays to directing to stage direction to post-production. There are three major areas of focus in the first year: documentaries, graphic novel adaptations, and fiction.

Classes are taught in units that generally last one week each. In the first year, students are all taught the same units, each by 3 instructors in the same speciality (for example, 3 screenwriters or 3 editors) to keep a student-to-teacher ratio of 10 to 1.

First-year students are introduced to technique but are also expected to develop a personal point of view and artistic perspective.