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Current Course Offerings

SPRING 2020

CMA 1500: Fundamentals of Film and Video Production

Prof. Jonathan Waters or Prof. John Warren

Technologies and techniques of filmmaking. Digital video cameras, staging and lighting, sound recording, post-production sound, and image editing.

 

CMA 1600: Introduction of Film and Media Studies

Prof. Jim McFarland or Prof. Iggy Cortez

Our lives are inundated by moving images. They cross cultural boundaries, inhabit various institutional frameworks, and involves diverse media platforms. This course serves as an historical introduction to major concepts of film style and moving image analysis. We will approach cinema not as a simple medium but as a technological trajectory with various precursors and descendants. From silent, to sound, to color, to wide-screen, to digital movies, the course will develop a vocabulary that describes the consistent elements of cinema—mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, and sound design—as well as considering different historical models of spectatorship. We will examine the changing forms of cinema production (including non-fiction, experimental, televisual, and other forms of audio-visual imagery) and explore critical methods addressing questions of genre, form, and meaning. Students will be expected to engage with familiar films in unfamiliar ways, and to view unfamiliar films with patience and openness, in an effort to understand cinema as part of an ever-expanding media landscape.

 

CMA 2250: 16mm Filmmaking

Prof. Jonathan Rattner

The objective of this class is to introduce students to 16mm film production. This course will cover the basics of 16mm camera operation, lighting, non-sync sound design, and film pre-production.  Students will gain experience as cinematographers, screenwriters, directors, sound technicians/designers, assistant directors, and editors.  Weekly group shoots, 3 short films (any mode or genre) directed by each student.

 

CMA 2300: Film and Media Theory

Prof. Jennifer Fay

What is film? What is the relationship between film and photography, painting, and the “real” world that a film may capture? What is a good film? How does a film affect, construct, or delimit a spectator? What is a film spectator? And might we push back on and resist the ways films construct us? What difference does it make when cinema is analog or digital, on a small or big screen, seen in a theater, at home, or in a gallery? Answers to queries as fundamental as these may seem obvious (“A good film is entertaining…”). But there is a long and rich tradition of film and media theory that is concerned with elucidating and complicating not only how we answer these questions, but on how we frame such questions in the first place. This course is an advanced introduction to film and media theory as a mode of inquiry. We will read some of the major works representing significant movements in film, photography, and digital theory from the early part of the 20th century up to our contemporary moment. We will also consider films, in their own right, as theoretical experiments in perception. This is a reading intensive class and the material is challenging. But it is very worth the investment!

 

CMA 2600W: Advanced Screenwriting

Prof. Krista Knight

Story structure, character development, and dialogue.

 

CMA 3891: Special Topics in Production: Creating the Web Series

Prof. Jonathan Waters

What is a web series? What new and interesting elements can be contributed to this now established medium? With the explosion of web-based content and movie streaming sites, more film and video content is being viewed on the web - rather than in movie theaters or on television - than ever before. Filmmakers’ reaction to this phenomenon has been to create and distribute short-form episodic “webisodes” online for themselves. Thus, the web series was born. In this course we will explore the short history and stylistic variances of web series content, with the ultimate goal of creating and releasing our own original series online by the end of the semester. Students will explore aspects of idea development, episodic scriptwriting, casting, shooting, editing, promotion, and distribution of the short-form web series, while also gaining more confidence in their overall production skills.

 

CMA 3892: Race in Film and Media

Prof. Iggy Cortez

This course interrogates the foundational role of race in the development of modern technologies and media theory. Moving across different periods and media formations, we will address how race as a social category and cultural fantasy has been materialized through specific film technologies, representational norms, and institutional networks. At the same time, we will also look at a range of films and television shows that challenge protocols for constituting race as an object of knowledge and control. Topics will include the racial bias built into visual technologies, digital surveillance, and race and digital cinematography.

 

CMA 4962: Senior Seminar on Film Practice

Prof. Jonathan Rattner

Advanced independent filmmaking, portfolio assembly, and professionalism.

