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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "DMA 330"
COURSE NAME: "Directing Workshop"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Erika Tasini
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: T 3:30-6:15 PM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: COM 230
OFFICE HOURS: by appointment

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
This course leads participants to acquire an understanding of the director's conceptual approach from script to screen. At the same time, the class will enable students to test and develop the practical and communicative skills that are needed in order to direct audiovisual productions. Such competence is indispensable when working on short- and long-format projects in a film, TV, and other creative and commercial contexts.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:

The focus of the class is on the director’s preparation as well as his/her practical experience with actors and camera on set. At first, we will examine the meaning of mise-en-scene as well as the specific skills and responsibilities of the director. The course will guide the students to understand the difference between a writer's approach to a script and a director's breakdown of the same material. Moreover, the course will highlight the very collaborative character of filmmaking. 

Consequently, we will delve into scene analysis, that is the director’s understanding of one scene in its integral relation to the entire film. A parallel conversation will cover the director's conceptualization of a directing/visual plan for the scene. 

The course features shooting exercises and a final directing project. Each student will shoot the scene during class time, by working in rotating teams: directors will work with actors and the rest of the class will operate as crew. They will edit their own scene and screen it in class. We will discuss the effectiveness of the director’s plan, assessing if s/he was able to execute such plan successfully.

LEARNING OUTCOMES:

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

 

Understand the specific skills and competence needed in order to work as a director.

 

Identify diverse directing styles and approaches in the context of narrative filmmaking history.

 

Analyze a screenplay in terms of dramaturgic structure, themes and content. Master scene analysis in order to break down a script and create a directing plan.

 

Understand “Coverage” as the industry standard approach to shoot a scene with a single camera.

 

Develop their own visual approach to directing a scene, by creating a shooting plan, a shot list and a coherent visual design for the segment.

Learn how to communicate their approach and objectives to the actors as well as the crew.

 

Understand and practice the roles and competence of the main collaborators who participate in the execution of the director's plan: not only actors and casting directors, but also directors of photography, production- and costume designers as well as editors.

 

Develop and demonstrate an ability to work in a team environment. Both as directors and crew members, they will be required to participate in a number of shooting exercises in the limited, allocated class time.

 

Be able to receive and give feedback on their directing assignments.

TEXTBOOK:
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
TBDTBDTBDTBD  
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
Attendance and class participation 20%
Shooting Exercises  20%
MIDTERM 20%
QUIZ AND READING 20%
FINAL ASSESSMENT 20%

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the co
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:

ATTENDANCE GUIDELINES:

This is a workshop: attendance and participation constitute 20% of your final grade. Each weekly class counts for TWO regular class sessions, so 2 or more unexcused absences will result in an F (Fail) grade for Attendance & Participation. 3 or more unexcused absences will result in failing the course.

A NOTE ON LATENESS:

Students are expected to arrive to class on time.  I will take roll at the beginning of class.  If you are not in the classroom when I call out your name, you are officially late.  Students are permitted two late arrivals.  Each additional late arrival will result in a TEN-point reduction of your attendance grade. Leaving class early or during the session will equally affect your grade. Any student arriving 20 minutes after the beginning of class or later will be counted as ABSENT for that session.

During shooting exercises, any student arriving late may NOT be able to participate in the shoot. 


ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS AND EXAMINATION POLICY
You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
ACADEMIC HONESTY
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.

SCHEDULE

 

WEEK 1 

Intro to the class, requirements, deadlines.

Introduction to principles of directing.

Screening: The Graduate, Mike Nichols

At home :  Paper 1: After watching the film again, answer questions IN WRITING (due on week 2)

 

WEEK 2 

What does a director do?

 

--- Understanding the difference between a writer's and a director's approach to a script.

----  DEFINITION OF THE SPINE OF THE FILM

---- The director’s approach to the scene in relationship to the entire film’s narrative structure and themes. Scene as the essential building block for the director’s work on the entire movie. 

