In this course we will consider the collaborative nature of filmmaking and how its various crafts combine to tell stories with perhaps the greatest mass appeal of any artistic medium. We will explore dramatic narrative structure, mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing and film genres as they have been used and advanced in the history of cinema. In addition to regular class meetings, attendance at weekly film showings is required. This course includes an introduction to film production where students are expected to write, direct and film short projects in collaboration with their classmates. This course is ideal for first-year students and is required for the major. No prerequisite. Generally offered once a year.
This course will consider how we use dramatic narrative theory based on the ideas presented in "The Poetics" by Aristotle and Joseph Campbell's explanation of the Monomyth theory in film. The course is designed for students to learn to write short screenplays and present staged versions of them with their classmates as actors. These screenplays will not be filmed. The focus of the course is on pre-production in film and on understanding structure and cinematic writing. Students will develop strategies on how to work with actors to develop a performance. Eliminating the challenges of learning the use of film cameras or sound equipment will allow students to develop the skills of planning shots and staging action and crafting a performance. Students will read selected screenplays to analyze how structural models work. This course can substitute the requirement of DRAM 111 for film majors. No prerequisite.
This class is about finding your voice as a filmmaker. In this sense, the class is not just a writing class, it also is a film history class and a directing class. In many successful shorts, it is difficult to separate great writing from great directing. The goal of this course is to write a great short. In order to accomplish this, students will spend half of their time watching short films to learn what makes them successful. This counts toward the film production and screenwriting requirements for the major. Prerequisite: DRAM 111 or FILM 111. Generally offered every other year.
This course will explore what is particular about writing for the screen. Through weekly writing assignments, students examine the form and structure of the three-act feature film. Each student will work toward an outline of a feature screenplay and write the first 30 pages. This is a workshop class so students must always be prepared and ready to participate. This counts toward the production and screenwriting requirements for the major. Prerequisite: DRAM 111 or FILM 111. Generally offered every year.
This course explores cinematography as an art of visual storytelling. The cinematographer plays a critical role in shaping the light and composition of an image and capturing that image for the screen. Students will investigate the theory and practice of this unique visual language and its power as a narrative element in cinema. Students will study films by accomplished cinematographers and engage in the work of the cinematographer through a series of projects. This course will be taught at the Wright Center in Mt. Vernon. This satisfies one of the three required production classes for the major. Prerequisite: FILM 111. Generally offered every year.
Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder are not only considered to be the greatest American comedy writer-directors because of how funny their movies are. They understood that the best way for mainstream films to deal with serious subjects was not to make dark, heavy films, but to broach these subjects while making the audience laugh. In this course, students will analyze how these delicately balanced films were constructed to allow the filmmakers to explore the darker side of life and how filmmakers pushed socially acceptable boundaries while still making commercially viable films for a mainstream audience. This counts toward the film genre course requirement for the major. Prerequisite: FILM 111. Generally offered every third year.
Guns. Horses. Saloons. Whiskey. Are cowboy movies really worth studying? Can movies starring John Wayne and Clint Eastwood be sublime works of art? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding yes. Westerns are among the most visual of all film genres and some of the finest directors of classic American cinema specialized in them. We will examine films by John Ford, Anthony Mann, Howard Hawks, Sam Peckinpah and Clint Eastwood and will learn how to discern the differences in these filmmakers' works. In this sense, this seminar will be an exploration of film visual style. This counts toward the film genre course requirement for the major. Prerequisite: FILM 111. Generally offered every third year.
Because the director has, perhaps, the most comprehensive impact on a film, this course considers films directed by African-American people. The representation of African Americans throughout history has been perverted using visual imagery, and modern images in film and television are not exempt. However, African Americans have been contributing since the beginning of film history to the imaging or re-imaging of the culture and its people. This course will look at these contributions and the images of African Americans they help to create, as well as how these representations have changed over time. This counts toward the film genre course requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Generally offered every third year.
Beginning with F. W. Murnau's "Nosferatu" (1922), we will trace the evolution of the horror film over the last century, giving focus to several seminal films, including (but not limited to) Tod Browning's "Freaks," James Whale's "Bride of Frankenstein," George Romero's "Night of The Living Dead," William Friedkin's "The Exorcist," Dario Argento's "Suspiria" and John Carpenter's "Halloween." There also will be a creative writing component. Students will be required to pitch, synopsize and further develop an idea for an original horror film. This counts toward the film genre course requirement for the major. Permission of instructor required. No prerequisite. Generally offered every third year.
This course will focus on the understanding of cinema through the practical application of pre-production and post-production techniques. Students will learn the art of telling a story on screen by taking on the roles of the major positions in a film production, including producer, director, actor, cinematographer and editor. This course will be taught at the Wright Center in Mt. Vernon. This counts toward the production course requirement for the major. Prerequisite: DRAM 111 or FILM 111. Generally offered every year.
