The 2021 SESSiON related to the Foundation Year IS NOW




This programme is for students passionate about all genres of film and moving image (fiction, documentary, experimental movie, institutional film, TV programme, video clip and advertising). Although training in directing – including personal scriptwriting – remains central, this Bachelor course also provides extensive multidisciplinary skills in the various filmmaking professions (scriptwriter, director of photography, editor, sound recordist, script supervisor…).

Options: Direction – Screenplay – Photography – Edition – Script Supervison – Sound

Rewatch the live information session dedicated to the Bachelor Cinema

Learning objectives


First year

We give you the keys to:

  • Acquire basic artistic and technical notions related to writing (script) and directing personal and collective fiction and documentary films.
  • Deepen the technical tools related to image (light, camera, editing, etc.) and sound (set, sound editing, Pro-Tools software, etc.) as well as to the direction of actors/actresses.
  • Learn about film theory (writing logbooks, sequence analysis, courses in Film History & Aesthetics, History of Art, Photography, Digital Culture, Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Contemporary Photography, exhibitions and publications).
  • Benefit from numerous masterclasses with personalities from the world of cinema and other disciplines.
  • Actively participate in the Clermont-Ferrand Festival and in a workshop organised on site with students from theatre conservatories.
Filming Actors workshop with Monia Chokri et Josée Deshaies
Film workshop with Agnès Godard
Commissioned film FFFH – «J'sais pas quoi faire...» – Yan Ciszewski
Lecture by Rachel Lang at ECAL
Rencontres du 7e art Lausanen at ECAL
Interview workshop – Alice Denyse Matthey-Jonais
Masterclass by Léa Seydoux
ECAL Instagram Live with Jean-Luc Godard
Masterclass by Gus Van Sant

Second year

From the second year onwards, students specialise in one of six possible options: Direction – Screenplay – Photography – Edition – Script Supervison – Sound

Direction option

  • Direct two short films (fiction and documentary) during the academic year, assisted by screenwriters/directors and editors.
  • Get familiar with scriptwriting, directing actors and actresses, composing film crews, safety onset, creating budgets, shooting authorisations, music rights, editing (Avid, Premiere, Pro-tools), and creating film credits.
  • Develop your writing through theoretical workshops (writing portraits during masterclasses, writing a research paper on a free subject).
  • Participate in festivals (one-week stay at Visions du Réel/Nyon, as well as at Cinéma du Réel/Paris, screening of the semester’s documentary films at the Centre Culturel Suisse/Paris.

There is a specific two-year (2nd and 3rd year) programme for each option, which includes:

Image option

  • Participate as chief operator, camera assistant, electrician, stagehand for fiction films, documentaries and graduation films (BA and MA).
  • Use specific cameras, locations, cutting techniques, films, etc.
  • Learn about the various image-related trades (camera assistant, point workshop, lights & electricity, machinery, security, etc.).

Screenplay option

  • Write and direct short fiction and documentary films.
  • Write a feature-length fiction film over two years and get accustomed to writing exercises (short synopses, notes of intent, sequencing, treatments, characterisation of characters, non-dialogued continuity, dialogued scenes, etc.).
  • Shoot a sequence of the planned feature film.

Edition option

  • Edit short fiction films (BA and MA).
  • Direct and edit short documentaries.
  • Learn about the job of assistant editor on feature films (project preparation, derushing, synchronisation, workflow, etc.).
  • Use advanced software (Avid, Premiere, Pro tools and Da Vinci).
  • Take part in a one-month exchange at La Fémis in Paris (editing section).

Script Supervison option

  • Work as a script supervisor on feature films, documentaries and graduation films (BA and MA).
  • Immerse yourself in workshops on reading cards, timing, chronology, continuity and counting, technical cutting and floor plan, match cuts, learn to work with other trades (HMC, decor, accessories, etc.).
  • Collaborate on graduation films with students from La Fémis’ Script Supervison Department.

Sound option

  • Work as a sound engineer on fiction and graduation films (BA and MA).
  • Make a documentary film (from writing to sound editing).
  • Learn specific techniques (perched sound recording, HF, ambience, mix range exercises, etc.).
  • Develop a freesound creation.
  • Learn how to use ECAL’s sound studio and how to prepare projects before mixing in the Auditorium.

For all options:

  • Complete internships on feature films via filming and/or editing and/or observation courses in collaboration with RTS/RRS (script and editing).
  • Enhance your knowledge through theory courses (internship diaries, writing portraits during masterclasses and interviews according to the chosen disciplines, writing a research paper on a free subject [2nd year]; in the 3rd year writing a major dissertation dealing with a particular aspect of the major).
  • Participate in festivals (one-week stay at Visions du Réel/Nyon, as well as at Cinéma du Réel/Paris, Angers and Belfort [for scriptwriters]).
Make-up workshop with Sonia Geneux
Light workshop with Marianne Lamour
Film workshop with Agnès Godard
Light workshop with Marianne Lamour
Documentary workshop – Matias Carlier
Fiction workshop – Ben Khalifa
Light workshop with Marianne Lamour
Light workshop with Marianne Lamour

Third year

The whole year is devoted to the making of the graduation film (free work, fiction, documentary film, experimental film, etc.).

  • Write the script for the graduation film – a short film (over 6 months).
  • Pitch the project to producers.
  • Draw up a professional production file (including budget) to be submitted to film authorities (Cinéforom, OFC, RTS, etc.).
  • Set up a film crew with professionals from each profession.
  • Monitor the production process with a director’s assistant.
  • Participate in an actor-director workshop and do castings
  • Shoot the film.
  • Edit the film in collaboration with students from la Fémis’ Editing Department.
  • Mix the film at La Fémis with students from the Mixing Department
  • Learn about film distribution (television, festivals, etc.).
  • Travel abroad to meet a filmmaker and make films on location (for example Tokyo/Kore-Eda).
Light workshop with Marianne Lamour
Shooting diploma film "Impériale" by Coline Confort
Diploma film – Coline Confort
Summer University in Tokyo – Nora Longatti, Olivia Frey & Rodrigo Munoz
Diploma film – Nikita Merlini
Shooting diploma film "Montana 1977" by Kimyan Flückiger (Camera Aurel Ganz)
Various awards for "Still Working" by Julietta Korbel
Screening of the diploma films and vernissage of the book "ECAL Cinéma 2019" at the Cinéma Capitole, Lausanne

carreer opportunities

Film director of documentaries or fiction, Director of photography, Editor, Sound mixer, Sound engineer, Scriptwriter, Producer, Teacher…


Raphael Dubach
Elie Grappe
Pauline Jeanbourquin
Rob-Jan Lacombe
Patrick Muroni
Malika Pellicioli
Joséphine Pittet


Bachelor and Master Cinema:
Fabrice Aragno, Kaveh Bakhtiari, Claude Barras, Fulvio Bernasconi, Jean-Stéphane Bron, Frédéric Choffat, Blaise Harrison, Marie-Eve Hildbrand, Nathan Hofstetter, Frédéric Mermoud, Klaudia Reynicke, Lila Ribi, Christophe M. Saber, Rafael Sommerhalder, Karine Sudan, Mathieu Urfer....


