BACHELOR OF ARTS IN FILM AND BROADCASTING
Our Degree in Filmmaking offers a well-rounded collegiate education in the Arts and Humanities, and Social and Natural Sciences, with a comprehensive study of, and practice in, the art and craft of filmmaking. During the three-year’s of study, each student will write, shoot, direct, and edit twelve film projects of increasing complexity. In addition, students will work in key crew positions on their classmates’ films.
Filmmaking graduates will complete the program with a solid academic foundation in the arts and sciences with an in-depth understanding of and experience in film production. They will enter the field with critical thinking and research skills developed in their academic classes as well as essential knowledge from the study of literature, art history, psychology, and philosophy. This specialized degree will prepare them to pursue their own paths in film and related fields as creative professionals.
Each student will make a short film of fifty seconds to one minute. This project emphasizes how the relationship of the subject to the camera creates drama. Students should tell a story that has a beginning, middle, and end.
Students should pay close attention to their choice of lenses, distances, and angles. Since students will tell their story in only one shot, they should be sure the shots they compose express as much as possible about the characters and their actions. It is also important for students to thoroughly rehearse their films for blocking in order to get the most out of their footage.
Students shoot a dramatic scene to create a feeling of continuous action. The scene unfolds utilizing a variety of shots (10-15) with a consistency of physical detail between shots intended to match (no jumps in time or action). This will challenge students to produce a clear, visual scene while maintaining the truthfulness of the moment. It is essential that the audience believes in the reality of the scene.
Students should not shoot without thoroughly pre-planning the following elements: script, storyboard, script breakdown, production schedule, location scouting, and floor plans.
THE PURSUIT/GROUP PACING EXERCISE
As a group, students shoot a “pursuit” story told in “real time.” Students use multiple shots to establish a constant flow of action and time out their shots during filming in order to achieve a dynamic sequence. Students should be sure to utilize the basic principles of screen direction, rhythm, time, and space.
This project will be created, designed, and produced as a group as a way to explore pacing through editing.
Students choose one short selection of music then plan and shoot this film of up to four minutes with the music in mind. Students use montage-style editing to move the story or idea forward. Students may not use multiple songs on this project or edit the selection of music that they choose.
Montage can be used to great effect in the compression of time and to create visual collisions or unexpected continuations between shots. In the editing room students should cut the images to work in concert with or in counterpoint to the music. Students should experiment with rhythm and pacing.
In addition to storyboards, students may use a still camera for pre-planning their coverage. It can help them in the choice of locations, distances and angles, lighting, and compositions.
THE NON-SYNC FILM
The goal of this project is to create a longer narrative film that incorporates all of the directing techniques learned thus far (Mise-en-scène, Continuity, Pacing, and Montage), along with sound effects and score, into a complete story of no more than 10 minutes.
It is best to keep the production to one or two locations with two to three characters. The goal is to tell a concise story that demonstrates students’ directing abilities. Please remember that less is often more and that the quality of a film is never determined by the amount of money spent. There is no substitution for creativity, ingenuity, resourcefulness, and above all, pre-production.
Students make a shot list, storyboard, and floor plan for their project, as well as scout locations. They create a production book with tabbed dividers including their script, floor plans, shot lists, shooting schedule, script breakdowns, and permits. Lastly, they must rehearse with their actors prior to shooting.
A student’s final film may have up to two tracks of sound that incorporates music, sound effects, and/or ambient sound where appropriate. However, voiceover is not allowed for this project. You will have an opportunity to screen your film in front of the class and receive notes from your instructors.
CHEKHOVIAN – TEXT & SUBTEXT
Students write and direct a scene without expository dialogue, exploring subtext through characters they have created for their upcoming Digital Dialogue Films.
The scene should be an original, stand-alone piece (written by students’ classmates, then redistributed); separate from their Digital Dialogue script, yet exploring the people, ideas, and story their Digital Dialogue Film will present. This is a great opportunity to workshop situations, scenarios, and backstories to get a better sense of who the characters are, and how they interact with the people and environment around them.
Students create a short scene with minimal dialogue and no more than three characters that have conflicting objectives, while presenting the viewer visually with a clear and distinct point of view.
Through experimenting with eyelines, framing, graphic control (composition and staging), and narrative control (often editing choices), the audience should have a clear understanding of which character’s story a student is trying to tell. Even though the project is called the POV, true POV shots are not necessary.
DIGITAL PRODUCTION WORKSHOPS
Filming a neutral dialogue scene with the class as assigned crew and instructor supervision, this scene should be complete with subtext, backstory, conflict, objectives, beats, actions, and be contained within one location.
THE DIGITAL DIALOGUE FILM
The Digital Dialogue Film will test a student’s abilities as a director to tell a clear and concise story in three acts, complete with an inciting incident, crisis and climax, and finally a resolution. Students write a script of up to ten pages in length and have up to 10 minutes of screen time to present their stories.
This project should serve as a culmination of students’ experiences throughout the semester. Successful projects will utilize many of the ideas and concepts explored over the past sixteen weeks.
COLLABORATION PRODUCTION WORKSHOP
All students must choose one of the six SSPW Scenes, present a director’s proposal (to the class, as well as a written 1-2 page document), and pitch their approach of the scene to their Directing and Camera instructors. During the pitch, students create excitement for the project by clearly defining their purpose/message, look/style, and logistics (where, when, how). After the pitching is completed, the instructors will green light the best proposals, as well as come up with a production schedule, assign crew positions, and assign cast. All students will be required to either direct, DP, or AD.
This project is the culmination of the filmmaker’s work from the prior three semesters. Each student’s goal is to produce a fully realized short film that demonstrates his or her own artistic vision and point of view. Students work with larger crews and with more time allotted for pre-production, production, and post-production than the previous projects. Students prepare for this project with the assistance of all classes in the third and fourth semesters, which are specifically designed to guide students through the preproduction of this project. Detailed production books are prepared and presented, then the students receive a “green light” from the faculty in order to check out for their productions. Each student can choose to shoot this film in one of three formats—high definition digital video, 16mm film, or 35mm film.
ADVANCED COMMERCIAL WORKSHOP
Putting into practice the skills learned in Director’s Craft III and Camera and Lighting III, students film spec commercials using the advanced equipment package. This experience gives students an arsenal of techniques and practical tools that they can use to successfully complete their final Thesis Project.
Students must film either a commercial in the Advanced Production Workshop or a music video later within the semester.
ADVANCED MUSIC VIDEOS
Students who do not direct a commercial will film a music video, which is subject to instructor approval. The video will be a demonstration of a student’s ability to integrate music and image through casting, locations, cinematography, and editing. Music videos typically include a performance element by a band or group of musicians, depending on the nature of the video. However, all videos must be centered around an original piece of music.
Students direct and edit a short film up to 30 minutes in length, and fill essential crew positions on short form films directed by fellow students.
The final capstone of the program, this film combines all of the skills learned thus far into a single Thesis Project. These final films function as a calling card for the Filmmakers, enabling them to demonstrate their creative vision and professional skills to the world of film festivals and the larger community of the entertainment industry. Filmed using the entire advanced equipment package that includes RED Epic Dragon cameras, HMI lighting, and industry standard dollies, these projects have the necessary equipment and longer production period to allow filmmakers to work on both a more detailed and nuanced level, and with a larger scope.