In this course, students will learn the practice of documentary film-making. Professionals in the world of documentary film will visit and present. This course is intended to be a fusion of practical film-making skills through the use of digital video technology and a deeper understanding of the nature of documentary through exposure to existing films and contact with professional filmmakers. The course is designed for the upper-level student. This course will be taught at the Wright Center in Mt. Vernon. This counts toward the production course requirement for the major. Prerequisite: FILM 261. Generally offered every third year.
Film editors are problem solvers, improvisers, collaborators and above all, storytellers. Editors are sometimes even credited as writers on the films they edit, but what do they actually do? What happens to the footage once you capture it into the camera? Where does it go? How does raw media become a finished film? In this course we will explore the technical and intellectual journey that is the post production process from the recording and organization of media on set, to setting up an editing project in Adobe Premiere, to editing and storytelling techniques and theory of both narrative fiction and documentary films. We all also spend time talking about the finishing process and what happens to the film after completing the final cut but before delivery to festivals or distributors. We will introduce basic elements of color correcting in DaVinci Resolve, the industry standard software for coloring and then also sound mixing in Pro Tools. Students will shoot several small projects that we all then work with in Adobe Premiere, the industry standard software for editing short films. We will read articles and books by renowned editors from all different genres of film, past and contemporary. We will watch a variety of short and feature length films as we explore both narrative fiction and documentary editing styles. This counts toward one of the three required production classes for the major. Prerequisite: FILM 111.
This is a course in screen acting. Students will explore the unique and peculiar nature of acting in front of a camera. What demands does screen acting have that are different from performances on stage? How do screen actors tell a coherent story given the disruptive process of filming a narrative? Students will explore the nature and technique of acting on camera by performing scenes from existing screenplays with classmates, and the scenes will be recorded. We will watch these recordings in class and critique students' work. Students will be graded on their preparation and performance. Students will engage with several visiting artists who work in the film and television industry. This counts toward the production course requirement for the major. Prerequisite: DRAM 111. Generally offered every third year.
So you've produced your first indie film, written a play that's gotten some attention, or paid your dues on a television writing staff. Now production companies are calling and asking if you've got an idea for a pilot. What makes for a good television show? How does television function differently from film or theater? How do the dramatic structures overlap? How do you develop your idea into a pitch that a network will buy? How do you get from there to getting a show on the air? Primarily focusing on hour-longs and half-hour single-cam shows, students will take an idea from pitch to treatment to pilot script. We'll watch and/or read and discuss the pilots of shows like "Transparent," "Girls," "Homeland," "House of Cards," "Friday Night Lights," "Flight of the Conchords" and "The Office." This counts toward the production and one screenwriting course requirements for the major. Submission of a short writing sample and permission of instructor required. Prerequisite: sophomore standing and DRAM 111 or FILM 111. Generally offered every third year.
In this course, students will learn the process of how a development executive and/or producer works with a writer to develop material. The class has two components: students will 1) endeavor to finish the screenplays they worked on in FILM 231 and 2) work on three scripts currently in development at Hollywood studios and explore how to improve them. This counts toward the film production and screenwriting requirements for the major. Prerequisite: FILM 111 and 231. Generally offered every other year.
This course is designed primarily for students majoring in film, though it is not limited to senior majors. It is also open to non-majors with a significant interest in film directing who have taken many film courses offered in the department. Students will make a series of very short films and develop a film project of approximately 10–15 minutes in length. This process will involve a deeper understanding of writing, budgeting, producing, cinematography and editing of short films through class exercises. This course will be taught at the Wright Center in Mt. Vernon. This counts toward the production course requirement for the major. Prerequisite: FILM 261 or permission of instructor. Generally offered every year.
This seminar is for senior majors in film. Through this course, senior majors will prepare for the completion of their Senior Capstone. Students will present their project proposals, develop these projects through collaboration with peers, critique each other's work and utilize feedback to improve their individual projects. Students will be expected to provide project schedules and weekly status updates and to meet regular guideposts for project completion. This course will culminate in public presentations of the senior projects and oral examinations by faculty in the department. One semester of this course is required for the major but it may be taken twice for credit.
Individual study in film is reserved for students exploring a topic not regularly offered in the department's curriculum. Typically, the course will carry 0.5 units of credit. To enroll in an individual study, a student must identify a member of the department willing to direct the project and, in consultation with him or her, write a proposal. The department chair must approve the proposal. The one- to two-page proposal should include a preliminary bibliography and/or set of specific problems, goals and tasks for the course, outline a schedule of reading and/or writing assignments or creative undertakings, and describe the methods of assessment (e.g., a journal to be submitted for evaluation weekly, a feature length screenplay due at semester's end, with drafts due at given intervals, etc). The student also should briefly describe prior course work, which qualifies him or her for this independent project. At a minimum, the department expects the student to meet regularly with the instructor one hour per week and to submit an amount of work equivalent to that required in 300-level film courses. Students are urged to begin discussion of their proposed individual study the semester before they hope to enroll so that they can devise a proposal and seek departmental approval before the deadline.