Course Descriptions

The Masters of Arts in Film and Media Program emphasizes experiential learning and focuses on the latest trends and advances in the industry. The curriculum balances practice with theory and has been specifically designed to keep up with the constant advances in technology, ideas and trends, both practical and aesthetic.

  • Courses

    455.611 - Screenwriting Workshop 1-The Step Outline

    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.

    455.612 - Screenwriting Workshop 2 - The Draft

    Students will write the first draft of their feature-length script in the first few weeks. Aided by class discussion and targeted screenings of films related to their specific challenges, students will go through two full revisions of their script.

    455.615 - Episodic Writing Workshop 1 – The Pilot

    This course will expose students to the mechanics and realities of writing an original pilot for a television series, from concept through beat sheet to draft. Each student will finish the semester with a mini-series bible, a detailed outline and the first half the draft of the pilot. Dramatic goals, character arcs, operational themes will be a few of the many subjects covered.

    455.616 - Episodic Writing Workshop 2 – Comedy

    This workshop teaches you how to write a television script for your favorite half-hour comedy. In this class students will learn the basics of script writing, from premise lines and beat sheet, to writing pages, punching up dialogue and polishing the draft. The focus here will be on a writing a "spec" script for a current television half-hour comedy, critiquing and workshopping the script as one would in a professional writers' room. Though in this class we will not be developing and writing pilots, we will discuss the process and students will learn the basics of pitching an idea to networks. This course is designed to prepare students for the professional world.

    455.620 - Fundamentals of Business 1

    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.

    455.621 - Entertainment Law for Independent Filmmakers

    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 explore option agreements, distribution agreements, tax credit/rebate laws, international co-production agreements and challenges and labor law, among other topics.

    455.622 - Project Financing

    From concept to delivery, students in this course explore the intricacies of financing specific projects in the film and television industry. Students are expected to draft a comprehensive business plan and information package for a project during the semester, including a financial structure, comps, ultimates, equity, crowd sourcing, and an ROI.

    455.623 - Fundamentals of Business II

    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, episodic content, straight to series and international co-productions. Emphasis will be placed on analyzing and recreating actual and relevant case studies and business situations. Other subjects will include micro budgets and over the top content.

    455.625 - Line Producing, Creative Producing, Executive Producing

    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.

    455.626 - Mixing Sound for Picture

    This course is a practical exploration of all aspects of mixing audio for film and tv. The students will prepare to mix during the first half of the semester, topics will include dialog editing, automated dialog replacement (ADR, or “looping”), Foley, music editing and sound effects spotting as well as basic sound design. Recording of ADR and Foley will take place in the studio at the JHU-MICA Film Centre using condenser and dynamic microphones. The class will shift its focus in the second half of the semester to re-recording mixing, exploring both the technical and creative aspects of mixing. Students will learn to mix in the Film Centre’s control room using Avid Pro Tools HD software for Apple macOS with proprietary and third-party software plug-ins. Upon completion of the course, students will know how to provide final mix files as well as stems, i.e. mix minus, M&E, dialog, sound effects, and music. Projects will include spotting, prepping, building and mixing a short film or series of scenes. Class will occur during a three-hour weekday evening throughout the semester in the sound studio of The JHU-MICA Film Centre, where students will work as a class to record and edit group projects and, schedule permitting, individual projects.

    455.628 - Digital Narratives

    The Digital Narratives course will prepare students to launch a short form series from conception through distribution for the Mobile First Generation. During the past few years, Mobile First consumption has changed fictional formats and the viewing habits of Generation Z are set to revolutionize the industry. As younger audiences move away from the TV set in favor of smart phones, tablets, and computers, we are witnessing the rise of mobile-first content. Their shift to viewing on smart phones is influencing the sort of dramas that get made. These trends are changing content by giving rise to new formats, casting different types of talent and using data to boost ratings (data is driving development and casting) Students will develop a 10 minute x 10 episode digital narrative, produce the pilot episode and pitch the series to a panel of industry veterans.

    455.630 - Recording Sound for Film

    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.

    455.631 - Sound Fundamentals II: The Studio as a Compositional Tool

    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 whereby students create sound effects and background ambience using a variety of objects. Projects will incorporate the creation of soundscapes and musical compositions with both software and ‘real’ acoustic instruments. Should be taken concurrently with Recording Sound for Film.

    455.632 - Sound on Film I

    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: Recording Sound for Film, Designing Sound for Film.

    455.633 - Sound on Film II

    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: Sound on Film I.

    455.636 - Advanced Recording Systems (Peabody)

    Prerequisite: Fundamentals of Audio Engineering Intro to Computer Music (Peabody) Orchestration (Peabody) Instrumentation (Peabody).

    455.640 - Graduate Filmmaking Studio I

    This two-semester course is the centerpiece of the graduate experience. The studio meets for four hours weekly and is co-taught with the MICA MFA Program. This hands-on studio is where good, smart and compelling 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. Class meetings will often include a screening in conjunction with the Maryland Film Festival. 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.

    455.641 - Graduate Filmmaking Studio II

    This two-semester course is the centerpiece of the graduate experience. The studio meets for four hours weekly and is co-taught with the MICA MFA Program. This hands-on studio is where good, smart and compelling movies are born. While writing and editing are often solitary activities, production is not Students will work on their own project, teaming up with fellow students and other filmmakers. Group discussions and critiques are balanced with individual meetings with faculty and visits with guest filmmakers. Class meetings will often include a screening in conjunction with the Maryland Film Festival. 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. Pre-Requisite: Graduate Filmmaking Studio I.

    455.650 - Script to Screen

    This course de-mystifies the film development process and teaches students the key tools necessary for a successful career as a film executive or producer. This course will chart the key stages of finding and preparing a good project for production. These steps include how to find, evaluate, obtain rights and shape material from the producer's perspective. The course will examine strategies employed by filmmakers who adapt existing IP and literary works to the screen. Detailed comparisons between cinematic adaptations and the novels, plays, and short stories on which they are based. Case studies of literary works that pose a variety of challenges to filmmakers.

    455.800 - Capstone for Film & Media

    Guided by meetings with the instructor and other guest speakers from the industry, students research, develop and deliver a final project that demonstrates skill in one or both of their concentrations. Ideally, this project will be completed in collaboration with a student or students from the JHU MA or MICA MFA program who are completing their own capstone projects.