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2012-2013 Visual Arts Courses
Landscape as Material – Joe Winter
This intermediate sculpture course attempts to understand landscape as the overlap of various dimensions--the physical, the cultural, the social--and will investigate how materials, objects, and systems occupy and transform these dimensions. We will employ landscape as the organizing principle in the selection, production, transformation, arrangement, analysis, and imagination of objects and materials within a sculptural art practice. Each student enrolled in the course will identify a specific landscape, location, or site to examine--e.g., the kitchen, the border, the prison, the playing field-- locating a point of departure for a series of studio-based projects. Readings, screenings, slide presentations, and site visits will allow us to examine specific landscapes, from the natural to the institutional to the imaginary. In doing so, we will attempt to understanding how landscape and space shape us and how we, as artists, can use, transform, and understand the landscapes we inhabit.
Screenwriting: Writing the Contemporary “Film”
It seems the contemporary “film form” is changing, certainly in terms of scope and venue. In the past, a screenwriter wrote “feature films,” television movies and/or TV series. Nowadays, the landscape for the screenwriter is far different, with opportunities to write producible short films, YouTube® sketches and web series seen by millions of viewers, as well as long-form “films” or “movies” initially conceived for and destined for the “silver screen” – a screen that is seemingly changing in color, size and setting on a daily basis. The ubiquity of HD digital production has made the use of the term “film” nearly archaic, as fewer and fewer films are being shot on film stock. As screenwriter, William Goldman has said, “No one knows anything,” and that has never been truer as it relates to the motion picture industry today. Digital video and the web have changed the film form forever. The disarray of the current film industry has created confusion and opportunity. Today, with the democratization of “film” production and the opportunity to create and have work seen by mass audiences, to say one is “writing a film” has less connection now to technical practices, and rather conveys a sense of the content therein and the ways and means of its intended consumption. The contemporary screenwriter then is often creating dramatic material for unique (and even multiple) platforms on screens as small as a cell phone and as large as an IMAX® panorama. Further, screenwriters and filmmakers are finding that their “feature film project” may ultimately find life as a multiple-part web series, or vice versa. The advent of writing screen-based material where “something happens” every five to ten minutes points to classic dramatic construction, regardless of the final venue. The baseline expectation in the contemporary narrative “film form” still remains: it is the expression of a character or characters progressing through a structured journey or series thereof. This course is for the emerging contemporary screenwriter, including those creating a new idea, adapting original material into the screenplay form, rewriting a screenplay or web series, or finishing a screenplay-in-progress, for whatever screen or screens s/he aims to assail. A review of screenwriting fundamentals during the first few weeks, as well as a discussion of the state of each project will be followed by an intense screenwriting workshop experience. Students are expected to enter the course with—at the very least—a strong idea, an outline or narrative roadmap of their project, possibly an existent screenplay or web series, as well as the capability of “talking out” the characters and story. The expectation is for students to finish a polished draft of a “long-form project,” be it a “feature film,” short film anthology or a web series. Published screenplays, several useful texts, and clips of films and web series will form a body of examples to help concretize aspects of the art and craft. Intermediate.
Writing Movies: Simple Screenplay Structure
This course is for students either in the midst of or at the beginning of writing a feature length screenplay. While the world of filmed entertainment is changing, with new avenues of distribution creating new formats and venues, some things remain the same—audiences are still hungry for satisfying narrative features to take them away, confront their fears, live out their fantasies, or elevate their consciousness. Paths may differ, but at the end we are all working towards the same goal—successful visual storytelling. This writing workshop requires all students to regularly present pages of either their screenplay or the outline for their screenplay for analysis and critique. The outline, based on the required reading, will form the spine of your film. The outline will be your guide in those moments of uncertainty when you’re not sure where to steer your narrative; it will be the roadmap for the first draft of your screenplay. The outline is a constant work-in-progress and will be revised concurrently with the pages you will write. Some knowledge of screenplay style and format is preferred, but not necessarily a requirement. Continuing students will finish a first draft of their project, while new students will complete their outlines and the first act of their screenplay. Intermediate.
Screenwriting: The Art and Craft of Film-Telling
How does one write a screenplay? One word at a time, articulating the action (“the doing”) of the characters and thereby revealing the emotional moments of recognition in the characters’ journey. Pursuing the fundamentals of developing and writing narrative fiction motion picture screenplays, the course holds a focus on the short form screenplay. We’ll explore the nature of writing screen stories for film, the web and television. The course’s approach views screenwriting as having less a connection to literature and playwriting and more a connection to the oral tradition of storytelling. We will dissect the nature and construct of the screenplay to reveal that the document—the script—is actually the process of “telling your film” (or movie, or web series or TV show, et al). In Film-Telling, the emerging screenwriter will be encouraged to think and approach the work as a director, because until someone else (if it is not the screenwriter) emerges to take the reins, the screenwriter is the director, if only on the page. With the class structured as a combination of seminar and workshop-style exchanges, students will read selected texts and produced screenplays, write detailed script analyses, view films and clips, and naturally, write short narrative fiction screenplays. While students will be writing scripts starting in the first class, they will also be introduced to the concept of “talking their stories” as well, in order to explore character and plot while gaining a solid foundation in screen storytelling, visual writing, and screenplay evolution. We will migrate from initial idea, through research techniques, character development, story generation, outlining, the rough draft, rewrites, to a series of finished short-form screenplays. The fundamentals of character, story, universe and setting, dramatic action, tension, conflict, sequence structure, acts, and style will be explored with students completing a series of short scripts and a final written project. In conference, students can research and develop a long-form screenplay or teleplays, develop a TV series concept and “bible,” initiate and develop a web series concept, craft a series of short screenplays for production courses or independent production, rewrite a previously written script, adapt original material from another form, and so forth. Research and screen storytelling skills developed through the course can be applied to other writing forms.
