FOCAL – Foundation for professional training in cinema and audiovisual media


FOCAL, founded in 1990, is an umbrella organisation which aims to develop and promote creative, technical and entrepreneurial skills among professionals in the areas of film, audiovisual arts and new media.

Our further training programme encompasses every element in the production process: screenwriting and project development, production, markets and rights, directing, grip-work, photography, sound and lighting, multimedia and new technologies, post-production, animation, distribution and exhibition as well as film criticism and theory.

FOCAL's activities are intended for professionals in all branches of the audiovisual arts. The programme of our seminars comes out four times a year.


FOCAL is for professionals: FOCAL provides the opportunity for practical further education and training. Its programme is conceived and designed to complement and enhance a practice-oriented, life-long learning process, and not to replace basic education.

FOCAL promotes contacts and networking: Courses, forum events and seminars provide the opportunity for meaningful and useful encounters outside the usual pressured working environment. The result is a dynamic exchange among a wide variety of professional groups and individuals.

FOCAL operates nationally and internationally: The quality of the programme and the lecturers attracts participants from around the world. Successful collaboration with European institutions and partners in the profession plays an important role in the networking between Swiss film and audiovisual professionals and in the integration of Swiss film into the European scene.

FOCAL emphasises diversity: Its programme is targeted at all areas in the field of film and audiovisual art. The material and methods that FOCAL promotes are not devoted to any particular school or trend.

FOCAL stands for quality: FOCAL is built upon 25 years of experience. 20 000 participants have attended over 1000 courses, seminars and other events to date. Both the participants and the lecturers have come to appreciate the programme offered and the Foundation's flexible structure: Many of them regularly attend the FOCAL seminars or return as lecturers.

FOCAL is in a constant state of development: The foundation is a living organisation and regularly evaluates its goals and its programmes in order to best serve the changes that are constantly taking place in the cinematic and audiovisual industry.

Purpose and Objectives

The FOCAL Foundation has been given the task of strengthening film culture. FOCAL develops, organises and conducts a professional further training programme in close collaboration with and specifically for the cinematic and audiovisual industry.

FOCAL supports and promotes working professionals in the development of their talents and skills. FOCAL contributes to industry competition by helping its professionals to develop both culturally and economically, by maintaining a high level of quality and by safeguarding its independence. FOCAL is incorporated into the Swiss government's efforts to promote film, and as such, supports these efforts through its educational programmes.

The Foundation is devoted to building up a culture of professional training and to consolidating ‘know-how' within the film industry. Of particular interest to FOCAL are sustainability, the transfer of knowledge and the exchange across several generations. These objectives can be achieved through practical programmes that are directly relevant to the demands of professional life and that are based on the background experience of those engaged in the film and audiovisual industry.

Although the Foundation is an institution which provides further education and training for active professionals, it works in close co-operation and exchange with basic training institutions (specialised colleges, universities, etc.).

Programmes and Content

The Foundation's programme of activities is designed to accommodate the needs formulated by industry associations, professional groups, individuals and institutions. The programme of activities is developed on the basis of this input and specifically tailored to individual areas of the profession.

The major focus is on creative, technical and entrepreneurial know-how, but the courses also seek to include theoretical and analytical discussions about the Seventh Art and all its related forms.

FOCAL closely observes international trends in the media and the marketplace, takes up current topics of interest and passes them on as stimuli to the industry. The Foundation provides the industry with access to information, gives it orientation and creates the framework in which ideas can take shape.

FOCAL sees its role as a Workshop of the Future for film and audiovisual production by critically appraising accepted models, thought and work methodology and by offering possible alternatives. In doing so, FOCAL seeks to consciously influence the development of the audiovisual scene in Switzerland.

Teaching Methods

The teaching methods are adapted to the specific requirements of the target groups and the programme of activities incorporates a wide diversity of forms of learning and exchange – such as day courses, long-term courses, seminars, conferences, events and information workshops

Besides the conferences, which are unique in examining both current and future audiovisual matters, an important part of the Foundation's programme consists of seminars, which are conceived as cyclical and can be repeated in a continuously evolving form or can be combined into a modular curriculum package. All the activities offered are coordinated with each other. FOCAL makes every effort to integrate the various programme elements through networked thinking and inter-disciplinary statements.

FOCAL also operates information and discussion platforms on the Internet and provides personal consulting.

Target Groups

The programme is designed for all active professionals in the film, television and audiovisual industry and other related areas (new media, etc.). The programme is also directed at film school graduates who would like to expand their education and increase their contacts within the industry, and at decision-makers in governing bodies that deal with the audiovisual industry. The courses are accessible to anyone who fulfils the necessary professional requirements.

FOCAL is particularly interested in making a long-lasting contribution to the development of skills and in promoting new young talent.

Organisation and Implementation of the Courses

In order to guarantee the greatest possible proximity to "real-world" practical experience, FOCAL employs highly qualified professionals from at home and abroad as lecturers. They are assisted by organizers who are familiar with the needs of their peers. Through a methodical didactic educational programme, they can support and advise the lecturers whenever necessary. In this way the organizers have the opportunity to actively participate in influencing FOCAL's policies and philosophy for further education and professional training, which is then represented to the public.

