Curriculum

Our 30-credit course of study is designed to prepare students for all facets of the independent filmmaking process. Working with noteworthy writers, directors, producers, casting agents and editors, students in the MPS Directing program explores every aspect of filmmaking from the Director’s perspective, from the creation of a script to casting, budgeting, directing, filming, editing and marketing the final product. The program culminates in a thesis-based short film festival at the SVA Theatre.

 

Directing I & II

Students are offered a first-hand opportunity to experience the creation and execution of a film in the ever-changing world of media production. We will discuss and analyze international Academy Award-winning short films for various techniques. Each student will examine the art of visual storytelling and learn to utilize the tools of cinema to tell their story and articulate their vision. We will examine the challenges of directing a film—conceptual screenwriting, directing, photography, and working with the production team to achieve their vision. In the second part of this two-part class on Directing, students will begin pre-production and move into production of their thesis films. They will continue to examine the art of directing moving forward with location scouting, shotlisting, and production. Marketing, submission to film festivals, and postproduction matters will also be addressed.

Director's Toolbox
The director's job starts well before the call of "action!" and doesn't end at the call of "cut!"  This course explores a variety of methods for utilizing the many tools at the director’s disposal before production, during production, and beyond.  Students will have the opportunity to workshop scenes; exploring techniques to articulate story through lens choice, lighting, camera position, blocking, and composition as well as optimizing the collaborative process to tell a compelling visual narrative. In the second half of the semester this course shifts to deconstructing the various platforms for engaging in social media and uniquely marketing the filmmaker and their films directly to their intended audiences.
Film, Language, Analysis and Criticism I & II
Narrative filmmaking has been in the forefront of cinema for motion pictures' 120-year history. Stories have played a critical part in the development and culture of film from the earliest projected images made by the Lumiere Brothers in France in the 1890s to works being made today by amateurs on smartphones and transmitted globally on the Internet. This course will analyze the language of narrative filmmaking with examples of significant short films that have expanded the boundaries of cinematic expression from around the world. The lectures, screenings and class discussions will cover the various strategies of telling a story in film, and will suggest a critical framework for thinking about the modes of narrative expressiveness in cinema. A broad range of narrative cinema will be featured including those films that mix fiction with documentary reality, and those works that even question the idea of narrative itself. The concentration in the first part of this course will be on American and European Cinema within a context of social responsibility while the second part of this two-part class will feature short works from the East and elsewhere, and will be concerned not only with student-made films but digital works conceived in non-traditional modes.
Producing For Film Artists
This course is geared specifically toward the practical and creative information needed by film artists to ensure that they have the tools to both realize their artistic vision and find the appropriate media outlets once they’re reached completion. While it is important to push the aesthetic boundaries in our field of the moving image, it is also invaluable to have an understanding of production and distribution options, and general business information that is key to the independent media maker.
Screenwriting
This course is an intensive exploration of the basic principles of dramatic writing. Students will have the opportunity to study the practice and theory of storytelling in a wide range of contexts, from the ancient Greeks to contemporary Hollywood, focusing on those elements common to all narratives, students will develop a short 8 to 12 minute screenplay. Students will examine the art of screenwriting from the Director’s perspective and be given a choice of writing their own screenplay, collaborating with a professional writer, or optioning an original script from a professional writer -- any process the student chooses will lead to developing a shooting script under the close guidance of the instructor and workshopped in class. Students will be expected to submit numerous revisions and work through several drafts, until the screenplay in deemed ready to shoot.
 
Editing as Storytelling
This course will focus on editing as a tool to tell stories. Using Final Cut Pro X, students will arrange and cut scenes to enhance narrative and actors’ performances of the actors in their films, all with the goal of telling a story. Examples of professional editing techniques will be shown through weekly screenings of short films, commercials and music videos. The course will also cover postproduction workflow, Adobe Premier, HD formats, Ultra HD format (2.5K, 3K, 4K), Apple Compressor, workflow for various cameras, audio finishing, managing clips, metadata and media..
 

 

Random Short

Life After Debt
A short film by Drew Galante, SVA MPS Directing Class of 2011. An affluent socialite must adjust to her new conditions of a working class life. directing.sva.edu