Sample Listing of Elective Courses
Please note that not all electives are taught every summer. These are a sampling of electives that have been taught in past summers.
Working as a team, students will learn to write, design, block, rehearse and shoot an epic long take (a single, uninterrupted shot often lasting several minutes). This elective will allow students to explore the technical side of the production process and include hands-on experience with a professional camera motion stabilizing rig and wireless follow focus. Collaboration and creativity will be key as students simultaneously capture and choreograph entire scenes without cutting away from the action.
The long-take shoots were some of my favorite on-set experiences. It was a fantastic learning experience working with such advanced film equipment; this class helped me bridge the gap between screenwriting and production.”
TV Writer’s Room
Alright Stop. Collaborate. And Listen. These are the basic rules of the TV writer’s staff. What’s it like in a writer’s room? In this elective we’ll break down the basics of the showrunner – writer relationship and discuss crucial topics in TV writing like: ‘table breaking’, TV structures, ‘checker boarding’, show ‘engines’, cliffhangers, teases and tags, irreconcilable conflicts and much, much more. Confused? Then you should take this class.
The Story of a Space
Many stories start with a script, but often the greatest stories are discovered once the little “red light” turns on. In this elective, students will be challenged to find stories hidden in the spaces around them through video, sound, and the edit. Working in small groups, each team we’ll investigate, record, and manipulate a unique space of their discovery. By the end of the course, each team will edit a short documentary that creates a story from the observable and often alterable world around them.
Director’s Notebook/Script to Screen
Director’s Notebook: This two-part elective will mainly deal with the process of pre-production. In the first half, we will talk about director’s notebook. What do the great directors like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson and others carry around in their director’s notebooks? Learn how to collect your ideas and structure your thoughts about the film you are working on. Study and create a shot list, a lined script, storyboard, floorplan, and other tools necessary for your own director’s notebook.
This elective is intended primarily for directors (but is open to anyone) and is designed to prepare them for the production of their final projects. Students will be provided with necessary tools for directing their short films. These include a shot list, lined script, visual references, notes for DP and actors, storyboards and floorplans. At the end of the course, each student is required to give an in-class presentation about his/her final project, using a director’s notebook.
Script to Screen: You have a script. Now what? Script to Screen gives you tools to see the words on the page realized on the screen using professional methods that breakdown shooting logistics.
In this workshop, we will investigate how improvisation can be used to explore and develop elements of character, intention, environment, action and story. Through the use of various games and exercises we will build stronger connections to all elements of the imagined and created world.
So … you have an idea for an hour-long TV series. That’s great! Now all you gotta do is turn that idea into a pilot. This elective will help. While we discuss TV basics and tricks of the trade, we will watch and discuss the first episodes of hour-long dramas, dissecting them, finding out what makes them work, how they succeed and how they fail. Students will then take what they’ve learned and apply that to their own ideas, assembling an outline for the pilot and even writing the teaser and first act.
Commercials & Voiceovers
Commercials and voiceovers are another exciting way to make a living as an actor. Both require a different skill set and energy level than film acting. In this acting class you will be given a variety of commercial copy to practice on-camera with direction and feedback as well as voice over scripts to be practiced and recorded in the sound booth. We will break down the formula of a commercial, investigate storyboards, find the tone and humor, as well as practice improvisation, partner work, and spokesperson copy. This will be a fun and challenging class to add to your actor toolbox.
The intention of the class is to give students a fun introduction to the world of graphics and visual effects. We’ll use Adobe After Effects to explore effects such as muzzle flashes, green screen keying, Harry Potter wand action, and animated titles. This is an introductory class, so no experience required.
Infinite imagination? Limited budget? Students in this laboratory-style class will explore using low budget materials to create high concept products. Explore the infinite possibilities of the imagination: cardboard, fabric, papier mâché, or found objects can be used to create visual elements for any story. Please bring images and ideas to the first class so that time can be budgeted and materials can be acquired.
Breaking The Rules
A discussion class, on the history and theory that examines cinematic waves that broke the conventions and masterful directors who broke the rules, thus redefining and re-establishing new cinematic conventions. Close attention will be given to the German Expressionism of the 1930s, the French New Wave of the 1960s, the Italian Neo-realism of the 1960s, the American New Wave of the 1970s, the Scandinavian Dogma of the 1990s and today’s American and international cinema.This is a discussion class that relies on discovering and discussing different types of cinemas, and how each and every one can learn from other filmmakers.
Digital Photography 101
This course is an introduction to digital photography where students will learn photography fundamentals and DSLR camera operation. This course will provide the student with basic aesthetic principles as well as a range of practical photographic techniques useful for obtaining greater creative control and improved image quality.
Character & Dialogue
Want your scripts to stand out? Though often neglected, Character and Dialogue are the most visible hallmarks of strong writing. In this elective, we will work to discover YOUR INDIVIDUAL STYLE by learning to create memorable characters with specific voices and crafting one of the most challenging scenes you’ll ever have to write.
Directing Actors is a hands-on workshop for directors and actors to learn how to work together to create a truthful performance. The class is open to directors, actors and screenwriters and it studies the different techniques of actor/director communication. From action verb to emotional action, directors will learn how to break down a dramatic scene in acting beats, and how to direct the actor. Each student will pick at least one scene, rehearse with actors, and present it to the class for critique on their directing. In this class, directors and screenwriters can act as well.
“In a world…music swells…moments are short…action is accented with titles…actors stare intensely…speaking only in fragments…and stuff…blows up…” Working in teams, students will write, shoot, edit, and star in their own faux movie trailer. This elective allows students to explore the technical side of the production AND post-production process as they learn to incorporate VFX, SFX, and practical effects into their projects. This class includes hands-on experience with sound effects libraries, green screen compositing, and After Effects software.
The art of cinematography – an exploration of the cinematic look. With a combination of theoretical study and hands-on exercises, students build a rich understanding of a cinematographer’s most important skill-sets – light, color, cameras, formats, lenses, frame composition and shooting practices. There is a strong emphasis on student cinematographers’ preparation for their own film projects shot during the film program. Note: You don’t need any prior experience in cinematography for this course.
Part I: ADVANCED EDITING: In advanced editing, students will learn how to edit for dramatic effect by breaking scenes down into “editing beats.” Students will be exposed to different editing styles such as editing for genre (difference between comedy, horror, drama…), but also learn effective storytelling techniques such as intercutting, jump-cutting, montage editing & time manipulation. In the final class, we will talk about creative sound design and effective use of music in film.
Part II: COLOR GRADING: The color grade is an essential part of creating a cinematic experience. In this course you will learn how to apply the right look for your film projects. With a small theoretical part, this course will be hands-on. We will work with the projects you shoot during the film program.
This class will be very physical. We will start by learning basic hand to hand combat such as punches, slaps, kicks, slips, and falls. We will learn to safely choreograph violence for the camera ultimately leading up to a full action sequence. Violence reveals a tremendous amount about character and must always move a story forward.This is an acting class, a writing class, and a production class. ALL ARE WELCOME and must participate in all capacities. We will all learn the physical techniques, write the action sequence, play the characters within it, and participate in the filming.