Fall 2018 Course Electives in Film, TV Writing and Creative Writing
Our fall schedule reflects the kind of electives we regularly offer. Program director and faculty are happy to speak to potential students about how to shape a degree from the electives we offer in Writing, TV Writing, Directing and Producing.
IN INDEPENDENT FILM PRODUCTION (4cr)
Mondays, 5:20-8:10 pm - Christine Vachon, Pamela Koffler, and Simone Pero
Master Classes focus on the filmmaking as an art form and an industry. Creative and business sectors are at an intersection of unlimited potential, and students will learn how to tap into and exploit the shifting paradigms of filmmaking – or content-making -- as practiced today. Students study script development, screenwriting, directing, and producing, and learn the realities of the independent film business from top industry professionals, including producers, casting agents, designers, actors, and lawyers, as well as distinguished filmmakers. This class is a core requirement for the MFA in Film.
TOPICS IN FLM: SCREENWRITING: The Short (3cr)
Wednesdays, 5:20-8:10 pm - Jennie Allen
The aim of this workshop is to approach short form screenwriting through exercises, experimentation, providing and receiving feedback, and reflection. Students will study different short forms and dramatic theory but the focus of the class is on practice; students will learn through writing, critique, discussion, and reflection. The main fuel for each class will be student work. Students will leave with at least two polished short film scripts, including the short film they will pitch in the Master Class and shoot in Spring.
FORMS OF SCRIPTWRITING – Writing for TV (3cr)
Mondays, 5:20-8:10 pm - Scott Burkhardt
Writing the Spec Script. Students learn how to write a spec script for a TV show that is currently on the air. A “spec” is a script where the writer creates original stories for a show’s existing characters. A great spec is a key part of the portfolio needed to get a job as a television writer. Students will learn how to brainstorm story ideas, structure an outline and write scenes with dialogue, all in a constructive, supportive workshop atmosphere. The class covers both half-hour comedies and one-hour dramas. In addition, the class will watch, deconstruct and discuss a wide variety of TV shows in order to better understand how a successful episode is built. All the basics of TV writing are covered and the workshop is designed to closely mirror a professional writers room on a prime-time series.
TEACHING PRACTICUM - Karen Offitzer (3cr)
Thursdays, 5:20-8:10 pm
Required course for those seeking future employment as an instructor at the undergraduate level. This course plunges into the basics of pedagogy, including designing assignments, sequencing them, grading them, and creating syllabi for writing, directing, film analysis and producing courses. You’ll get hands-on experience creating lesson plans and conducting lectures, seminars and filmmaking workshops, and will gain a preliminary overview of pedagogy on your way to devising your own. Most importantly, you’ll ask and ask again, “What is teachable about filmmaking, and who am I to teach it?” (You need permission of the director and at least 6 program credits under your belt to take this class.) Please note that additional class time will be arranged with instructor.
DIRECTING I: Principles of Directing (3cr)
Tuesdays 5:20-8:10 pm - Sameh Zoabi
How do directors decide where to put the camera? How do shots tell a story, create meaning, and make an audience feel something? Students will study and practice script analysis, shot progression, composition, and staging. There will be several assigned directing exercises shot outside of class and workshopped in class; students must shoot and edit their own exercises. The focus is on narrative storytelling but there will be room for interpretation and experimentation. The final exercise will be a three minute short film.
FILM WORKSHOP: Safety, Shooting and Splicing (3cr)
Thursdays, 5:20-8:10 pm - Jordan Roberts (Listed as Film Management I: Prod Seminar)
This introductory course will focus on the fundamentals of production; covering safety, production equipment and editing. You’ll be introduced to the tools that you will have at your disposal to shoot your film projects. We will spend time in the classroom and on set, shooting various exercises. We will cover set safety, proper handling of the gear, the ins and outs of a selection of cameras, sound equipment and lighting. In addition we will cover the basics of cinematography and framing, audio techniques and basic set protocol. This is the first step to help you properly capture the stories you want to tell.
Once we shoot for a few weeks we will move into the edit lab. Whether you are a seasoned editor just looking for a few new tips, or a novice who has never made an edit in your life, this section of the course will provide the instruction that you need. Working with Adobe Premiere Pro, the course will cover the basics of non-linear editing; including: creating new projects, media management, sequence settings, importing, transcoding, sound, JKL cuts, titling, mixed file format editing, export settings and delivery. Not only will we discuss the tools of editing, we will discuss the theory of it, and how each and every cut should have a purpose. Through film examples, articles, books and hands on lessons, we will dive into the craft and explore this often-underappreciated process. You can test out of this class if you possess the skillsets.
