- All students are required to enroll in 3 hours of MPA classes per semester to remain MPA majors, including approved electives from other arts areas.
- Freshman and sophomore students are required to utilize MPA Foundation Electives from other arts areas their first year(s).
- Students are required to participate fully in all program activities, including productions, required screenings and guest filmmaker visits.
In order to graduate from the MPA program a student must have completed/fulfilled the following requirements:
- Introduction to Screenwriting
- Introduction to Production
- Film History
- Production Workshop
- MPA Critical Studies class (1 per year)
- Screenwriting class (1 per year)
- Foundations Elective (1 per year)
- Directing for camera
- Advanced Screenwriting
Students are encouraged to bring their own digital video cameras, tripods, and applicable software.
The Motion Picture Arts program is Apple Macintosh based, with Final Draft screen writing software.
Semester One and Semester Two Offerings
Introduction to Screenwriting
This course introduces the concepts of writing for the screen from an analytical and creative viewpoint. Students will learn about screenplay structure and format; explore the creation of character, setting, conflict, theme, tone, dialogue and subtext; and gain an understanding of how to use the tools of the filmmaker to create filmic language and write visually. Students are also given an introduction to some of the professional aspects of screenwriting and resources for the writer.
Text/Materials Needed: Notebook and writing materials, screenplays and handouts provided/loaned, Final Draft Screenwriting software recommended but not required.
This course is designed as an intense workshop for screenwriting students who are ready to work on projects of their choice. Having learned the basics students are now expected to further develop their voice as a screenwriter, create their own goals, and actively engage in analysis of professional screenplays. This course also includes further exploration of the professional aspects of being a screenwriter.
Text/Materials Needed: Writing materials, Screenplay copies and handouts provided/loaned, Screenwriting software recommended but not required.
First Semester Only
Introduction to MPA Production
The class is a hands-on introduction to cinema production, designed for first year MPA majors. Technical knowledge will be gained through discussion, demonstrations, readings and class exercises; videos will be viewed throughout the semester to demonstrate technical/aesthetic concepts in context of visual storytelling. Students explore basic skills required to design, shoot and edit digital video/visual stories and apply them to class projects, daily assignments, and exercises.
Text/materials needed: The Filmmaker's Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age by Steven Ascher and Edward Pincus. 5 Mini DV Tapes, Spindle DVD-R, Black Sharpie, Notebook, Jump Drive at least 8GB, Production Notebook separate from daily notebook, Leatherman or comparable Multitool.
In this course, students learn the fundamental elements of story - what a story is and how stories are told. Throughout the semester students study story as it exists in a variety of forms and lengths (novel, film, play, short story, song, poetry), examining the core aspects that span nearly all forms of storytelling, as well as aspects specific to single forms.
Text/Materials Needed: TBD
This course explores the historical eras of cinema from its birth in the late 1800s through current trends, focusing on Hollywood's formation and transformation as well as major International movements. Students gain an understanding of how technological advances, business practices, and cultural influences have changed the art of filmmaking, and how cinemas of different countries have influenced each other.
Text/Materials Needed: Film Art Textbook, Notebook and writing materials, handouts provided by instructor
Directing for the Camera
In this course, students have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of directing for the camera. Students work collaboratively to create 2-3 minute films in which each student will participate as both actor and director. Focus will be on the clear articulation of moment and story through performance and shot design.
Text/materials needed: Film Directing, by Nick Proferes; Changing Direction, by Lenore Dekoven
MPA Location Lighting
This class is a hands-on introduction to skills and techniques in cinematic location lighting. Through discussions, guest artists, demonstrations, and class exercises, this class explores the artful use of light, with emphases on aesthetics, exposure, instrument placement, rigging, safe use and motivation.
Text/materials needed: Grip gloves, Black Sharpie, 2 Sony Mini-DV Tapes, Jump Drive 256MB or more, Notebook, blank sketchbook
Second Semester Only
MPA Production Workshop
This class is designed to guide upper level MPA students through advanced skills in preproduction, production and post-production, in order that they may complete a Thesis Project.
Text/materials needed: The Filmmaker's Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age by Steven Ascher and Edward PincusFilm Directing: Shot by Shot Visualizing from Concept to Screen by Steven D. KatzGrip Gloves, 1 Black Sharpie, 5 New Sony Mini-DV Tapes, Jump Drive - At least 8GB MB, Notebook, Blank sketchbook, Ring binder, Leatherman or Comparable Multitool
This class is a continued introduction to cinematography and intermediate skills in camera usage, building on the foundations of technical skills and visual literacy learned in Intro to MPA Production and Lighting
Text/materials needed: Picture Composition for Film and Television, Second Edition, by Peter Ward Grip gloves, Black Sharpie, 2 Sony Mini-DV Tapes, Jump Drive 256MB or more, Notebook, blank sketchbook.
This course offers students an in-depth examination of film as an art form, analyzing specific elements of film to discover how they create cinematic language. Students will focus on the theories of narrative structure, mise-en-scene, color, sound, space and editing, and be able to identify how filmmakers use each element to communicate story, character and theme.
Text/Materials Needed: Film Art Book , Handouts provided by Instructor, Notebook and writing materials
This course rotates topic yearly, giving students an opportunity to immerse themselves in a specific movement, genre, or area in cinema. Critical examination of the subject may be explored through screenings, readings, discussion and written analysis.
Text/Materials Needed: TBD by Instructor
Advanced Directing for Camera
In this course, students learn advanced techniques of Directing for the Camera. The clear articulation of moment and story through script analysis, script breakdown and shot design will continue to be emphasized. Additionally, students will explore more advanced techniques of expressive camera, mise-en-scene and sound as well as other tools and skills needed to direct film. As much as possible, students will use the exercises from this course in tandem with or as preparation for their thesis projects.
Scenes and Shorts
Short films are a unique story form with their own rules, limits and opportunities. Scenes are the crucial building blocks upon which feature films are built. This course is intended to give exposure to and sharpen analysis of short films and scenes. Issues of drama and dramaturgy - character, conflict, escalating action, climax and resolution – as well as story, tone and meaning will be examined from a screenwriting, directing and acting point of view.
Great Directors, Great Films
This class examines the lives, processes and film work of important and influential directors of World Cinema. Students will read biographies and criticisms as well as watch and analyze 3-4 major films by each director. Directors will rotate yearly, but some possible directors whose films we might study are: Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa, Jean-Luc Godard, Jane Campion, Alfred Hitchcock, Francis Ford Coppola, Mira Nair, Stanley Kubrick, John Ford, John Cassavettes, Howard Hawkes, Emir Kusturica, Martin Scorsese, Kelly Reichardt and Satyajit Ray.
For each director, students will be expected to complete a creative project that demonstrates their understanding of some aspect of that director’s work. Examples of creative projects might be a study (a shot-for-shot recreation of an exemplary scene) or a short screenplay, story or film inspired by the life or work of the director being studied. Each creative project must be proposed and approved in writing prior to undertaking.