Lionel Baier

Rachel Noël

Production and distribution
Jean-Guillaume Sonnier

Post-production assistants
Mykyta Kryvosheiev
Jules Pourchet
Antonio Albanese
Lionel Baier
François Bovier
Rachel Noël
Benoît Rossel
Richard Szotyori
Visiting lecturers
Maud Alpi, Paris
Séverine Barde
Blaise Bauquis
Renato Berta
Julien Bouissoux
Mikael Buch
Thomas Cailley
Etienne Curchod
Raphaël Chevènement
Thierry de Peretti
Josée Deshaies
Laurence Ferreira Barbosa
Pauline Gaillard
Hippolyte Girardot
Agnès Godard
Stéphane Goël
Maryam Goormaghtigh
Alain Gomis
Yann Gonzalez
Laurent Guido
Blaise Harrison
Gwénola Héaulmes
Marie-Eve Hildbrand
Denis Jutzeler
Marianne Lamour
Rachel Lang
Laurence Larre
Laurent Larrivière
Olivier Loustau
Gaëlle Macé
Shinozaki Makoto
Ursula Meier
Pascale Mons
François Musy
Julie Naas
Jeanne Oberson
Mariana Otero
Antoine Russbach
Emmanuel Salinger
Anne Seibel
Raphaël Sohier
Karine Sudan
Olivier Touche
Tamaki Tsuchida
Camille Vidal-Naquet
Katharina Wyss
Jean-Jacques Annaud
Darren Aronofsky
Suzanne Bier
Joel Coen
Monia Chokri
Clemens Klopfenstein
Thierry Frémaux
Ko-ji Fukada
Guillaume Gallienne
Jean-Luc Godard
Michel Hazanavicius
Werner Herzog
Agnès Jaoui
Hirokazu Kore-eda
Barbet Schroeder
Léa Seydoux
Claire Simon
Jeremy Thomas
Gus Van Sant
Thomas Vinterberg
Frederick Wiseman
Andrei Zviaguintsev


Ecolage annuel (matériel inclus)
CHF 2 425.–

Language: French

Length: 6 semesters

Credits: 180 ECTS

Qualification issued
Bachelor of Arts HES-SO in Visual Communication, major in Film

Frequently asked questions


I'm preparing my portfolio for the entrance exam for the Bachelor's degree in Cinema. For the presentation of my films or other moving images, am I entitled to 3 minutes in total or per film?

The limit is fixed at 3 minutes per film.

What are the qualifications required to register for the admission exam in Bachelor?


  • Maturity certificate or Professional Maturity certificate (vocational diploma) or certificate from a recognised three-year school of general education (ECG), each to be accompanied by a General Federal Certificate of Vocational Education (CFC) in the field of desired studies (list available on the ECAL website)
  • Maturity certificate plus at least one year attested vocational activity in the field of studies (except for BA Fine Art) or a Foundation Year successfully completed at the ECAL (or another recognised higher-education establishment of art and design)
  • Professional Maturity certificate with a General Federal Certificate of Vocational Education (CFC) in a profession unrelated to the field of studies plus at least one year attested vocational activity in the field of studies except for BA Fine Art) or a Foundation Year successfully completed at the ECAL (or another recognised higher-education establishment of art and design)
  • Specialized Maturity certificate in art and design (MSAD)
  • Equivalent foreign certificate*

* ECAL evaluates title's equivalences. This procedure being relatively long, a request of examination must be submitted by email to ECAL Secretariat until 17 February 2021 the latest. Request of evaluation submitted after the above mentionned date will not be processed.

Am I required to do an internship after obtaining my baccalaureate / high school diploma, in order to enrol in a Bachelor programme? What conditions apply?

In addition to the requisite diploma, registration for the Bachelor in Visual Communication (Graphic Design / Photography / Media & Interaction Design / Film Studies) or the Bachelor in Industrial and Product Design requires either:
- at least 36 weeks (or nine months) of full-time certified experience in the world of work related to the chosen field;
- or successful completion of the ECAL Foundation Year or of a recognized bridge year for the colleges of higher education in art*.

Professional experience or the Foundation Year diploma are recommended but not compulsory to register for the Bachelor in Fine Arts entrance exam.

* For example, in Switzerland, the Art & Design Foundation Year of CFP Arts Genève, the Art & Design Foundation Year of the édhéa (Sierre) or the Art and Design Foundation Year of Bienne/Bern. Don’t hesitate to contact the ECAL Secretariat for additional information.

Can ECAL help me find an internship allowing me to enrol in a Bachelor programme?

No. ECAL offers a foundation year, but does not help applicants find an internship to register for a Bachelor programme.

Is it possible to join the Bachelor programme directly in 2nd or 3rd year?

In some cases, recognition of prior studies may be granted in the form of ECTS credits, depending on the applicant’s previous education. ECAL management makes a decision to this effect only after the admissions procedure has been completed and on receipt of an artistic application providing information on all previous studies (type, field, skills, courses, credits, grades, etc.).

Can I register for the entrance exam for a Bachelor programme even if I don’t have the requisite diplomas or certificates?

Yes. ECAL may exceptionally accept applicants demonstrating extraordinary artistic talent in a Bachelor programme even if they do not meet the admission requirements. However, applicants must first send the ECAL Director a written waiver request.

NB: This concerns in particular applicants who have not completed any training and who have no diploma.  Applicants who are under 25 at the time of the application and who have a CFC or a diploma from an upper secondary specialised school (école de culture générale, ECG) must first obtain a professional or specialised baccalaureate before registering for a Bachelor entrance exam.

What does a waiver request comprise?

Applicants requesting a waiver submit an application comprising a letter of motivation, a CV and a portfolio. If the request is accepted, they can register for the entrance exam in the field they have chosen.

Can I register to do the entrance exam for the Foundation Year and for an ECAL Bachelor programme at the same time?

No. If in doubt, please contact the ECAL Secretariat.

Can I register for two ECAL Bachelor entrance exams at the same time?

No. You are allowed to register for only one Bachelor entrance exam at a time, as it is not possible to do the practical and/or theoretical tests for two at the same time. Don’t hesitate to contact the ECAL Secretariat if you have any questions.


What are the languages of instruction?

Courses and workshops are in French in the Foundation Year and at Bachelor level (some Bachelor workshops are in English). Master / MAS programmes are for the most part bilingual (English/French). Fluency in French is therefore essential for the Foundation Year and Bachelor programmes. The same applies to English at least for Master programmes.

Do I need a language certificate to enrol in an ECAL course?

Yes. For the Foundation Year and Bachelor programmes, non-French-speaking applicants who have not attended school in Switzerland must be able to attest that they are proficient in French at the B2 level of the European Language Portfolio. The B2 level is required on registration.

Generally speaking, language proficiency is also checked by the juries during the entrance exam.


Does ECAL have a residence?

ECAL has neither a residence nor a campus, but it can, to a limited extent, help students looking for accommodation. As the housing market in the Lake Geneva area is relatively tight, students are advised to make arrangements well in advance.

Can ECAL act as a guarantor on a lease signed by a foreign student?

No, not at the moment.

Practical informations

Due to a serious lack of availability on the local market, it is very difficult to find an accomodation in Lausanne therefore you should look well in advance to find a suitable accommodation. Please keep in mind that you may be required to provide a
3 month safety deposit.

The following solutions are available:

Furnished studios or flat-sharing for students in Lausanne

Rooms to rent

Scholarships / tuition

I am a foreign student. Can I obtain a scholarship in Switzerland?

Educational assistance (grants or student loans) is awarded by the cantons and is intended for Swiss students (nationals, foreign permanent residents and persons with refugee status). It is not available to foreign citizens residing in Switzerland for the purposes of study only. However, the Swiss Confederation offers excellence scholarships to foreign students, researchers and artists for a period of study or research in Switzerland.

I am resident abroad. Will my tuition at ECAL be higher than for a student resident in Switzerland?

Except for the Foundation Year, where the course fees are determined by the student’s domicile, tuition is the same for all students in the same Bachelor, Master or MAS programme.


Does ECAL offer evening or summer courses? Can I sign up just for certain specific courses or workshops?

No, not at the moment.

Can I have a tour of ECAL?

En dehors des manifestations organisées par l’ECAL (expositions diverses, Open Day, etc.), aucune visite n’est autorisée à titre individuel. Des visites de groupes peuvent être organisées, mais planifiées suffisamment à l’avance. Le cas échéant, merci de contacter directement le Secrétariat de l’ECAL, à l’adresse

My company wishes to hire an ECAL student as an intern or employee. What do I have to do?

Please send the ECAL Secretariat, at, an advert in A4 PDF format containing all the information on the internship or job. The advert will be published on the ECAL intranet. Interested students will contact the advertiser directly.