FILM HISTORY I: European Auteurs Film Survey, (3cr)
Tuesdays 8:20-11:10 pm - Lenny Crooks
There is an identifiable European way of filmmaking. It has nothing to do with style or genre (although Action films are few and far between). Rather it is about process and priority. Regarding process, there are so many sources of public funding for development that for most distributed films have the writer will have been paid for several drafts. As regards priorities, the director is considered the most important element in a film's creation. So much so that many films are financed on artistic merit without undue consideration of the box office potential of lead cast members. Regardless of who has written the script, a director who has achieved distinction is considered the author or 'Auteur'. At two-week intervals we will screen and discuss a film followed by an analysis of the director's body of work.
INTRO TO THE RED EPIC-W
Second half of semester, d ay TBD 5:20-8:10 pm - Jordan Roberts (6 meetings)
For second year film students (and beyond) only.
4K is so 5 minutes ago. 8K is now king! This short, but intense and highly focused workshop will introduce you to the RED Epic-W, an industry standard cinema camera that is used on scores of professional film sets. We will discuss how to build the camera, prep it for shooting, manipulate images in camera, review various shooting settings and eventually how post-production works with such large files. By the end of these 6 meetings you will have a firm grasp on how to build, shoot, edit and output material from the RED Epic-W. Prerequisite - Shooting with Style
SCREENWRITING I (3cr)
8 Saturdays - Jennie Allen
In this course you will develop a feature length screenplay idea. By the end of the class you will have written a prose treatment of the story from start to finish, as well as the first 30 pages. We will work on two levels: screenings, screenplay readings, and analysis of feature film structure alongside writing exercises and assignments to help you develop your idea into a compelling story.
ADVANCED SCREENWRITING –
Refine your Story, Complete Your Draft: Screenwriting II (3cr)
8 Saturdays, 11 am-5 pm (4 in Manhattan – 4 in Southampton) - Annette Handley Chandler
This course will build on introductory screenwriting skills and elements. It will offer a more intensive study of the screenwriting craft especially character, scene construction, scene sequence/juxtaposition and dialogue. Viewing film/film clips as well as analyzing and deconstructing more complex screenplays will be required. Rigorous class sessions will consist of group readings and open critiques. The objective of this course will be to structure and write or rewrite a full-length feature screenplay. Intermediate to Advanced Screenwriters. Prerequisite Screenwriting I.
DIRECTING II – Advanced Directing (3cr)
Tuesdays, 5:20-8:10 pm - Instructor TBD
Students will practice using more complicated staging, camera movement, and working with time in this workshop. They will practice their craft by directing several exercises. Experimentation will be encouraged. Advanced Directing will give students the skills they need for the Spring Advanced Production course, and students may begin working out ideas for the films they will make in that course. Prerequisite: Directing I.
SCREENWRITING WORKSHOP II: Dogme (3cr)
Wednesdays, 5:20-8:10 pm - Lenny Crooks
With the guidance of Lenny Crooks, Magdalene Brandeis, and Jennie Allen, writer/directors will follow in the tradition of the Stony Brook/Killer 20/20/20 boot camp and borrow from the Dogme manifesto drawn up by Danish filmmakers Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. This course offers a unique writing/directing/learning opportunity. Working from pre-existing characters -- either a main character or a subsidiary character from a short film you have written or made - and inclusive of your classmates' characters, the group collaborates to create a digital series, filmed in December. Episodes add up to a cohesive series. This course will give participants writers’ room experience, show-runner experience, and prepare feature film directors for trans-media promotions, etc. Course Prerequisite: first year production.
PROFESSIONAL INTERNSHIP (1-3cr)
Students work on Killer Films NYC-based production.
THESIS PROJECT (3cr)
THESIS PAPER (3cr)
TV WRITING - The Spec (4cr)
Thursdays, 5:20-8:10 pm - Alan Kingsberg
Students learn how to write a spec script for a TV show that is currently on the air. A “spec” is a script where the writer creates original stories for a show’s existing characters. A great spec is a key part of the portfolio needed to get a job as a television writer. Students will learn how to brainstorm story ideas, structure an outline and write scenes with dialogue, all in a constructive, supportive workshop atmosphere. The class covers both half-hour comedies and one-hour dramas. In addition, the class will watch, deconstruct and discuss a wide variety of TV shows in order to better understand how a successful episode is built. All the basics of TV writing are covered and the workshop is designed to closely mirror a professional writers room on a prime-time series. This class is paired with one-on-one advisement every other week.
TV GUEST SERIES (2cr)
Mondays, 7:30-9:30 pm - Alan Kingsberg
A moderated guest series featuring in-depth discussions with TV writers and producers about their scripts, series and careers. Meets six times during the Fall semester.
SKETCH COMEDY (2cr)
Wednesdays, 6:30-9:30 pm - Ethan T. Berlin
Taught by a veteran comedy writer, this workshop covers the fundamentals of late night and sketch writing in the style of SNL, The Late Show, Full Frontal, and The Daily Show. Structured like a comedy writers' room, students learn to pitch jokes and sketches live in front of other writers. Students also gain experience working on a sketch or late night packet.
SHOW RUNNER (1cr)
In a writers room environment, students form teams to pitch and break stories under the supervision of a show-runner. Working as a cohesive group, the class builds a complete episode for an ongoing series.
ADVANCED PILOT (3cr)
Tuesdays or Wednesdays, 5:20-8:10 pm - Teacher TBD
Students build on the skills developed in their first year to create a new series concept that has a strong story engine and a powerful emotional or comedic core – a concept that can generate compelling episodes over multiple seasons. Next, students create stories for their pilot episode, outline and write scenes working toward finishing at least one pilot script. 3 Credits. Prerequisite classes: Spec and Pilot.
TV DIRECTING (3cr)
Tuesdays or Wednesdays, 5:20-8:10 pm - Teacher TBD
Students learn the basics of TV directing including how to create shot lists, block scenes and place and move the camera. Exercises include directing scenes from a student’s own script and scenes from scripts written by others. In addition students crew on other students shoots.
TV LIMITED SERIES (2cr)
Possibly Mondays, 5:20-8:10 pm – Teacher TBD
Class works as a group to plot out a season of a limited series based on a true event. This includes building story and character arcs across a season, breaking individual episodes and writing scenes.
ADVANCED SKILLS FOR TV
Tuesdays or Wednesdays, 8:20-11:10 pm - Jordan Roberts
A six-session skills class at the top of semester to expand on skills taught the previous Fall and prepare students to shoot scenes in directing class and produce a web series in the Spring. 1 credit.
Introduction to Graduate Writing, Robert Reeves & Carla Caglioti
Mondays, 5:20-8:10 pm (Class #96184)
A seminar that introduces students to one another, the faculty, the program in Creative Writing and Literature, and to issues in contemporary writing. Offered in conjunction with the "Writers Speak" lecture series. Students will attend the regular series of readings sponsored by the Writing program and meet at weekly intervals under the direction of a faculty advisor to discuss and write about topics raised in the lecture series, as well as issues generated from seminar discussions and assigned readings. Please note: CWL 500 is a required course that should be taken in the first semester.
Forms of Poetry: Prose Poem, Short-Short or “Couldn’t Finish,” Amy Hempel
7 Saturdays, 12:00-6:00 pm, dates TBD (Class #96185)
In this course, we will read and discuss short-short stories and prose poems from several countries and centuries, drawing mostly from contemporary examples. Students will write frequently in one or both forms, after we look at the specific requirements of each, a variety of definitions, and differences and similarities. As one practitioner noted, “The short-short is like a regular story, only more so.”
Topics in Literature: Reading and Writing the Short Story, Susan Minot
Tuesdays, 5:20-8:10 pm ( Class #96188)
As our 2013 Nobel Laureate Alice Munro recently said, the short story is “an important art, not just something you played around with until you got a novel.” Focus in this workshop will be on the building blocks of the short story: style, structure and content. In class discussions of student fiction, we will focus on refinement of that style, on varieties of structure, with an eye to finding the subject best suited to each writer. Strong editorial feedback will assist the students in both practicing editing on their fellow students, as well as learning the value of doing draft after draft in order to strengthen and focus the material of his or her concern. Mastery of one’s craft is our goal. Suggested outside reading will direct students to the masters, choosing from among: Anton Chekhov, Raymond Carver, Lydia Davis, Amy Hempel, Franz Kafka, Flannery O'Conner, John Cheever, Katherine Mansfield, Ernest Hemingway, Lorrie Moore, and James Salter.
Arts Administration Practicum, Carla Caglioti - 1 credit
Alternate Mondays, 4:00-5:00 pm (Class #96189)
Hybrid course (in-person, skype, email)
In this practicum we will look at the opportunities and obstacles in building sustainable arts programming in Manhattan. The class will be given a budget from which to research, develop, schedule and market a literary event with the goal of building community and establishing traditions for Manhattan. This practicum will introduce participants to the "business of the arts," providing an overview of the types of work that arts administrators do and the current issues and trends arts management professionals face. By the end of the course, students will have developed an understanding of the critical areas which arts administrators must manage, including budgeting, marketing/publicity, fundraising, audience development, surveying and analysis, scheduling, and contracts. Permission of instructor and completion of at least 6 program credits required.