Making the Independent Web Feature Film
The course is a real-world, hands-on experience in independent film project development and production. We take the journey from screenplay draft preparation and breakdown, preproduction, casting, rehearsal, visualization and storyboarding, principal photography/production and editing/post-production process, on through to marketing to the independent film festival and web platforms. Students will explore all aspects of film development and production, while migrating to areas of specific interest. Students will gain a holistic perspective on the full spectrum of engagement endemic to the prism of independent filmmaking. In addition to working in all areas of project development and production, each student will breakdown a scene from the script, storyboard it, rehearse actors and co-direct a scene from the film with the professor. Working in teams, students will also help edit scenes for the film and prepare the film for exhibition. In addition to course credit, students will be conferred on-screen credit for their involvement in the project. Skills learned in the course can be utilized by the student in developing and preparing her/his own independent film projects. Advanced.
Cinematography – Composition, Color, and Style
For conference work, students will be required to produce a short project on HD Video (3-5 minutes in length) incorporating elements discussed throughout the semester. They will write the concept, outline the project, draw floor plans, shot-lists, edit, and screen the final product for the class. This is an intensive hands-on workshop that immerses the student in all aspects of film production. By the end of the course students should feel confident enough to approach a film production project with enough experience to take on introductory positions with potential for growth.
First-Year Studies: Finding Yourself In Film: An Introduction to Filmmaking
Students will be immersed in all aspects of the many facets of film production, from screenwriting, directing, shooting, and editing through exhibition. The first semester will focus primarily on the art and craft of screenwriting, where students will learn to think and write like a filmmaker. Students will emerge with a screenplay that they will then produce and direct during the second semester. In addition to written assignments to develop the student’s creative voice, video assignments in the fall will familiarize students with the equipment, techniques, and protocol of filmmaking. Film aesthetics and directing strategies will be explored, using award-winning shorts and feature film clips as examples. Students will form film crews from within the class and will learn the various roles on a film set. Basic production-management skills will be taught, which students will then apply to the making of their own short films.
Drawing: Translating an Invisible World
Drawing is an endlessly exciting art form that encourages experimentation and embraces mistakes. It naturally exploits the relationship between seeing and thinking. This course will challenge what you think of as drawing. You will learn about the tools of traditional drawing (paper, graphite, ink, charcoal, conte, etc.) and how to translate what you see onto paper. Simultaneously, you will begin to learn how to express yourself individually through drawing—how your drawings will be different from everyone else’s. We will begin with the fundamentals of drawing through observation (line, value, space) and move into more complex subjects and combinations of materials, even touching on collage and abstraction, and finish with a large-scale, independent project. Each week, we will work in new ways, continuing to build on what came before and often approaching similar subject matter in different ways. We will not keep our subjects at a distance but will try to connect with them, move around and through them, deconstruct them—really understand what we are drawing. Ultimately, what can your drawings reveal beyond what we all plainly see? While we may all be looking at and drawing the same thing, you will be asked to find your own solutions to problems, take your drawings in new and unexpected directions, and extrapolate from what you know and learn. This course will ask you to look at your world with intensity and to render the invisible on paper. Independent work outside of class is required. Studio practice will be reinforced through discussion, occasional written work, readings, slides, and gallery/museum visits. A studio visit with an artist in New York City will also be scheduled.
Drawing: A Big Evolution
Drawings demand to be changed over time through process—they are always evolving. This evolution will serve as the foundation for this highly creative drawing course. In class, students will work on observational and idea-based drawings over extended periods of time. They will work on each project in class for approximately two weeks and bring it to a finished state outside of class. Through varied, in-depth projects, they will gain a greater understanding of the techniques of drawing and learn to combine ideas and mediums in personal, thought-provoking ways. The choice of medium will be flexible and varied and will include charcoal, graphite, ink, pastel, conte, color pencil, etc. Additionally, students will be asked to directly address the scale of their drawings—from very small, intricate works to large-scale, exuberant pieces. The subjects of the drawings will vary widely as well—from detailed drawings of the human figure to abstract, conceptual drawings in color. Some additional subjects may include space, memory, time, narrative, installation, collage, imagination, collaboration, movement and time, color, and humor. Permeating all of this will be an investigation into ways of introducing content into the work. What will your drawings be about? Independent work outside of class is required. Studio practice will be reinforced through discussion, occasional written work, readings, slides, and gallery/museum visits. A studio visit with an artist in New York City will also be scheduled.
Games People Write: Narrative Design and Screenwriting for Games
In recent years, video games have exploded as a potent and pioneering new medium for storytelling. In this course, we will examine the role of the narrative designer/writer within the video-game industry—from concept and pitch all the way through the process of development, examining and imagining the varieties of ways in which games can tell stories and exploring the relationships between different kinds of interactivity and narrative strategies (e.g., how writing for an open-world, role-playing game might differ from writing for a side-scrolling platformer). We will write several projects that address the demands and opportunities presented by a variety of game genres and conventions, from open-world or “sandbox” games (e.g. Fallout, Skyrim) to “on-rails” linear plots (Deus Ex, Uncharted), “experimental” games (Passage), social games, and mobile games. In addition to creative writing projects, coursework and conference will be devoted to the close analysis of selected video-game narratives. And yes, you will be required to play games.
Art Games, Creative Code, and Experimental Media
This class focuses on code, games, and experimental media as an environment for art making. Throughout the term, the class will look at the history of artists’ use of code, digital, and experimental media, including movements that have used games, game mechanics, play, and interactions as a response to and critique of the social conditions of their time. The class will also look at current media projects, such as generative art, mobile media, playable movies, electronic texts, and interactive video environments. Informed by these traditions, students will design and produce their own art games or media projects. An introduction to programming for the visual arts, the course will also cover basic arts programming skills, including statements, functions, arrays, loops, events, logic, program flow, and programmatic animation. Conference projects may include image manipulations, glitching, small games and interactive environments, hacks, mods, machinima, data visualizations, new-media filmmaking, expanded and future cinema, small experiments with video installation, and android projects for mobile platforms. No prior programming experience is required.