Course participants are handed out scripts and dossiers, which give them the opportunity to expand and strengthen what they have learned. The secretariat takes care of the administrative aspects of the courses

Assessment and Performance Evaluation

In order to examine its performance, maintain its dynamism and constructively query its programme of activities, the FOCAL Foundation regularly evaluates its experiences. In so doing, it works to continually improve the quality of its programme and to adapt to the changing needs of the industry. This review takes place within the institution itself and in collaboration with external specialists. Periodical "brainstorming" sessions and "think tanks" are devoted to the basic issues of further education and professional training and to the tasks of the Foundation.

Organisation and Infrastructure

FOCAL is a service organisation for the industry. It is headed by a Foundation Council, comprising representatives from institutions in the audiovisual industry. In this way FOCAL ensures the industry of an institutionalised, democratic access to programme guidelines and budgeting.

Accomplished professionals on the Foundation's board form a link to professional associations. The administrative staff is small, professional and efficient. In order to maintain flexibility, FOCAL has no classrooms of its own and thus no technical infrastructure.

Material and Spiritual

FOCAL's activities are non-profit making. FOCAL is committed to adjusting the prices for its training programme to accommodate the financial circumstances of its target groups, who are mainly freelance. The Foundation therefore relies on the support of public funding and is financed by a wide variety of sources. The Federal Office of Culture and the Cantons (states) thus assume part of their responsibility for supporting culture. The Federal Office of Communication subsidises the Foundation within the framework of its efforts to promote audiovisual production, especially for television.

Another key financing partner is the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG SSR), which also sends its employees to courses held by FOCAL.

In addition to state funding, FOCAL's financial resources come from the MEDIA Programs of the European Union, from private foundations, participation fees as well as proceeds from co-productions with Swiss and foreign partners, and some seminars get sponsored in the form of equipment.

Our partners are named under

Public Relations

FOCAL actively informs film professionals and other interested parties of its events and activities. The cultural and artistic significance of its work is stressed. The general public is informed of the activities of the Foundation through the media, in order to publicise a positive and dynamic image of the Swiss audiovisual industry, and in particular of the professionals and creators it is made of.

FOCAL operates a website ( that reports comprehensively on its further education and professional training programmes in the areas of film, audiovisual arts and multimedia. The site also provides an opportunity for international networking and the exchange of information among professionals in different branches of the industry.

1991 – 2018: FOCAL in figures



Number of events


Number of training days


Number of training days x number of participants


Number of outside seminar staff members


Number of participants


Male participants


Female participants


Participants between the ages of 30 and 50


Swiss-German participants


Swiss-French Participants


Foreign participants


Swiss-Italian participants


Participants from Cantons with major cities
(ZH, VD, GE, BE, BS)


Breakdown of participants by profession


Directors (fictional and documentary)










Projectionists, distributors, cinema owners/managers


Animation film makers


Film critics


Musicians, composers


Breakdown of the training days by realm of activity




Direction: fiction film and documentaries








Management of movie theatres & distribution




Animated film / Cartoon


Educational training programme


Film critic / History of media and cinema / Theory


Participants' satisfaction level regarding:


1. the seminar's usefulness for their professional development


Excellent to good


Excellent to satisfactory


2. their expectations of the seminar


Excellent to good


Excellent to satisfactory


Among our guest speakers

Alexandre Adabashyan, Enzo d'Alo, Jean-François Amiguet, Nag Ansorge, Roshanak Behesht Nedjad, Alan Berliner, Renato Berta, Don Bohlinger, Sophie Bourdon, Sabine Boss, Freddy Buache, Suso Cecchi d'Amico, Michel Chion, Eric Collins, Pio Corradi, Keith Cunningham, Ken Dancyger, Frank Daniel, André Delvaux, Richard Dindo, Philippe Djian, John Durie, Klaus Doldinger, Patrick Doyle, Andreas Dresen, Joëlle van Effenterre, Klaus Emmerich, Peter Entell, Jacques Fansten, Harun Farocki, Christopher Fettes, Giles Foreman, Cherolyn C. Franklin, Christian Frei, Julian Friedmann, Peter-Christian Fueter, Bruno Ganz, Tom Garvin, Hans W. Geissendörfer, Denis Gheerbrant, Ilann Girard, Sabine Gisiger, Marcel Gisler, Corinna Glaus, Bob Godfrey, Frédéric Gonseth, Claude Goretta, Jean Goudier, Hans-Dieter Grabe, Jean-Claude Grumberg, Tonino Guerra, Frédéric et Samuel Guillaume, Martin Hagemann, Terry Hayes, Pierre Hébert, Marcel Hoehn, Agnieszka Holland, Heddy Honigmann, David Howard, John Howe, Slawomir Idziak, Markus Imboden, Markus Imhoof, Otar Iosseliani, Antoine Jaccoud, Stefan Jäger, Krystyna Janda, Georg Janett, Agnès Jaoui, Jaime Jasso, Inga Karetnikova, Gabriela Kasperski, Stephanie Kaye, Michel Khleifi, Ahmadou Khourouma, Fred van der Kooij, Wolfgang Kohlhaase, Xavier Koller, Lutz Konermann, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Cedomir Kolar, Danny Krausz, Peter Krieg, Peter Kubelka, Ivo Kummer, Richard Leacok, Joëlle Levie, Dani Levy, Peter Liechti, Patrick Lindenmaier, Michael Lonsdale, Rolf Lyssy, Derek Malcom, Wojciech Marczewski, Robert McKee, Pierre-Alain Meier, Ursula Meier, Fernand Melgar, Claude Miller, Hanspeter Müller-Drossaart, Fredi M. Murer, Dorothea Neukirchen, Angelika Niermann, Daniel Olbrychski, Roberto Olla, Dennis Palumbo, André Pinkus, Bill Plympton, Bretislav Pojar, Denis Rabaglia, Michael Radford, Richard Reeves, Michel Reilhac, Pierre-Paul Renders, Stuart Renfrew, Philippe Ros, Michaela Rosen, Serge Rosenzweig, Dick Ross, Mogens Rukov, David Russell, Antonio Saura, Samir, Pietro Scalia, James Schamus, Christoph Schaub, Maximilian Schell, Tom Schlesinger, Volker Schlöndorff, Heidrun Schleef, Theres Scherer, Katriel Schory, Paul Schrader, Zachary Schwartz, Werner Swiss Schweizer, Georges Schwitzgebel, Alexander J. Seiler, Alexander Sokurow, Carlos Sorin, Inga von Staden, Bernhard Stampfer, Ueli Steiger, Witold Stok, Isao Takahata, Alain Tanner, Jani Thiltges, Margarethe von Trotta, Gilles Tschudi, Colin Vaines, Matthias Varga von Kibéd, Carlo Varini, Andres Veiel, Michel Voïta, Raymond Vouillamoz, Andrzej Wajda, Regis Wargnier, Marc Wehrlin, Judith Weston, Jurgen Wolff, Romed Wyder, Yves Yersin, Krzysztof Zanussi, Edward Zebrowski, Siegfried Zielinski, Cooky Ziesche…

FOCAL carries out its programs in collaboration with many partners, forming an immediately useful network for participants (excerpt)

ACE – Ateliers du Cinéma Européen, artanim, the Moving Foundation,, Association des speakerines et speakers professionnels (VPS / ASP), Association suisse des scénaristes et réalisateurs de films (ARF / FDS), ATC – Audiovisual Training Coalition, Balimage, CANAL+, Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée (CNC), Cinéforom, Cinémathèque suisse, Cinésuisse, Danish Film Institute, DrehbuchWerkstatt München, EAVE — European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs, éQuinoxe Europe e.V., Erich Pommer Institut, Ernst Göhner Stiftung, EURIMAGES, European Broadcasting Union, European Film Academy, European Producers Club, FANTOCHE, Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles – Service général de l’audiovisuel et des multimédias, Festival Cinémas Tous Ecrans, Festival del Film Locarno, FFA – Federal German Board, Film Fund Luxembourg, Filmakademie Baden Württemberg, Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, Fonction :Cinéma, Fondation SUISA, Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg – Kulturbehörde, Fumetto – Internationales Comix-Festival Luzern, Groupe Auteurs Réalisateurs Producteurs (GARP), Internationale Film Fernseh & Musik Akademie (iffma), IG Unabhängige Schweizer Filmproduzenten, Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur, Junge Talente, Kreativgesellschaft Hamburg, Kulturstiftung des Landes Schleswig-Holstein, La Maison des Scénaristes, L’arc, Loterie Romande, MEDIA Desk Suisse, MEDIA Training — a programme of the European Union, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Medienstiftung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, Migros Kulturprozent, Nederlands Film Institute, NIFF – Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival, nordmedia, Norwegian Film Institute, Österreichisches Filminstitut, Paul Schiller Stiftung, Polish Film Institute, ProCinema, Pro Helvetia, RATS im Kulturmarkt, RSI – Radiotelevisione svizzera, RTS – Radio Télévision Suisse, Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques (SACD, France, Belgique et Canada), Société suisse des auteurs (SSA), SODEC – Société de développement des entreprises culturelles du Québéc, Solothurner Filmtage, SRF — Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen, Société Suisse de Radiodiffusion et Télévision SRG SSR, Syndicat Suisse Film et Vidéo (SSFV), Swedish Film Institute, Swiss Films, Swiss Film Producers’ Association SFP, Swissperform, Téléfilm Canada, Teleproduktions – Fonds GmbH, Verein Zürich für den Film, VFF – Verwertungsgesellschaft der Film- und Fernsehproduzenten, Visions du Réel – Doc Outlook-International Market, Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds, Wajda Studio / Wajda School, Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI), Zürcher Filmstiftung, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste…