Course Descriptions

Core Courses

AS.455.641 Graduate Filmmaking Studio I & II (4 credits)

This two-semester course is the centerpiece of the graduate experience. The studio meets for four to six hours weekly, allowing students plenty of time to explore all the aspects of the filmmaking process. Co-taught with the MICA MFA Program, this hands-on studio is where good, smart and impactful movies are born. Students will work in groups, particularly during their first semester. While writing and editing are often solitary activities, production is not. Great films are collaborations and students will be expected to work in teams. Group discussions and critiques are balanced with individual meetings with faculty and visits with guest filmmakers. Special emphasis will be placed on ways that filmmakers can build and reach an audience. Students will explore the diverse ways filmmakers are sustaining careers while creating high impact films.

Writing for Film and Television Courses

AS.455.611 Screenwriting Workshop I – The Outline (3 credits)

This will be the first half of a class that will go from basic idea through a full outline for a feature in the first semester and a completed first draft based on that outline in the second. Each student is required to come to the first class with one or two ideas for a completely new screenplay. Please do not bring anything for which there is an outline, treatment, or draft of a script. The focus of the class will be the structure of the feature screenplay as a function of thematic coherence. We will analyze films by act, sequence, and scene to understand dramatic action as a tension between different possible outcomes. There will be five weekend intensive workshop sessions, divided between Friday evening and Saturday that will include some lecture components, some viewing and discussion of films, and, more and more as the semesters develop, reading and discussion of student work. Between the weekend workshops there will be weekly writing assignments and individual Internet or telephone conferences. By the end of the first semester, each student will be required to have completed an outline for a feature film, organized by act, sequence, and scene, and including character, setting, and aesthetic details.

AS.455.612 Screenwriting Workshop II – The Draft (3 credits)

The focus of the class will be the structure of the feature screenplay as a function of thematic coherence. There will be five weekend intensive workshop sessions, divided between Friday evening and Saturday that will include some lecture components and some viewing and discussion of films. During this second semester, the emphasis will be on reading and discussion of student work. Between the weekend workshops there will be weekly writing assignments and individual Internet or telephone conferences. By the end of this semester, each student will be required to have completed a feature-length screenplay based on the outlines from the first semester.

AS.455.614 Acting for Screenwriters (3 credits)

This course taught by a professional actor and director introduces students to the craft of screen acting, using the student’s own scenes and screenplays as text. The first part of the course focuses on the basics of screen acting, using scenes from produced films and episodic series. Students will learn how to analyze a scene, find the truth of the moment and prepare for a scene as actors, as they act the scenes themselves. Essential actions, super objectives, dramatic beats and physical actions are some of the subjects covered. The second part of the course finds the students analyzing, preparing for and acting in scenes from their own screenplays. As the group acts, films and discusses each scene, students will revise the scenes and screenplays, informed by the insights gleaned from the dynamic.

AS.455.615 Episodic Writing Workshop I – Drama (3 credits)

This course exposes students to the mechanics and realities of writing an original pilot for an episodic series, from concept through outline to draft. Each student will finish the semester with a detailed outline of the pilot and an outline of the series format. Dramatic goals, character arcs, operational themes will be a few of the many subjects covered. Emphasis is placed on exploring ways to further push the form through students’ original ideas. Classes will be designed so they center on the specific challenges of the students’ works-in-progress, with an emphasis on exploring and discussing different narrative approaches and solutions that may enhance their writing and revision processes. In this course, students will be working on a one-hour drama series.

AS.455.616 Episodic Writing Workshop II– Comedy (3 credits)

This course will expose students to the mechanics and realities of writing a spec script or pilot script for episodic comedy, from concept through beat sheet to draft. We will study, analyze and break down a specific television show then proceed to sketch out a spec episode based on that show. Each student will finish the semester with a detailed outline and the first pages of the draft. Genre, act structure, dramatic dialogue and cold-opens will be a few of the many subjects covered. In this course, students will be working on a half-hour comedy series.

AS.455.617 Episodic Writing III – The Limited Series (3 credits)

This workshop is an innovative learning experience for select graduate and undergraduate students in film, as they participate in the research and outlining process of a limited series in active development. Students will have an opportunity to engage with a television and screenwriter and a development executive as they develop a “limited series” concept and outline for an eight-hour drama. The students will operate as a research and discussion collective in what would essentially be an apprenticeship with the faculty members (similar to law students working on a case or art students working on a large installation with a senior professor). Through their direct involvement with the writer and producer, participants will gain invaluable firsthand experience of the creative and practical process of developing a historically based limited (or “mini”) series for television.

Business of Film and Media Courses

AS.455.619 Business of Nonfiction: Producing the Documentary (3 credits)

Smaller cameras combined with an expanded distribution network have opened a window for nonfiction content like never before – flooding our television, cinemas and streaming platforms with reality television, documentaries and branded content. For filmmakers, programmers and distributors this means an insatiable appetite for content, but with more than 400 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute how do you prevent your work from getting lost in the sea of sneezing pandas and piano playing cats? This course will explore the nuts and bolts of nonfiction production – giving students an inside look at how each part of the process, from story selection to distribution, can influence the commercial and creative viability of the project. Students will have the opportunity to meet acclaimed documentarians and ask questions on all aspects of production of short and long form documentaries and digital content.

AS.455.620 Fundamentals of Business I (3 credits)

This comprehensive business seminar is centered on presentations and interactive sessions with experts in the field, the study of relevant case studies and the creation of sample plans and strategies by the students. During the first semester we cover such subjects as entertainment law, film finance, production, marketing, public relations and distribution. Emphasis is placed on analyzing and recreating actual and relevant case studies and business situations. Other subjects include sales estimates, comps, tax credits, festivals, release strategies and the art of the pitch. Each student must prepare a business plan, which they will present during the final course day.

AS.455.621 Entertainment Law for Independent Filmmakers (3 credits)

The objective of this class is to ensure that you are an informed filmmaker who can anticipate certain legal and business issues that may arise with your project. Using real-life case studies as basis for discussion, students in this course will explore the legal and business affairs aspect of filmmaking. We will discuss option agreements, distribution agreements, production-related agreements, delivering legal materials to distributors, music and clip clearances, and fair use and guild considerations.

AS.455.623 Fundamentals of Business II (3 credits)

This comprehensive business seminar will be centered on presentations and interactive sessions with experts in the field, the study of relevant case studies and the creation of sample plans and strategies by the students. During the second semester we will cover such subjects as alternative financing, crowdfunding, branded content, digital content distribution and international coproductions. Emphasis will be placed on analyzing and recreating actual and relevant case studies and business situations. Other subjects will include micro budgets, over the top content, equity and presales.

AS.455.625 Line Producing, Creative Producing, Executive Producing (3 credits)

Through in-class projects, interactions with production courses and on-going independent productions, students will be exposed to the myriad responsibilities of producers, from the creative, executive and on-the-field perspectives. We will explore the many elements that make up the creation of films and television shows, from development and financing through production, marketing and distribution. An intensive weekend workshop will focus on scheduling, budgeting and running a set.

Sound Production and Design Courses

AS.455.630 Recording Sound for Film (3 credits)

This course serves as an orientation to the recording studio and the craft of capturing sound with microphones. Topics will include sound behavior (i.e., basic acoustics), human perception of sound (i.e., basic psychoacoustics), microphone theory and techniques, signal flow and processing, basic digital audio theory, and the digital audio workstation (Pro Tools and Logic Pro). Projects will include in-studio and location recordings. By the end of the semester students will be able to effectively navigate the studio at the Ten East North facility and capture sound on location for use in subsequent classes. Should be taken prior to or concurrently with AS.445.631 Designing Sound for Film.

AS.455.631 Designing Sound for Film (3 credits)

This course explores the use of software and hardware in the music studio as a means by which composers and sound designers create sound for use in soundtracks. Topics will include exploration of software instruments using synthesis and sampling, as well as instrumentation and orchestration of acoustic instruments. The art of Foley will be explored through which students will create sound effects and background ambience using a variety of objects. Projects will incorporate the creation of soundscapes and compositions with both software and ‘real’ acoustic instruments. Best if taken concurrently or following 455.630 Recording Sound for Film.

AS.455.632 Sound on Film I (3 credits)

This course builds on the training from Recording Sound for Film and Designing Sound for Film by utilizing the knowledge and skills acquired in the operation of the recording studio and use of software and hardware instruments. Students will study finished works and analyze the use of sound by filmmakers in different genres, and apply those techniques to short film projects created by filmmakers also in the MA program. The ProTools digital audio workstation will be the primary tool used during the course but students are welcome and encouraged to integrate their knowledge of other audio systems into their work. Grading will be based on the quality of work, use of the tools and techniques discussed in class and classroom participation. Prerequisites: 455.630 Recording Sound for Film, 455.631 Designing Sound for Film.

AS.455.633 Sound on Film II (3 credits)

The final course in the sound concentration sequence, this course is focused on composing and sound designing a longer-form capstone work in collaboration with a filmmaker also in the MA program. Final grade is based on the quality of the finished product and an evaluation by the instructor of how the student incorporated knowledge and techniques introduced in the previous three classes. Prerequisite: 455.632 Sound on Film I.

PY.550.524 Sound Design for Video Games (3 credits)

This course is designed to bring together students with backgrounds in composition and/or recording engineering to learn the fundamentals of designing sound and music for video games. Topics will include an overview of the game production process and team members involved, elements of sound design, surround sound principles, MIDI, interactive music structures, middleware and an exploration of common console and PC hardware. Final project: All sound and music for a 3-5 minute of actual gameplay, in surround. Open to Composition, Computer Music and Recording Arts and Sciences majors, or by permission of instructor.