Physical Computing: Beginning With Interactive Electronics
An electronics class for novices and intermediates alike, Physical Computing will teach us to use our hands and brains to better understand the function of the electronic world around us. This course will provide an introduction to the Arduino microcontroller, an open-source hardware/software platform. We will cover the basics of digital communication and interactive circuitry while learning about materials for electronics and basic electromechanisms. A background in coding is helpful but not required, as we will spend time going through programming basics. We will cover applied electronics and quickly jump into making interactive work. Through hacking and experimentation, we will uncover the physical mechanisms that allow people to communicate with electronics and for them to communicate back. Each week, we will work through the process of building and programming interactive circuitry, giving students a wide range of new media tools. We will learn about interactive circuitry from a child’s perspective, making the information that we cover intuitive, memorable, and ultimately useful.
Dungeons, Dragons and Drama: The Tabletop RPG
Tabletop, or “pen-and-paper,” role-playing games revolutionized the game industry beginning in the 1970s by introducing complex storytelling to games. Even in 2012, most story-driven video games are either RPGs or incorporate RPG elements; and many massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) are RPGs, as well. The goal this semester is straightforward: Create your own tabletop RPG campaign. And just as you read aloud a screenplay in a screenwriting workshop, our roundtable critiques will involve playing through campaigns in class.
Hacked, Glitched and Emergent Systems
This course investigates art inspired by error, noise, crash, and random processes. Paying special attention to the relevance that glitch and generative techniques have to new media, we will pursue the use of systems, simple rules, and random or semi-random events to create small hacks, glitches, games, and works of software art. We will also survey the work of contemporary noise & GLI.TC/H artists like Moradi, Satrom, Asendorf, Menckmen, and Briz. The goal is to build environments or to intervene in processes that the artist can set in motion or disrupt, giving these systems the means to continue, sometimes bizarrely, on their own. Any rule-based project or intervention is encouraged, especially small emergent games, machine hacks, software art, image and text glitching, recombinant video, and other generative media. This class requires no hardware or programming background, though programmers, hex bashers, and circuit benders are welcome. Open.
Designing for Physical Interaction
Physical computing is a discipline that puts technical tools into the hands of nonengineers and engineers alike, allowing us to incorporate the power of electricity and digital logic into our everyday environs. In this seminar, we will approach designing for physical interaction from a critical but open perspective, focusing on the junction between the user and the technology. We will trim and add functionality as we go along, honing in on the core experience that creates a successful project. We will study existing work while, at the same time, manifesting our own ideas by building them out and breaking them down. Student projects can be functional, purely artistic, or somewhere in between. Experimentation and learning through concerted effort will be paramount. This class will build upon our experience from Physical Computing: Beginning With Interactive Electronics, refining our practice of designing successful interactions and increasing our knowledge of the technical tools. Students wanting to participate in this seminar are not required to have taken Physical Computing but will be expected to have some knowledge of the Arduino platform and basic circuitry.
Digital Documentary Storytelling: Development and Production
Synthesizing theory and practice, this yearlong course explores the existential import of the art of documentary storytelling. Students are introduced to the eclectic palette of documentary production styles and approaches used in the genre. These are illustrated in screenings of seminal works by eminent directors: Maysles brothers, Newsreel Collective, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Sam Pollard, Errol Morris, Werner Herzog, and Jennifer Fox. The workshop also analyzes and deconstructs the works of successful box office producers: Michael Moore, Charles Ferguson (Inside Job), and Michael Rapaport (Beat, Rhymes, and Life). Workshoppers are encouraged to experience theory as a means of empowering their own production practices. The yearlong experience is designed to work both as seminar and hands-on workshop. In weekly seminar sessions, participants consider the ideological, ethical, and political implications of documentary production and examine the relationship between documentary films and social change. In workshop sessions, students are given the opportunity to create the short documentary they’ve always imagined: personal/autobiographical profiles, road movies, social-issue productions, anecdotal portrayals, and city symphonies. Over the course of the full year, students develop, research, write a treatment for, pitch, produce, direct, and edit a 10-minute documentary. Technical workshops in shooting and editing, scheduled during fall and spring terms, strengthen students’ skill-sets. In the full year plan of study, production and editing exercises and conceptual writing assignments provide experiences and resources for critical reflection and creation of documentary pitch samples and trailers. As participants produce their own short documentaries for conference, they also function as crew for other students’ productions. Ultimately, students are encouraged to explore the aesthetics and practices of documentary filmmaking as an avenue of self-expression.
Frame x Frame I: The Fluid Master
This course is for students who wish to “think cinematically.” It will be an intensive, hands-on introduction to filmmaking. Students will work individually and in groups to produce a series of fiction films. In addition to the required class work, students will attend mandatory craft courses in directing actors, cinematography, and editing. The craft course takes place one evening per week outside of class. The first film assignment, “The 2 Minute,” is a video project to be edited in camera. Students will not be allowed to review their material until it is presented in class. The second assignment, “On Location,” will introduce students to 16mm cameras and production. Six-to-eight classes during the fall semester will be dedicated to the second assignment, in which students will practice skills learned in cinematography, acting, and general set coordination. The final requirement is the conference project. Students will produce and direct a five-minute film, working with assigned crews. This will incorporate all of the technical aspects of film production that were discussed in lectures, screenings, and demonstrations: preproduction planning, budgeting, shot list, storyboards, and script breakdown. In this course, students will explore the structure and aesthetics of films from around the world while gaining practical experience transforming their own ideas into action.
