This Area of Concentration revolves around a two-course seminar series taught by veteran development and acquisition executives. The “Fundamentals of Business” seminars are structured around presentations by internationally renowned industry leaders, who – together with the class – analyze case studies in the film and television industries. You will develop your own business plans, investor decks, and marketing plans, and present them to invited executives, investors, and entrepreneurs.

Area of Concentration Courses

Four courses are required to earn this Area of Concentration within the MA in Film and Media program.

In an era of record-setting festival acquisitions and a thriving demand for nonfiction content from television, theatrical and streaming platforms, it is evident why our cultural moment has been described as a modern “golden age” of documentary filmmaking. But for an aspiring filmmaker, what is the best way to break through and navigate this terrain from the business perspective? Covering avenues related to storytelling approach (feature-length, series, short form etc.), producing and exhibiting work (pitching, budgeting, fundraising, proposal-writing, festival strategy, distribution, etc), and the organizations and outlets on the forefront of documentary decision-making, this course aims to situate students in the contemporary market of nonfiction filmmaking. Over the course of the semester, students will develop an idea for a nonfiction film or series into a refined pitch and proposal, applying the strategic knowledge gained from a series of lectures, screenings, case studies, and conversations with established industry professionals and filmmakers.

By dynamically using real-life case studies as a basis for discussion and learning, students in this course will explore the legal and business affairs aspect of filmmaking. We will examine the meaning and structure of copyright law, fair use, option & purchase agreements, key crew & talent agreements, distribution agreements, tax credit/rebate statutes, music licensing and product placement deals, among other topics.

Through in-class projects, interactions with working producers, line producers and AD’s and on-going independent productions, students will be exposed to the myriad responsibilities of producers, from the creative and on-the-field perspectives. We will explore the many elements that make up the creation of films and television shows, with a focus on a producer’s creative input from development to post production to a producer’s understanding of the nuts and bolts fundamentals of how to budget and schedule.

This class will explore the ways films reach an audience. We will examine festival strategy and traditional theatrical distribution as well as changing ancillary and online markets. Case studies of successful marketing campaigns across genres and platforms will be used as evidence. Testimonies by guest lecturers who work in the field of distribution will supplement the core syllabus.

The Director of Photography has instrumental role in crafting the final look of a film. In the course, the four creative roles of the cinematography department – Camera Operator, Gaffer, Key Grip, and Dolly Grip are examined in-depth. Through a series of screenings, discussions and workshops, the students learn many of the dynamics between these roles. In class, students will mount detailed and intricately lighted shots. Students will work with the Arri Amira, a professional motion picture camera. Camera topics include camera settings & trouble shooting, on-set data management, ALEXA color science, working with LogC, look management, and dailies creation. Prerequisites: AS.455.640 (Graduate Studio I) or a demonstrated basic camera proficiency

In this introductory course, students will ultimately create their own short podcasts around stories that are meaningful to them and their intended audiences. Students will enact principles of listener-centered design, they’ll work to find stories worth telling, and they’ll learn to tell those stories powerfully. This course will build competency in recording and editing techniques, interviewing skills, creating story structure, and understanding the potential social impact of documentary work. Students will also study current monetization strategies in the booming podcast market and learn how to find, keep, and grow an audience.

Students develop and workshop short narrative scripts that they write. The course covers working with actors and understanding the filmmaking process from the actor's point of view. Students visualize their scripts so they are prepared to work with a Producer, Director of Photography and additional crew. The course also explores techniques of blocking and staging action for the camera, with emphasis on the practical problems and aesthetic questions that arise.

This course will lead students through the practical applications of documentary filmmaking within a professional environment. Beginning with actual client meetings that define production parameters, students (working with faculty) will take the project through development and preproduction into a collaborative production environment that culminates with a rigorous and detailed postproduction process. Working within strict timelines and a defined budget, students will take on lead roles to produce a series of short documentaries that fulfill (if not exceed) client expectations. The entirety of this process will be documented via a behind the scenes team, who will develop an electronic press kit (EPK) and manage the social media presence of this project. NOTE: Admission to the course requires Instructor and Program Director approval. Students are required to submit formal materials to the Instructors and the Program Director for consideration.

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.

Movie Magic is a specialized software used throughout the industry to schedule and budget films and television. Gain practical knowledge and training for the professional world to boost your job opportunities and experience. Over the semester, you will schedule & budget multiple projects including, for example: a short film, a commercial, a documentary, etc. and learn how to properly assess and budget for travel, locations, production departments, union positions (i.e., SAG-AFTRA, DGA, WGA and IATSE) and their corresponding Pension, Health & Welfare requirements.

Students should be aware of state-specific information for online programs. For more information, please contact an admissions representative.

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