Graduate Admissions

Cinema Art + Science - Directing MFA

PLEASE NOTE: These are samples only. Course offerings are subject to change and not all courses are offered each term or each year. Be sure to check the online course catalog and the current class schedule for details about pre-requisites, terms offered, class fees, etc.).

PRE-SEMESTER

Summer - first three weeks of August (6 credits)

Introduction to Cinema Directing (6 credits) 24-6360

This course is designed to ensure that students entering the MFA Screen Directing program in Film & Video have a broad, basic knowledge of screen directing and how they will develop as directors as they proceed through the program. This three-week full time workshop uses lectures, demonstrations and hands-on practice to cover the key foundational principles, analytical skills and requisite technical information for understanding Character and revealing Character through Cinematic Expression in fiction film. 

SEMESTER ONE

Fall (12 Credits)

Directing for Character (6 credits) 24-6361

With an emphasis on narrative form, the course covers basic skills in revealing complex fictional characters on the screen. Students learn to develop craft as well as personal voice with the study of the basic relationship between actor, text, and director, the course expands to include staging, rehearsal techniques, and effective critiquing skills. Emphasis is on the development of director's breakdowns, beat analysis, rehearsal techniques, and casting.  Students work on their own projects as well as those of their peers.

Screenwriting I (3 credits) 24-6713

This course introduces students to techniques for finding story ideas and for developing them in a variety of script formats. It aims to provide approaches to writing screenplays drawing from the writer's own life experiences and direct observations; to facilitate a deeper understanding of the screenwriting process and writing for an audience; to teach students the elements and structure of Western drama as applied to short screenplay form, including character, story/plot and cause/effect structure; to assist in developing systematic work habits to carry the student from conception to idea development through revisions to polishing scenes/scripts; and to provide students with the opportunity for critique of their screenwriting. Students learn to write in treatment form as well as shot outline, split script, and master scene formats.

Cinema Study I (1 credit) 24-6605A

Selected films and readings address cinematic material adapted from Intellectual Properties that originated in another medium; emphasis will be placed on the story issues as expressed through all the aesthetic elements; analysis will include the comparing and contrasting of films adapted from or inspired by theater plays, novels, short stories, graphic novels, journalistic material and other art forms (such as music), such as Casablanca, Double Indemnity, 2001, Short Cuts, Ghost World, Boys Don’t Cry and Magnolia.  These adaptations are placed in a cultural/historical/theoretical context, connecting to and drawing from the Pre-Semester session.

Editing Theory and Practice (3 Credits) 24-6430

This course provides a basic narrative editing experience in three areas: developing information-handling skills to deal with large amounts of film and audio material, acquiring the means to apply ideas about that material in order to develop an authorial approach, and using digital, non-linear off-line video editing equipment for each student to edit their own filmic interpretation. Students learn the organizational skills necessary to edit a film; advanced knowledge of post-production protocols in digital editing; and how to use elements of narrative editing strategies, including rhythm, pacing, point-of-view, screen direction, matching cuts, script analysis and communication with collaborators. Students receive critiques of their work after each project to determine the development of their proficiency of craft and creativity.

SEMESTER TWO

Spring (13 Credits)

Directing for Drama (6 Credits) 24-6xxx

Building on the foundations of Directing for Character and MFA Screenwriting I, students will develop, cast, rehearse, prepare, shoot, and edit a 5- to 8-minute narrative film through a series of lectures, written assignments, shooting exercises and training workshops.  These classroom experiences are designed to provide the student with a better understanding of the relationship of character to dramatic scene and story. 

Cinema Study II (1 credit) 24-6605B

Building upon the historical analysis begun in Cinema Studies I, Cinema Studies II analyzes selected films and readings to address a variety of ideation, development and execution strategies (in conjunction with the Ideation & Development and Screenwriting class); for example, students will compare and contrast the films, aesthetic choices and processes of directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Agnes Varda, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach and Jane Campion.  These films would be placed in a cultural/historical/theoretical context, connecting to and drawing from the Pre-Semester session and first semester of MFA Cinema Directing studies.

Ideation & Theme (3 Credits) 24-6700

Ideation & Theme (MFA) is a course designed to help students approach the creative process in multiple ways and to explore story and theme in conjunction with considerations of personal vision and expression. Students develop a range of simple ideas and work through the conceptualization and proposal process using various writing and visualization strategies. These film possibilities are filtered in a variety of ways throughout the course. Work completed earlier in the graduate program can be drawn from and work produced in this class will be further developed in Directing Workshop and Thesis.

Elective - Course or Workshop (3 credits)

SEMESTER THREE

Fall (12 Credits)

Directing Workshop III (6 Credits) 24-6363

This advanced directing workshop in which students will further develop material generated in Ideation & Theme.  Students will explore that material through a series of rehearsals, pre-visualization exercises, exploratory shoots, critique and discussion.  These will provide the students with the opportunity to develop and “sketch” material from character-based, theme-based, traditional and nontraditional narrative perspectives as ways to test out active creative decisions that will help them prepare a strategy and finished script for their thesis film.

Cinema Study III (1 credit) 24-6605C

Building on the principles and examples from Cinema Studies I and II, this course will analyze selected films and readings in relationship to niche film markets, such as glbt or African American cinema, and/or the transition of international directors to Hollywood, such as Sergei Eisenstein, Paul Greengrass or Jim Sheridan, allowing students to bring insights and perspectives to the Semester in LA courses. These films will be placed in a cultural/historical/theoretical context, connecting to and drawing from the Pre-Semester session and the first year of the MFA Cinema Directing coursework.

Elective - Course or Workshop (6 Credits)

J-SESSION

(3 credits)

Thesis (1 Credit) 24-6071

Elective - Course or Workshop (1 credits)

SEMESTER FOUR

Spring (6 credits)

Thesis (2 credits) 24-6071

Students work with a creative producer and thesis advisors in pre production, production, and post production for a professionally executed short film using collaborative filmmaking techniques.

Applied Post-Production & Delivery (3 credits) 24-6618

This course focuses on the leadership role of the director during post-production. Coursework will include managing various “cuts” during editing, the role of testing films for audience response, and working with related post processes such as post-sound, music, color correction, titles and visual effects. Students will further investigate the full range of “deliverables” and associated exhibition strategies for their thesis projects.

TOTAL CREDIT HOURS: 52