Frame x Frame II: The Short Form
This course is for intermediate and advanced students who wish to “think cinematically.” It will be an intensive, hands-on course in filmmaking. Students will work individually and in groups to produce a series of short films. In addition to the required class work, students will attend mandatory craft courses in directing actors, cinematography, and editing. The craft course takes place one evening per week outside of class. The first film assignment, “The 2 Minute,” is a video project to be edited in camera. Students will not be allowed to review their material until it is presented in class. The second assignment, “On Location,” will introduce students to 16mm cameras and production. Six-to-eight classes will be dedicated to the second assignment, in which students will practice skills learned in cinematography, acting, and general set coordination. The final requirement is the conference project. During the semester, students will produce and direct a five-minute film, working in crews; advanced students are able to choose between fiction and nonfiction for their conference work. This will incorporate all of the technical aspects of film production that were discussed in lectures, screenings, and demonstrations: preproduction planning, budgeting, shot list, storyboards, and script breakdown. In this course, students will explore the structure and aesthetics of films from around the world, while gaining practical experience transforming their own ideas into action.
Working With Light and Shadow
This course will introduce students to the basics of cinematography and film production. In addition to covering camera operation, students will explore aesthetics, composition, visual style, and overall operation of lighting and grip equipment. Students will work together on scenes, directed and produced in class, that are geared toward the training of set etiquette, production language, and workflow. Students will discuss the work and give feedback that will be incorporated into the next project. For conference work, students will be required to produce a short project on HD video (3-5 minutes in length), incorporating elements discussed throughout the semester. They will write the concept, outline the project, draw floor plans and shot-lists, edit, and screen the final product for the class. Alternatively, in conference (with professor approval), students may also explore opportunities to work as cinematographers on other productions, such as the Web series project or films made in other upper-level production courses. This is an intensive, hands-on workshop that immerses the student in all aspects of film production. By the end of the course, students should feel confident enough to approach a film production project with enough experience to take on introductory positions in the industry—with strong potential for growth.
Working With Light and Shadow
This course will introduce students to the basics of cinematography and film production. In addition to covering camera operation, students will explore aesthetics, composition, visual style, and overall operation of lighting and grip equipment. Students will work together on scenes directed and produced in class and geared toward the training of set etiquette, production language, and workflow. Students will discuss the work and give feedback that will be incorporated into the next project. For conference work, students will be required to produce a short project on HD video (3-5 minutes in length), incorporating elements discussed throughout the semester. They will write the concept, outline the project, draw floor plans, prepare shot-lists, edit, and screen the final product for the class. Alternatively, in conference (with professor approval), students may also explore opportunities to work as cinematographers on other productions, such as the Web series project or films made in other upper-level production courses. This is an intensive, hands-on workshop that immerses the student in all aspects of film production. By the end of the course, students should feel confident enough to approach a film production project with enough experience to take on introductory positions in the industry—with strong potential for growth.
This comprehensive, yearlong course provides students with an opportunity to create short, animated, documentary films emerging from investigation or activist interests. The focus of this class is on the development of 2D animation techniques and approaches that embrace documentary film as a fine-art practice. Through creative process and research, students nurture documentary ideas that they then execute in animation or with a combination of animation and cinéma vérité sources. Practice in this course is integrated with theory, so that filmmaking is held within the context of critical and conceptual thinking about documentary film. To enable students to understand the fundamental processes of 2D stop-motion animation production, the first semester of this course is devoted simultaneously to story ideas and to technical instruction, including workshops in story development, drawing for animation, cut-out animation, lighting, cameras, and the After Effects, Photoshop, and Toon Boom software. With the recent explosion of interest in documentary film production, this course offers students the chance to discover their own unique style for the telling of existent stories. Working both in teams and individually, students will produce a series of short animation projects in the first term; in term two, they will develop a single film project of greater length and depth. Conference films in the spring semester will be approximately 3-10 minutes in length and suitable for festivals and/or Web distribution. Students should come prepared with two or three documentary ideas. Some drawing experience is favorable. Limited enrollment: 8 students
Animation: Claymation and Puppets
In this hit-the-ground-running stop-motion animation course, students will build sets of their own design, storyboard, direct, and shoot a series of short animations. Topics will include basic puppet construction, advanced set building, one-part molds, replacement heads, storyboarding, and animation. Throughout the year, we will engage in an exploration of aesthetics and techniques involved in the conceptualization, design, and production of direct animation in claymation and puppetry. The class incorporates a survey of the tools and techniques to successfully create cinematic lighting and design staging, timing, camera use, and action analysis. Fall semester students will develop skills through a series of short group and individual projects. In the spring semester, each student will have the opportunity to develop a more extensive film project for conference work. Emphasis will be placed on experimental story development, exploration, and refined, intellectually demanding, aesthetically progressive concepts in animation filmmaking. This course is open to all unconventional and adventurous students who are interested in personal expression and in animation as a highly dynamic, ever-evolving art form. No prior experience is necessary. Limited enrollment: 8 students
Video/Media Laboratory: Abstractions
This semester-long production course is designed for students who want to expand their artistic and creative horizons in the area of abstract video/media production from both practical and theoretical approaches. The course is essentially an experimental lab, where the development of abstract styles of filmmaking and online media are covered from the conception of an idea to the finished product. Participants will have the opportunity to experiment with nonconventional techniques for image creation in collaboration with other student musicians, composers, dancers, and visual artists. Working closely with Professor John Yannelli’s experimental music class and with dance, we will explore technical, conceptual, and aesthetic approaches to constructing films with directed shots, cinéma vérité, and free-media montage. Emphasis will be placed on producing innovative and creative films, media installations, video for dance and theatre, and audioscapes. Students will participate in technical production modules and exercises in which an exploration of modes of abstraction will be introduced. Focus will be on an exploration of structure and formats in experimental film and on film’s relationship to sound elements, performance, and location. The class will also function as an editing workshop with critique and feedback, as well as the study of existing works. Visits to New York City museums and galleries form an important part of this course. Students wishing to continue onto the spring course, Film/Video Laboratory: Experimental Narratives, may do so.