A discussion of characters' arcs and the film's thematic/aesthetic goals in reference to the GRADUATE and other films. 

---- SCENE ANALYSIS: THE DIRECTOR’S APPROACH TO BREAKING DOWN A SCENE.

---- Definition of dramaturgy vocabulary – What is the scene about? What it the scene’s resolution? ACTION, CHARACTERS’ WANTS, EMOTIONAL ARC, CONFLICT. 

 

Clips 

THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN, Fassbinder (beginning)

YOU CAN COUNT ON ME, Lonergan (lunch)

Scripts

SIDEWAYS, Payne (p.48-49-50)

MARATHON MAN, is it safe? scene

 

 

At home exercise: break down an assigned scene and analyze it. (due on week 3)

 

READING due on week 2:

MIKE NICHOLS on THE GRADUATE

The Playwright's Guidebook: ACTION (recommended)

Proferes: chapter 2 and 3

 

FOR DIRECTORS SHOOTING ORDER IS ESTABLISHED TODAY!

 

 

WEEK 3 

Reading and feedback on scene breakdown exercises

 

SCENE 1

 

What does a director do? (continued)

 

- DEFINE ONE'S OWN VISUAL STYLE:

One director, one style: exploring different styles, through the screening of clips:

Let The Right One In, Alfredson

The Graduate, M. Nichols

Dial M for Murder, A. Hitchcock

 8 1/2, Fellini (beginning)

THE PLAYER, Altman (beginning)

 

The director creates the VISUAL PLAN for the scene:

The relationship between the content of the scene and the director's visual plan.

 

Examples of standard and alternative approaches to coverage: how to cover your scene. Marking the script in order to understand if the director’s plan provides him/her with enough material to edit the scene. Understanding the 'rules' of coverage before deciding if/when to break them.

Floorplan and storyboarding. 180 degree rule. 

 

Collaboration on the visual plan: how the director works with the Director of Photography, Production Designer, Costume Designer to create the look of the film.

 

In class exercise with coverage.

 

Scene for exercise 1 is assigned today. 

 

NB: MIDTERM is a ROLLING ASSIGNMENT, DEPENDING on WHEN YOU WILL DIRECT SCENE.  Each director will break down the assigned scene and create their own director’s plan. This will include shot list, floor plan and, if you want, storyboard. Students who DO NOT present this plan the week before shooting will not be able to shoot. 

Bring as many copies as students in class and instructor.

 

Reading due today (in addition to script THE GRADUATE):

Proferes Chapter 1/4/5

 

WEEK 4  

GETTING READY FOR THE SHOOTS:

 

-- SMALL CASTING SESSION 

-- HOW TO APPROACH REHEARSAL 

-Guidelines for casting and working with actors.

-Building a vocabulary for collaborating with actors and building a character's arc

-- THE PRODUCTION MEETING: DISCUSS DIRECTOR'S PLANS 1/2  with crew roles and what is expected of everyone.

 

EACH WEEK, THERE WILL BE A 40 minutes (20 per director) PRODUCTION MEETING FOR THE FOLLOWING SHOOT. Should the directors need to discuss their shoot further, they're encouraged to continue meeting with their team even as the class ends. Remember: What you give is what you get: the more available you are with other people, they more they should be with you, once you're directing.

Review of digital camera, sound and lighting equipment.

Students who do not attend this session will not be allowed to use the equipment!

 

On set organization. Definition of crew roles: ROTATING ROLES FOR  CREW MEMBERS ARE ASSIGNED TODAY!

-Director

-Assistant Director

-Director of photography/Camera operator

-Gaffer/ Sound/Camera Assistant

 

Each director is responsible for finding their own actors, location (see limitations) and props. Each director should set up rehearsal time with their actors by booking a room (based on availability) with Cathy Quinn. 

Directors will NOT be allowed to operate camera on their own shoot. 

