- Make short, convincing motion picture stories in fiction and non-fiction.
- Make non-narrative or experimental work with some deftness and force.
- Make work that shows they have synthesized what they have learned about light, photography, sound design, working with actors, scriptwriting, research, and editing.
- Evaluate the component pieces of a work of narrative or experimental film, whether their own or others' and speak ably about their creative process.
- Communicate competently and confidently about how their work is situated inside contemporary filmmaking.
|Humanities & Sciences||30|
|Total Credits for a BFA Degree in Film||120|
|First Year Foundation|
|FN 123||Interdisciplinary Studio I||6|
|100-level Studio Electives||3|
|FN 133||Critical & Contextual Studies I *||3|
|HS 111||Writing and Analysis I||3|
|FN 124||Interdisciplinary Studio II||6|
|FN 134||Critical & Contextual Studies II||3|
|100-level Studio Electives||3|
|HS 112||Writing and Analysis II||3|
|FM 220||Essential Tools for Filmmakers||2|
|FM 225||Introduction to Experimental Film||3|
|FM 227||Introduction to Narrative Film||4|
|FM 233||Film Language||3|
|FM 226||Writing for the Screen||3|
|FM Studio Elective||3|
|FM Critical Studies Elective||3|
|FM 361||Complex Narrative||3|
|FM Studio Elective||3|
|FM Critical Studies Elective||3|
|FM 319||Professional Practices||3|
|FM Studio Elective||6|
|FM Critical Studies Elective||3|
|FM Studio Elective||9|
|FM 423 Senior Thesis||3|
|FM Critical Studies Elective||3|
|FM Studio Elective||6|
Counts towards H&S requirements
Lyall Bush Film Department Chair
MA Rutgers University
BA Concordia University
Brant B.C. Campbell Instructor
BA University of Denver
Robinson Devor Instructor
BFA Southern Methodist University
Craig Downing Instructor
MS University of North Texas
BA University of Texas at Austin
Charles Mudede Instructor
BA Fairhaven College at Western Washington University
Charles Poekel Instructor
BA St. Lawrence University
Phan Tran Instructor
MFA University of Southern California
BA Seattle University
Charles Scheaffer Instructor
PhD University of Minnesota
MA University of Minnesota
BA University of Washington
Foundations Media Labs are 15-week studio courses that introduce students to the basic visual language of a specific media or genre, focusing on skill building and an investigation of the formal elements and principles, in combination with appropriate concepts and theories. Students develop work specific to the materials and lab chosen. The course consists of lecture, discussion, practical demos, studio practice and research. Ongoing formative review takes place in group/individual tutorials, work in progress reviews, seminars, and critiques. A span of subjects is offered-- six in the Fall, six in the Spring.
The Video Art Media Lab is an introductory first-year course in video art and new media, both distinct and influential art forms in the contemporary art world. You will learn the basics of DSLR video and sound acquisition, and build skills in non-linear image and sound editing through in-class exercises, assignments, and the completion of several projects. Supplementing practical knowledge and technique, you will study the conceptual, cultural, and historical dimensions of experimental single and multi-channel video art and installation from 1969 to the present and explore how the moving images creates meaning and shapes experience in contemporary art.
This fundamentals course introduces students to the basic tools of filmmaking and gives them hands-on time each week to practice using them. Students will learn to operate cameras manually, set lights up for interviews and dramatic scenes, record sound, and edit films using non-linear editing software. They will also be introduced to ideas that govern each: the way the frame informs aspects of story; the way lenses can offer insights into character; the way wild recording shapes spaces; the way light points to internal landscapes. In addition to the practice, students will read texts that inform them about the mechanics and technical aspects of their tools.
This course introduces students to storytelling and style in film and provides them with practical opportunities to develop their narrative voices in several films. Over the semester students will learn the rules of the ‘continuity’ system as well as the value of discovering alternatives to it. Classes include conceptual and practical training in framing and composition, manual use of the camera, lighting, sound recording, editing, working with actors, and ideation. Students will explore shots first, how they are cut together, and from that foundation will begin to explore other elements of style in film. They will make work individually and then together; by the end of the semester each will have a basic understanding of the rules of cinema and will have discovered some of the aesthetic power that comes from sometimes breaking them.
This course introduces students to the fundamentals of visual storytelling in non-fiction or documentary film and provides them with practical opportunities to develop their voices in the form. Students will be introduced to, and be given opportunities to make work in, several kinds of non-fiction film, including cinema verité, the personal essay, the montage film, the interview-focused film, and the performative film. This course will coordinate with FM 221 on developing introductory skills in lighting, sound recording, manual use of the camera, editing, interviewing subjects, ideation, and writing. Students will complete skill-building exercise each weekwhile making several short films over the course of the semester.
In this course students will form different production teams to make short narrative films. Each student will participate in producing three films, and each will rotate among roles. Students will learn more deeply how to break down scripts for image and psychological impact, how to scout locations (and use sets), how to direct actors for the screen, how to work in creative teams, make shot lists, and edit and deliver final films. Some scripts developed in Writing the Screen Story may be produced in this course.
In his delightfully elliptical and strange book, Notes on the Cinematographer, the filmmaker Robert Bresson writes, “An old thing becomes new if you detach it from what usually surrounds it.” In this course, students are asked to see the movies, new again by making motion pictures outside of the constraints of narrative. We begin with the elements of cinema, with image and sound, and with the assumption that the self is still a mystery worth investigating. Over the semester students will make films from smartphones, from still images, from dreams and unconsciously developed material, and they will produce many short films that accept another of Bresson’s precepts: “What is for the eye must not duplicate what is for the ear.”
This class introduces students to writing stories for the screen and gives them opportunities to write their own. Students will learn screenplay formatting as they study the structures of classic screenplays, and films made from those screenplays. Over the course fo the semester they will write several scripts that demonstrate their growing understanding of classic Aristotelian ideas of the three-act structure, character development, dialogue, and alternative narrative forms. Assignments will include adaptation from fiction, genre writing and original narrative.
This course serves as an introduction to the art of film narrative and includes instruction on, and theories about, fiction and non-fiction. Students will learn to make narrative films of both kinds and will learn some of the ways the two forms can come together to make new innovative wholes. To do this they will learn how to analyze scripts for production and to understand the flow of production into post-production. The course further engages students in research for non-fiction subjects and in examining some exemplary recent films that blend fact and fiction, always with a focus on truths that are revealed in time.
This is a film history seminar on the evolution of film language from the Etienne-Jules Marey’s scientific experiments in the 1880s to the Lumière Brothers in 1895 to Citizen Kane. In this course students study how films evolved from static, one-shot set-ups to the language we know as the continuity system: establishing shots, parallel action, close-ups, sophisticated camera movements, lighting, the introduction of sound, the revolution in deep focus photography, and how the Surrealists along with Sergei Eisenstein changed the way film and filmmakers saw the possibilities in the cut. Each Critical and Contextual Studies course is designed as a Liberal Arts course which is one of the keys to furnishing the imaginations of the next generation of filmmakers.
This course is a semester-long survey of films from major producers of films in the world, including France, Japan, Italy, the U.S., Hungary, Poland, England, Sweden, and China. This seminar introduces students to the further evolution of film language, the development of Modernism in cinema, and the considerable achievements of important filmmakers, among them Jean-Luc Godard, Michelangelo Antonioni, Yasujiro Ozu, Akira Kurosawa, Chantal Akerman, Federico Fellini, Roman Polanski, Ingmar Bergman, and Kar-wai Wong. Throughout, we will read critical texts and perform close and careful readings of the films. Students will learn how to see films made from sometimes radically subjective points of view, and how to describe their effects and how they make meanings.
This course focuses on collaborative film production, with students learning the different creative roles in producing a completed film. Students will form small production teams for each module and learn more deeply how to analyze scripts for story, how to make short films in creative teams, and precisely what the contribution of key members in film production is. Several short films will be made, with students changing among roles. At faculty discretion, scripts written in another course may be in consideration for which films to be produced. Note: students will be expected to have a basic understanding of the filmmaking process.)
Becoming a professional filmmaker means knowing how to pitch ideas, work with entertainment attorneys, write grants, submit to festivals, compose emails, form LLCs and production companies, meet professional deadlines, work with other producers, production companies and clients, raise funds, create crowd-funding pitches, write budgets, resolve creative differences, and be creatively nimble in an ever-evolving creative world. In this course students will learn all of these skills and will put them into practice in a variety of real-world exercises, practices and tests.
Students will develop two or three scripts from original ideas and from adaptations of short fiction, plays, or newspaper or magazine stories of real-life events. Our guides for developing plot and character will be texts such as Aristotle’s Poetics and Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, and we will spend the semester delving more deeply into the aspects of these foundational texts that help with film storytelling. Student work will be read and examined in class table reads through the semester.
A studio course that advances the filmmaker’s craft from FM 221 and FM 223. Students will further develop their skills in visual storytelling by conceiving and producing two or three films, studying recent scripts for film and television and employing lessons from these in developing story ideas, writing scenes and acts, and in casting, directing, and cinematography. Understanding story is a skill critical to growing as a filmmaker, whether in fiction or non-fiction, and this course takes you further into thinking visually via work on framing, mise-en-scene, lighting for story, and working with your cast and/or narrators to achieve the strongest emotional effects.
This studio course continues from FM 323. In tandem with FM 322 Writing for the Screen 2 students will further explore making stories for the screen, focusing on directing performance and the stylistic partnership between style and story. Over the semester students will make one or two films and participate as crew on at least one other film.
Studio Electives are offered to junior and senior students in the visual arts departments and programs; Art, Design, Film and Interior Architecture. Film topics include Sound Design to Explorations of Space to Light and Cinematography.
Studio Electives are offered to junior and senior students in the visual arts departments and programs; Art, Design, Film and Interior Architecture. The studio electives are structured in 5-week modules with different facets of a subject being taken up in each.
This course will rotate from year to year, focusing on one of eight topics or national cinemas.Subjects will include: Surrealist Film From Bunuel to Leos Carax; French Cinema examines the second most productive cinema in the world, from the Lumière Brothers to the filmmakers of the ‘cinema du look’; Asian Cinema will examine the related yet different traditions of Japan and China, focusing on the period of sentimental dramas of the 1940s to the films of 5th and 6th generations in China and the two major periods of Japanese filmmaking; Films of the Other Europe will look at Northern European Film (Finland, Germany, Sweden,) and Eastern European film (Czechoslovakia, Poland, Germany, Hungary); Films of the New World looks at Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Canada; Italian Cinema takes up Neo-Realism, Italian Modernism (Fellini, Antonioni, Bertolucci) and, among other movements, the Spaghetti Western. A limited number of genres will be explored: The Western from Stagecoach to No Country For Old Men; and Noir: Global Crime From The Big Sleep to Oldboy.
This is a rotating set of seminars on major directors that focus on one or two in a semester and that allow students to more fully study their visions, themes, major contributions to the culture and to film language. In short, it offers students the rare opportunity to regard the work of a master in three dimensions over his or her lifetime. Filmmakers to be selected among are Howard Hawks (Scarface, The Big Sleep, Red River, Rio Bravo), Alfred Hitchcock (The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, Notorious, Rear Window, Vertigo), John Ford (Stagecoach, Young Mr. Lincoln, My Darling Clementine, The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), Yasujiro Ozu (I Was Born But. . . , Late Spring, Tokyo Story, Floating Weeds, Late Autumn), Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon, Stray Dog, Seven Samurai, Ikiru, Yojimbo, Ran), Orson Welles (Citizen Kane, The Lady From Shanghai, Touch of Evil, Chimes at Midnight, The Trial), Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless, My Life to Live, Contempt, A Married Woman, Pierrot le fou, 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, In Praise of Love), Chantal Akerman (Jeanne Dielman, News From Home, Hotel Monterey, No Movie Home), Agnes Varda (Le Bonheur, Cleo From 5 to 7, Vagabond, The Gleaners and I), and Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country For Old Men, True Grit, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, A Serious Man, Hail, Caesar, Miller’s Crossing).
Comedy, noir, the Western, Science Fiction, Horror, the Musical: these and other popular forms in cinema tend to rely on conventions to tell stories and are intended for popular audiences, yet the major works in any category represent some of the best films ever made. In each course, students will be given the opportunity to dive into the specifics of the film language the form uses, how it innovates within the formulas, and how it plugs surprising depths in film and in the culture. Along the way, students will learn about the conventions, iconography, social backgrounds, characters, and even actors that are most typical of the form.
This course focuses on writing comedy scripts for television, film, and online platforms. Students will learn to develop ideas from concepts to completed scripts, writing short comedy pieces and one or two longer ones. Students will learn the five-part story structure, standard development of character for the screen, and other tools that include working with dialogue and story structure. The class will study early film comedy but will reserve more time to analyze and understand the work of more recent masters of big and small screen. Throughout, student work will be read and discussed at table reads.
In this course students will learn how to communicate with actors, evaluate performance from the point of view of the narrative arc, and direct using actors' natural strenghts. Students will study different historical methods, styles and systems of acting and directing (Stanislawski, Adler, Mamet, Weston), exploring forms such as melodrama, naturalism and comedy. Time will be spent analyzing text and performance in contemporary films, and students will workshop scenes with actors, shaping them for greatest emotional resonance.
In this course students will study cinematic uses of light and apply what they have learned in short films that each demonstrate an aspect of how light shapes drama. Students will learn to light for what is at stake dramatically in scenes, and, in addition, they will learn to combine this with new understanding of composition, color, and movement. The class will study important figures such as Billy Bitzer, Gregg Toland, and James Wong Howe; new Hollywood masters such as Gordon Willis and Haskell Wexler; and European vanguards such as Nestor Almendros, Mario Bava, and Robby Muller. Applying their knowledge, students will work with prime lenses, various lighting methods, and stabilization equipment in determining when and where to exercise their understanding.
This course covers key aspects of sound in film, including music, foley arts, and mixing sound over multiple tracks. This is not a course in composition but in working with layers of recorded sound to breath emotion and a sense of felt experience into film images. Students will first study the early days of sound in film up through the contemporary innovations and theories of experts such as Michel Chion and Walter Murch. Students will set their own original sound beds and sound tracks to scenes that will be provided. Time will be spent, moreover, on developing the ear and instinct for sound as well as understanding the tools and concepts behind the mysterious alchemy of sound and image in film.
What does it take to write a complex character or complex scene? Advancing on he work of introductory courses like FM 226 (Writing for the Screen), this course gives students tools to develop characters with contradiction, unsurfaced emotions, secrets, and blind spots, and to place them in scenes together that reveal, or further obscure, these aspects of their inner lives. Students will write two to three medium-sized scripts that explore making scenes and stories that read and feel complex and that seek a balance between action and dialogue.
Students will take what they have learned in their sophomore and junior years and concentrate in this final year on developing their voices and their themes, and on finishing films professionally with titles, credits, more textured storytelling, and more complete sound design. Students choosing to work with narrative film (non-fiction film, the personal essay,fiction) will learn to create complex stories with subtexts. Students choosing to focus on experimental films will concentrate on enriched combinations of image and sound.All students will learn about producers’ work, including line production (financing), and how to make work with layered soundtracks. Students will develop material, writing scripts and treatments, and demonstrating research, and present their BFA proposal.
Students will take what they have learned in their sophomore and junior years and concentrate in this course on the fullest expression of their emerging vision as filmmakers. Students may choose to work with any form of narrative or experimental film, with the goal of making a completed work of twenty to thirty minutes, following approval from the department. Each student will also contribute to at least two other Senior capstone film projects.
Studio Electives are offered to junior and senior students in the visual arts departments and programs; Art, Design, Film and Interior Architecture. The studio electives are structured in 5-week modules
Studio Electives are offered to junior and senior students in the visual arts departments and programs; Art, Design, Film and Interior Architecture. The studio electives are structured in 5-week modules.
Surrealism may be the most enduring movement of the last century, and the one with the longest reach into the present. Pioneered by the poet Guillaume Apollinaire and the write Andre Breton, the movement originally included painters, novelists, poets, and in film, the mordant collage wit of Luis Bunuel. This class wil explore the cinema of surrealism from its earliest expression to mid-century work and more recent work. Each film creates dark, lush, worlds intent on realizing what the poet Arthur Rimbaud called on poetry to do: make of art a derangement of the senses.
Films are so often based on stories first published in newspapers or magazines that rendering the stories cinematically real is an art unto itself. In this course students will learn to adapt scripts from stories that first appeared in newspapers or were first broadcast on radio programs (This American Life, for example), or on television documentaries (CNN, HBO, among others). They will learn to research the material and turn real characters and stories into scripts that make visual sense of the original and that reach beyond the events and people, finding deeper truths in a hybrid of fact and invention.
Our brains, researchers say, are hardwired for forms of linear narrative, the kind whereby the first scene causes the second, and so on up to the final act. In the middle part of the 20th Century, however, filmmakers began to explore the power of the non-linear form. 'Citizen Kane' and 'Rashomon' inspired the French New Wave filmmakers to play with loosened story structures, including making sequences out of time, sidebar scenes and essayistic digressions. Following this model, filmmakers in the past three decades have explored non-linear forms more aggressively, and in this class students will examine their work and styles (filmmakers may include Akira Kurosawa, Jean-Luc Godard, Terrence Malick, Daivd Lynch, Quentin Tarantin, and Won Kar-wai) to understand the aesthetic power of the non-linear, and to write two or three medium-length scripts of their own.
Painting and photography have traditions of self-portraiture, and writing has the memoire whose stories of a month or a life form self-portraits. Film has a handful of semi-autobiographical films and essays – the work of Ross McElwee (Time Indefinite, Sherman’s March) counts, as do one or two Chantal Akerman films (No Home Movie), and Jean-Luc Godard has been making essay films from the beginning (JLG/JLG and 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her are two good ones). Other films might be read autobiobgraphically (Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-Up), but the idea of the self- portrait hardly exists in film. This course, working with the other media as examples, gives students the opportunity to make two self-portraits: a short, relatively straight profile of themselves as artists, and, thinking of the filmmakers listed and of the photographer Lee Friedlander, of painters from Rembrandt to Warhol, and writers from Joan Didion to James McBride, students will devise film self-portraits of their own.