Fall 2020

CMA 3892: Cinema in the Age of Trump

Prof. Jennifer Fay

We have witnessed a surge of extreme politics and radically different visions for America’s future. Mainstream and centrist positions appear to have given way to partisanship that finds expression at rallies, on social media, in political documentaries, and through news pundits. Mass media, in other words, has fragmented into particularized, partisan media in parallel with contemporary politics. “Cinema in the Age of Trump” takes stock of partisan film culture and the legal history of how cinema attained the status of political speech while news itself veered ever closer to mediated forms of entertainment. This course explores cinema as both an entertainment form and as a forum for political expression, one that has found new primacy in our current culture (especially in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee). This state of affairs requires us to rethink the distinctions between the politicization of film and the aestheticization of politics (to recall Walter Benjamin’s famous formulation), between personal and corporate expression, and the relationship between partisan film and democratic commitments. This course seeks to understand our contemporary moment through a legal and aesthetic history of political cinema in the US.

Bringing together legal history, political science, and media theory and featuring such directors as Michael Bay, Ava DuVernay, Michael Moore, and Jordan Peele, we will ask:  What are the film genres, directors, and character types that reflect and shape our current political moment? What is the relationship between the popular arts and populist sentiment, between emotion and political thought, and between artistic practice and civic engagement?

 

CMA 2400: History of World Cinema

Prof. Jennifer Fay

Cinema has always been a global phenomenon, even at the moment of its invention. As a narrative and entertainment medium, it has been subject to the demands of the international economy, political spheres of influence, and the forces of globalization. Writers, directors, and actors have often been well-versed in international film culture, and have, in turn, inspired the artistic production in their own film industries and in other countries.  In fifteen weeks, this course covers over a century of global film history as it unfolds in many different countries at various moments in time. We will consider not only those instances in which science and industry open up new possibilities for the medium while foreclosing others (particularly in the growth of the Hollywood studio system and commercial narrative cinema in the United States), but also how the exigencies of war, poverty, colonialism, and liberation (to name a few) have impinged on production, or served as the production's foundation. In addition to how filmic texts are produced and disseminated, we will also attend to shifting exhibition practices, particularly in cases where the exhibition site radically alters the meaning of the text. Though this course is far from exhaustive, the goal is to teach students how to think about cinema in general, and individual films, in particular, in a historical framework and to understand that all history, including film history, is a narrative subject to revision.

 

CMA 3892: Selected Topics – Werner Herzog

Prof. Lutz Koepnick

Few directors have challenged the limits of German and international art house cinema over the last few decades more consistently than Werner Herzog. Whether hauling boats through the Amazon rainforest, tracking deadly bears in Alaska, or mapping the devastation of natural or human-made disasters across the globe—Herzog’s films and protagonists are known for their uncompromising gestures, their unwavering exploration of different ways of being in the world, their unpredictable mingling of the ecstatic, the visionary, the bizarre, and the aesthetic. This seminar will explore the development of Herzog’s work from the late 1960s to the present. We will study Herzog’s seminal feature films, his unique contributions to the documentary and essay film genre, as much as his work for opera and installation art. Additionally, we will investigate Herzog’s status as an icon of indie filmmaking and examine the extent to which his films, amid an ever-shifting landscape of moving image art, have and continue to redefine what we might want to understand as art cinema. All readings and discussions in English.

 

CMA 1002W: Moving Images and Analytical Thinking – Bodies on Screen/Screening Embodiment

Prof. Mickey Casad

This course emphasizes social dynamics related to bodies and bodily experience on screen-race, gender, labor, violence, sensuality-alongside media depictions of "humanoid non-human" bodies such as zombies, cyborgs, and other monsters. Students will consider the ways in which moving-image media engage the sensorium: sight, hearing, spatial sense, adrenaline or emotional response, by analyzing media works ranging from pre-cinematic moving images to video games and virtual reality environments, in order to better understand the changing terrain of media-technological depictions of bodies and the ways they shape our sense of embodied selfhood.

 

CMA 1500: Fundamentals of Film and Video Production

Prof. John Warren or Prof. Alejandro Acierto

[Formerly CMA 105] Technologies and techniques of filmmaking. Digital video cameras, staging and lighting, sound recording, post-production sound, and image editing.

 

CMA 1600: Introduction to Film and Media Studies

Prof. Iggy Cortez

[Formerly CMA 125] Stylistic tendencies and narrative strategies, genres, and theoretical approaches. Live-action cinema, animation, experimental cinema, television, and computer-generated moving images.

 

CMA 2250: 16mm Filmmaking

Prof. Jonathan Waters

Camera operation, lighting, non-sync sound design, and film pre-production for 16 mm and celluloid film.

 

CMA 2260: Digital Production Workshop

Prof. Jonathan Waters

Digital cinematography, sound design, and editing. Individual and group projects. Offered on a graded basis only.

 

 

 

 

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