 

--- Director 1 and 2  present their directing plan, casting and location choice, scene breakdown, shot list, floor plan and storyboard for their final assignment.

 

---Directors will not be able to shoot their directing final assignments UNLESS they present their plan THE PREVIOUS WEEK.

 

READING:

Profere Chapter 10/11

WEEK 5  

 

Shoot 1  (each shoot 1 one 35 mins)

Directors' meetings for the following week: 40 minutes (20 minutes each)


 

WEEK 6

Shoot 2  (each shoot 1 one 35 mins)

Directors' meetings for the following week: 40 minutes (20 minutes each)

 

AFTER SHOOT, Director 3 and 4  present their directing plan, casting and location choice, scene breakdown, shot list and storyboard for their final assignment.

Directors will not be able to shoot their directing final assignments UNLESS they present their plan.

 

WEEK 7 

Shoot 3/4 (each shoot 1,35 mins)

 

Director 5 and 6  present their directing plan, casting and location choice, scene breakdown, shot list and storyboard for their final assignment.

 

Directors will not be able to shoot their directing final assignments UNLESS they present their plan.

 

In class shooting exercise: shooting ONE of the scenes presented on week 6.  (two groups)

 

WEEK 8 

Shoot 5/6 (each shoot 1,35 mins)

 

Director 7 and 8  present their directing plan, casting and location choice, scene breakdown, shot list and storyboard for their final assignment.

 

Directors will not be able to shoot their directing final assignments UNLESS they present their plan.

 

WEEK 9 

Shoot 7/8 (each shoot 1,35 mins)

 

Talk down of experience shooting. Figure out what is ahead.

 

WEEK 10 

The MASTER SHOT/EDITING IN CAMERA: Lecture on scenes entirely covered in ONE shot.

LUMIERE EXERCISES

 

Screening of Clips:

The Sprinkler Sprinkled, Lumiere

Repulsion, by Roman Polanski

Stranger Than Paradise, Jim Jarmush

4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days, Cristian Mungiu

THE PLAYER, Altman

 

INTRO TO EX 2: In class 'Lumiere' exercise: students will shoot a ONE-SHOT short (or scene) understanding the concept of IN-CAMERA-EDITING.

 

CHOICES FOR FINAL PAPERS ARE DUE ON WEEK 10!

 

SPRING BREAK: work on your scene and directing plan for ex 2. Edit your ex 1. Do not wait until week 13 to edit!

PLEASE DOWNLOAD FREE SCREEWRITING SOFTWARE AND USE IT FOR YOUR SCENE. YOUR SCENE SHOULD NOT BE MORE THAN 2 pages. 

 

WEEK 11 

Each student brings a 1 or 2 page scene (not more!) to be covered in ONE MASTER SHOT. They may have written it or chosen it.  Suggestions: keep characters to a maximum of 2 and also, if you can, keep your dialogue to a minimum.

 

WE will look at scene and DIRECTING PLAN for the shoot.

 

WEEK 12  

IN CLASS SHOOTS Of EXERCISE 2  (DIR 1/2/3/4) (each shoot 1,15 mins)

 

WEEK 13 

IN CLASS SHOOTS Of EXERCISE 2  ( DIR 5/6/7/8) (each shoot 1,15 mins)

 

WEEK 14

IN CLASS SHOOTS Of EXERCISE 2 (each shoot 1,15 mins - if needed)

 

SCREENING: ONE TAKE FROM EACH DIRECTOR -- BE READY WITH THEM! (CLASS 14 MAY RUN A BIT LATE!)

 

PAPERS ARE DUE on WEEK 14. LATE PAPERS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED, RESULTING in A FAILING GRADE FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT.

 

and 

 

FINAL Presentation of edited SCENES 1 with feedback.

 

All directors need to provide instructor with one copy of their completed scene on DVD or USB key or WE TRANSFER ON the last session of this course. Late scenes will not be accepted, so if you're sending through WE TRANSFER you will have to send it by that time).