Video/Media Laboratory: Experimental Narrative
In this semester-long course, students will develop work that aims to challenge audience perceptions of traditional filmmaking while retaining an “audience reading” of the film’s message, point, and meaning. This is a production class, where the development of experimental-narrative film is covered from the conception of an idea to the finished product. Participants will have the opportunity to experiment with nonconventional techniques for image creation in collaboration with student musicians, composers, dancers, and theatre directors. Working closely with classes from other Sarah Lawrence creative-arts disciplines, we will explore technical, conceptual, and aesthetic approaches to constructing films with directed shots, cinéma vérité, and free-media montage. Emphasis will be placed on producing innovative and creative films, video for performances, and audioscapes. Students will participate in technical production modules and exercises in which an exploration of modes of experimental narrative will be covered. Focus will be on an exploration of structure and formats in experimental film and on film’s relationship to narrative, poetry, and experimental text. The class will also function as an editing workshop with critique and feedback, as well as the study of existing works. Visiting experimental filmmaker labs will be an important part of this class.
Character Development Drawing for Animation, Film, and Interactive Media
This course focuses on the concepts of character design and development as a preproduction to animation, film, and interactive arts. Students will gain knowledge in drawing from the model, from human anatomy, and by engaging with spatial drawing concepts in order to create fully realized characters, both visually and conceptually. Through the development of character boards, model sheets, and character animatics, students will draw and conceptualize human, animal, mechanical, and hybrid figures. Students will research characters in visual, environmental, psychological, and social qualities to establish a full understanding of the individual characters. Knowledge from this course can be used to create and enhance animations, establish a character outline for an interactive media project, or help in developing a cast of characters for a graphic novel or narrative film. Hand-drawn work will be at the core of this course; however, software such as Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, After Effects, and Flash can be used in some aspects for character boards, model sheets, and, specifically, for character animatics.
Storyboard Drawing and Visualization for Film, Animation and Interactive Media
This course focuses on the art of storyboard construction as the preproduction stage for film/video, graphics, and animation. Students will be introduced to storyboard strategies, exploring visual concepts such as shot types, continuity, pacing, transitions, and sequencing into visual communication. Both classical and experimental techniques for creating storyboards will be covered. Emphasis will be placed on production of storyboard drawings, both by hand and digitally, to negotiate sequential image development and establish shot-by-shot progression, staging, frame composition, editing, and continuity in film and other media. Instruction will concentrate primarily on drawing from thumbnail sketches through final presentation storyboards. The final project for this class will be the production by each student of a full presentation storyboard and a low-res animatic in a combined visual, audio, and text presentation format. Knowledge of storyboards and animatics from this class can be used for idea development and presentation of projects to collaborators, for pitching projects, for professional agencies, and—most importantly—for you, the maker. Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, After Effects, and Flash software may be used in the development of storyboards and animatics.
Writing for the Screen
This yearlong course, for the beginning to intermediate screenwriter, is a rigorous, yet intimate, setting in which to explore screenwriting work-in-progress. The course will investigate the nature of screenwriting and is structured as an intensive workshop. Students may either work on short-form or feature-length screenplays. They will read peer work, with the entire process supported by in-class analysis and critiques thereof. We will migrate from an initial idea through research techniques, character development, story generation, outlining, the rough draft, and rewrites to a series of finished, short-form screenplays or a feature-length script. Fundamentals of character, story, universe and setting, dramatic action, tension, conflict, structure, and style will be explored. In conference, students may research and develop other long-form screenplays or teleplays, craft a series of additional short screenplays for production courses or independent production, rewrite a previously written script, or adapt original material from another creative form.
Screenwriting: Structure: Sequences Into Three Acts
This is a screenwriting course in which you develop a single, feature-length story outline and screenplay. The emphasis is on your imagination—not your capacity for invention but your ability to observe and develop what you see around you. You should come out of this course with a complete story idea: its breakdown into sequences of scenes, as well as three acts; a full, detailed outline; and the completion of your first and second sequence. The first phase of this course will focus on finding the story that you want to tell and knowing and understanding your characters. You are encouraged to draw upon people and experiences that are familiar to you and to find a character that excites your imagination. We will also examine the importance of creating conflict and the creation of emotional arcs as a way of letting your characters help you develop an organic, believable story. The next phase of the semester concerns the development of that story into sequences—the building blocks of feature screenwriting. We will explore issues of escalating action, the role and use of subplots, and some different ways to create narrative forward movement (use of events, advertising, planting/payoff, preparation/aftermath) as they relate to the stories under consideration. We will learn about the basic structure of traditional “three-act” movies: “the main tension,” culmination, and resolution as they relate to the stories under consideration. The final phase of this course is devoted to finishing the outline of your feature film and writing the first and second sequences. Some of the writers may go further, and that work will be welcomed. Here, particular attention will be paid to the introduction and exits of characters, creation of conflict, use of location, costume, lighting, etc.
Writing the Television Series
This course will explore developing and writing an original television series. We will drill down into the process, investigating the art, craft, and practice of how to create and pitch a TV show. We will discuss what producers and TV executives seek in today's ever-changing and mercurial marketplace, how to “break in,” cable versus network, the mechanics of going “on staff” for a show and what the writer is expected to contribute, structuring a script, writing dramatic scenes based on conflict, creating strong characters, and crafting meaningful dialogue. And you will write and write and write. Students will pitch ideas and pursue a detailed series “treatment” in the first part of the course, with the aim of outlining a pilot episode and delivering a series “teaser” and first act by the end of the course. In conference, the writer can write a “spec-script” for an existing show as a writing sample for festival competition and industry notice. S/he could consider taking her/his original project to the next level, completing the pilot, structuring further episodes for her/his original series, and the like. Some previous study in screenwriting is preferable, but a passion for telling stories in the powerful and influential television form is requisite.
