THE PROGRAM
AT A GLANCE

Our 30-credit course of study is designed to prepare students for all facets of the independent filmmaking process. Working with noteworthy writers, producers, casting agents, cinematographers, and editors, students in the MPS Directing program explore 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.

Watch Our Films

Tuition:
$22,350 per semester, fall and spring (12 to 15 credits per semester)

Department Fee:
$1,500 per semester, fall and spring

Directing I & II

Students are offered firsthand experience in the creation and execution of a short film in the ever-changing world of media production. We will discuss and analyze Academy Award-winning films with the objective of studying various techniques. Students will learn how to employ the tools of cinema to tell their story.  Each student will be required to examine the challenges of directing a short film—conceptual screenwriting, directing, cinematography, and working with a production team to achieve his or her vision. The second semester begins pre-production. Students will continue to examine the art of directing while moving forward with location scouting, shot lists and production of thesis films.

Film, Language, Analysis, & 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. The second semester features short works, primarily from the East, and will focus on student-made films as well as digital works conceived in non-traditional modes.

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.

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.

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 their films directly to their intended audiences.

Editing as Storytelling

This course focuses on using editing as a tool to tell stories.  Students will become comfortable with the interface of Premier and Final Cut Pro X and move on to more advanced FCP editing techniques. They will arrange and cut scenes to enhance narrative and the performances of the actors in their films, all with the goal of telling their story. Real-world professional techniques will be applied, and examples of these techniques will be shown in the form of weekly screenings of short films, commercials and music videos.  The course will also cover the whole Post-Production workflow, working with an editor, all the newest HD format, Ultra HD format (as 2.5K, 3K, 4K), Apple Compressor, different camera workflows, audio finishing, managing clips, metadata and media.

Lecture Series I & II

The technical aspects of filmmaking will be examined in these courses through lecture and workshop formats. Lectures include a range of specialized topics relevant to, and which coincide with, each phase of production that students undertake. Workshops offer students additional hands-on experience in the filmmaking process. This course will continue into the spring semester examining elements of production and post-production, including sound design, production design, and location scouting.  Students will also visit professional studios to learn about color correction and sound mixing.