Filmmaking for the Web: Making the Independent Web Feature Film
The course is a yearlong, real-world, hands-on experience in independent film project development and production. We take the journey from screenplay draft preparation and breakdown, preproduction, casting, rehearsal, visualization and storyboarding, principal photography/production, and editing/post-production process through to marketing to the independent film festival and Web platforms. Students will explore all aspects of film development and production while migrating to areas of specific interest. Students will gain a holistic perspective on the full spectrum of engagement endemic to the prism of independent filmmaking. In addition to working in all areas of project development and production, each student will break down a scene from the script, storyboard it, rehearse actors, and co-direct a scene from the film with the professor. Working in teams, students will also help edit scenes for the film and prepare the film for exhibition. In addition to course credit, students will be conferred on-screen credit for their involvement in the project. Skills learned in the course can be utilized by the student in developing and preparing her/his own independent film projects.
The Director Prepares
From screenplay until the actual shooting of a film, what does a director do to prepare? This class will explore, in depth, some of the many processes a director may use in order to develop and actualize her or his vision, including: screenplay revision, interpretation and breakdown, character development, accessing and communicating visual ideas for the look of the film, studying camera styles, and movement in order to decide how best to visually realize the story through shot selection, staging, and casting. Each student will pursue a series of exercises, culminating in the directing, shooting, and editing of two exercises—one scene (a private moment) to develop character through cinematic storytelling and one scene, with dialogue, from the screenplay—in order to experiment with all the ideas developed throughout the class.
The Director Prepares
From screenplay until the actual shooting of a film, what does a director do to prepare? This class will explore, in depth, some of the many processes a director may use in order to develop and actualize her or his vision, including: screenplay revision, interpretation and breakdown, character development, accessing and communicating visual ideas for the look of the film, studying camera styles, and movement in order to decide how best to visually realize your story through your shot selection, staging, and casting. Each student will pursue a series of exercises, culminating in the directing, shooting, and editing of two exercises—one scene (a private moment) to develop character through cinematic storytelling and one scene, with dialogue, from the screenplay—in order to experiment with all the ideas developed throughout the class.
Producing Independent Film, TV and Video: A Real World Guide I
Producers are credited on every film, television and media project made. They are crucial—even seminal—to each and every production, no matter how big or small. Yet, even as a pivotal position in the creative and practical process of making a film, TV show or media project, the title, “Producer” is perhaps the least understood of all the collaborators involved. What is a producer? This course answers that question, examining what a producer actually does in the creation of screen-based media and the many hats one, or a small army of producers may wear at any given time. Students will explore the role of the producer in the filmmaking, television and video process, from the moment of creative inspiration, through project development and proposal writing, financing, physical production (indeed, down to the nuts-and-bolts aspects of script breakdown, budgeting, scheduling, and delivering a film, TV or video project), marketing, navigating the film festival gauntlet, as well as drilling down into the distribution process & strategies. A practical course in the ways and means of producing, the class will consider the history and current state of producing through case studies, nuts and bolts production software and exercises, and guest producers, directors, actors, and industry professionals currently working in film, television, and video. Students will gain hands-on experience in developing projects, breaking them down into production elements, crafting schedules and budgets, as well as learn pitching skills and packaging strategies. Course work includes proposal and treatment writing, script breakdown, scheduling and budgeting, pitching, and final project presentation. Conference projects may include the producing of a film or media project by a student in another filmmaking production class at SLC, a case study of several films from the producer perspective, the development and pre-production of a proposed future “virtual” film or video project, and the like. Designed to provide real world producing guidance and experience where anything can -- and will – happen, the course provides filmmakers and screenwriters with a window on the importance of and mechanics pertaining to the producing discipline and a practical skill set for seeking work in the filmmaking and media making world after SLC.
Producing Independent Film, TV and Video: A Real World Guide II
Building on “Producing Independent Film, TV and Video – A Real-World Guide l,” students expand their knowledge of the role of the producer in the realm of filmmaking, television and video, especially as it relates to the ongoing creative process. Diving deeper into the real world application of the producer’s role, and applying knowledge and skills from Part l, course work includes case study presentations of US and international producers and their bodies of work, fine tuning individual pitching skills, sizzle reel and trailer analysis, script coverage, box office analysis, navigating the film festival maze, understanding the roles of agents, lawyers and managers, examining the distribution process and release strategies, field trips, industry guests, positioning yourself for real world opportunities, learning "people" skills, and in-class final presentations. Conference work ranges from in-depth case studies to producing other students’ projects. Upon completing the course, students will have a complete understanding of the producer's role from creative development to final delivery.
Beginning Painting: Form and Image
This course is an introduction to painting in acrylics and oils and is open to the student who is new to painting, as well as to the student who has had prior art-making experience. The student will be painting abstract works. Drawing will be an integral part of the course: learning to work from observation of everyday objects and the figure. Class assignments will include color theory and color mixing. Each assignment will call upon the student to make decisions in order to complete the project in a creative manner. There will be regular class discussions on the progress of the work, as well as visual presentations on art history and on individual artists. The conference work will begin with drawing in a sketchbook and with individually assigned readings on art. The final conference project will be a large painting, which will be developed from the drawings and from the progress made in the student’s understanding of painting as a process. The student will be required to work in the studio in addition to the class periods,\ in order to complete the assigned painting and conference work. The goals of this course are to become confident in one’s ability and to take chances.
Studio Practice: 27 Paintings
This course emphasizes the role of technique, style, color, and composition in painting. A series of explorative assignments in oil or acrylic will challenge students to resolve problems of composition and narrative based on a broad scope of references and material investigations. Working in both large and small series, a total of 27 paintings will be made from various tactical approaches: observation, print and digital media, imagination, etc. Students will be required to maintain a sketchbook/image archive throughout the course and will learn to develop their own final projects based on their sensibilities revealed by working in series. Additionally, this course will provide ongoing exposure to historical and contemporary painting models through slide shows, videos, reading assignments, visiting artists, workshops, and field trips. Open to students who have had painting courses at a college or an advanced high-school level.
Contemporary Painting: Discourse and Practice
This painting course addresses the relationship of form and content in the expanded field of contemporary painting. A series of open-ended painting assignments will provide parameters within which students can navigate their personal interests, focus criteria, and deepen their technical practices. Projects will include observational and media-based image sourcing, composite spaces, abstraction, collaboration, stylistic homages, and fictional portraiture. Students may work in oil or acrylic and will be required to maintain a sketchbook/image archive throughout the course. In addition to studio production, students will investigate the historical and contemporary relevance of their work through readings, slideshows, and presentations. Critical and communication skills related to painting will be developed through critique and group discussions. Open to students who have had painting courses at a college or an advanced high-school level.
This class will focus on further developing the student’s work in drawing and painting from observation. We will begin by working from the model and from nature. Next, we will learn to see and translate architectural perspective into forms and space to serve as subject matter, as well as context. This class will be taught in acrylics, using pure water-dispersed pigments and a variety of acrylic binders. These materials will give the student an opportunity to experiment with a variety of painting processes, which then can be used to further develop the student's painting style and ideas. The structure of this course is divided between class work and individual conference work. There will be regular class critiques, slide presentations, and visits to galleries. In conference, each student will research an artist’s skill or a period in art history and give a presentation to the class. For conference painting, the students will be asked to work creatively and thoughtfully and to challenge themselves to take risks. The student is expected to work consistently in the painting studio outside of class time. This course is for the student who is able to independently generate and maintain a working momentum. Please bring to the interview documentation of prior work. This course is open to any student who has completed one college-level course in painting.
This is an analog black-and-white photography course. Students will learn the technical functions of the 35mm camera; specifically, proper film exposure through shutter speed and aperture control. Students will also learn how to develop their own black-and-white film. An emphasis will be made on learning a wide variety of techniques for the printing and enlargement of black-and-white film onto silver gelatin, fiber-based photographic paper. Weekly shooting assignments will facilitate the development of a personal vision. The class will engage students in a critical discourse of their own work, as well as that of their fellow students. Class time will be spent on technical lectures, lab demonstrations, and critiques of student work, as well as on slide lectures on historical and contemporary photography. This course is designed to engage the student in a creative photographic dialogue within a productive year. Use of the medium to express a personal aesthetic vision will be stressed, culminating in the student completing a portfolio of prints by the end of the course in which form, subject, and meaning are closely considered.
Basic Color Photography
This course concentrates on the technique and aesthetics of color photography, using traditional (analog) methods. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the very nature of a color photograph. Students will use color film and print color photographs in the darkroom; they will explore “color seeing.” Readings in the history of photography will be part of the course work. Open to any interested student, with permission of the instructor.
This wildly explorative class investigates the potentials of black-and-white photography, color photography, and the assimilation of the two. The history of the photographic medium will be explored. Editing, sequencing, and output size will be introduced to students through bibliomaniac explorations and gallery/museum visits. Students are welcome to use either analog or digital. The development of a personal vision, based upon a personal set of interests and/or beliefs, will be at the core of this experience.
This is a rigorous studio course, in which students will produce a body of work while studying the relevant artistic and photographic precedents. A working knowledge of photographic history and contemporary practice is a prerequisite, as is previous art or photographic work that indicates readiness for the advanced questions presented by this course.
Printmaking I, II
This course introduces the student to the basic fundamentals and concepts of silkscreen printing in an environment that practices newly developed, nontoxic printmaking methodologies. Participants will learn how to develop an image (either hand-drawn or computer-generated), how to transfer the image to paper, and how to print an edition with primary emphasis placed on the development of each class member’s aesthetic concerns. Exercises in color and color relationships will also be included in the content of this class.
Printmaking I, II (Monotype/Monoprint)
This course will provide an extensive introduction to monotype and monoprint (a one-of-a-kind print). Students will learn a range of techniques and processes, including chine colle, ghost prints, multiple plates, second pulls, and stencils. Using a variety of mixed approaches, students will explore, firsthand, the ways in which printmaking can blur the lines with other media. Students will learn through demonstrations, assignments, critiques, and a project that will translate their artistic vision through the flexibility and creativity that monotype and monoprint allow. Taught by a master printer and director of an independent print shop, the course will also introduce topics and skills from the professional world of printmaking, including collaborating with artists, handling prints, and finalizing prints for presentation. The class will include talks by guest artists and visits to print collections and print shops.
In the past, the book was used solely as a container for the written word. More recently, however, the book has emerged as a popular format for visual expression. Students will begin this course by learning to make historical book forms from various cultures (Coptic, codex, accordion, and Japanese-bound), so that they will be able to see the book with which we are familiar in a new and wider context. From there, students will apply newly learned techniques and skills, including computer-generated and -manipulated imagery, to the production of nontraditional artist books. The course will also cover all aspects of letterpress printing, including setting type, using the press, and making and printing with polymer plates. Whether text, images, or a combination of the two is employed, emphasis will be placed on the creation of books as visual objects. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have previously taken a visual-arts course.
This course offers an opportunity for an in-depth study of advanced printmaking techniques. Students will be encouraged to master traditional skills and techniques so that familiarity with process will lead to the development of a personal and meaningful body of work. The course will also cover all aspects of letterpress printing, enabling participants to incorporate text into their conference work, if so desired. Ms. Philipps will teach in the fall; Ms. Ancona, in the spring.
Concepts in Sculpture
What is sculpture? How do we make it? How do we talk about it? What does it mean? This yearlong course invites students to investigate fundamental-to-advanced concepts in sculpture. Students will gain a greater understanding of technique, materials, and process, with a specific emphasis on the integration of larger social, political, and aesthetic concerns and how to address them in the work. As the course progresses, students will have the opportunity to work in digital and experimental media. The course will cover the period from the late-20th century to the present. There will be regular presentations, assigned projects, and trips to galleries and museums. At the completion of each project, there will be a group critique where feedback is offered and process explored. Experimentation and personal expression are highly encouraged. Experience working three-dimentionally is welcome but not required. Please bring examples of previous work to the interview.
Time as Material: Sculpture and the Fourth Dimension
In this course, we will treat time as a central element in the conception, display, and understanding of materials-based art practices. While we will consider integrating sculpture with media and methods more typically described as “time-based” (such as performance, digital media, film/video), students will also be challenged to consider the potential of time, duration, and process to act upon or activate seemingly inert materials. We will attempt to propose alternatives to the idea of artworks as fixed forms and, instead, consider how objects, images, and materials might transform, evolve, decay, or accumulate over time. Through readings, discussion, and studio projects, we will examine ideas about time from a variety of perspectives (scientific, historical, musical, and cinematic, among others) and think about how these temporal modes can inform our making and lived experience of objects and art.
Architecture Studio: Designing Built Form
This course will introduce the student to architectural design. We will learn the basic language of drawing architectural space and the process of designing within that language. We will read and discuss a range of approaches to: 1) designing habitable space, and 2) how the process of design is applied to a range of interventions in urban and environmental design practices. This will include looking at and thinking about how architecture is an art, one that expresses the values of a culture. We will explore how environmental sustainability is influencing the design of human environments and how to incorporate sustainability into design. The course will be project-based and include drawing, model building, designing with 3-D software, and graphics. Experience in drawing is helpful.
Things and Beyond
This course will explore the possibilities for creative production in an expanded practice of what is loosely defined as sculpture. We will consider different ways of thinking about art and different ways of thinking about ourselves, what we encounter in the world, and what we can imagine doing as a result of our encounters. We will explore concepts in critical theory that question the role of art, how it is produced, and in what kinds of spaces/sites cultural production can take place. Experimentation with the integration of digital media into sculptural practice will be supported. The course will include readings in which we will explore how texts can enable different kinds of situations to emerge in which art is produced. In doing so, students will be asked to suspend (but not give up) their ideas about what art is and how it should be made. Students will have access to a range of materials—such as cardboard, wood, metal, plaster, digital media, and mechanical systems—with technical support provided in the handling of these media. Experience in the visual, performative, industrial, and/or digital arts is helpful. For the interview, students are encouraged to bring images of work done in any medium.
Digital Imaging Techniques
This course will cover contemporary digital practice, with an emphasis on Photoshop skills and imaging techniques from scanning to printing. Students will learn proper digital workflow, along with the basics of image manipulation tools, color correction, and retouching. The broader classroom discussion will emphasize computer-generated and -manipulated imagery as a new paradigm in contemporary art, photography, and culture in general. Through independent projects, students will be encouraged to explore the potential of digital tools in the context of their personal work—visual arts-related or otherwise—stressing open-ended visual possibilities, as well as technical and conceptual rigor.
There are many ways to define design. One way might be to say, that design is defined by opposites. On one side, design gives shape to things that are known. On the other side, design gives shape to ideas that are unknown. Because design touches wide territories of human interaction, designing requires tools to visualize, form, and communicate ideas, so that the ephemeral can transform into application. Through individual projects, students will encounter various design challenges. Together they will explore the public and the private understandings of objects. How objects relate to people, use, emotion, systems, culture, material, manufacturing, markets, and technology. Students will become acquainted with, or further develop, the 2D and 3D representation necessary to communicate in design. They will train their eyes and hands. While gaining an understanding of visual communication, and how it relates to design stories. This course specifically, will introduce and utilize; drawing (pencil, pen, etc) and model making (paper, cardboard, foam, wood), Story telling and storyboarding, (drawing, photography, Adobe suite).
The Body, Inside Out: Interdisciplinary Studio
This course is suitable for advanced visual-arts students interested in working with the theme of the body in transformative ways and across mediums. This will be a studio course, with in-class work defined by specific assignments meant to provoke students to investigate the body physically, psychologically, emotionally, scientifically, and socially. The body will be our jumping-off point, and students will be asked to explore diverse styles and materials and to think creatively and ambitiously. For context, we will look at depictions of the figure from prehistory through contemporary art. Students will research various artists and styles of art making and present their work in class. Visits to artists’ studios in New York City and visiting artists in class will also provide a foundation and inspiration for our work.
The Face: A Mixed-Media Studio
The history of portraiture is vast and rich in inventiveness, social commentary, psychology, and political power. The face, or portrait, will be our jumping-off point in this course. Students will be asked to investigate portraiture—self-portraits and otherwise—in creative and personal ways and across mediums. Students will experiment with point of view, scale, style, and various mediums. For context, we will look at the history of portraiture and how contemporary artists deal with the human face as subject matter. Students will be asked to research artists and styles of portraiture and to present their work in class. Visits to artists’ studios in New York City and visiting artists in class will also provide a foundation and inspiration for our work.
Color is a primordial idea. It is life, and a world without color would appear dead to us. Nothing affects our entire being more dramatically than color. The children of light, colors reveal the richness and fullness of all that surrounds us. Color soothes us and excites us, changing our outlook, our dreams, our desires, and our environment. Using a variety of methods and materials, this course will focus on an exploration of color agents and their effects. Not a painting course, this course will explore basic color theory, perception, and the aesthetic, physiological, and psychological relationships between color application and use.
A dialogue with peers working in a variety of disciplines, this course is designed for experienced visual arts students. It is a forum to share and discuss critical, creative, intellectual strategies and processes while building, nurturing, and sustaining an independent point of view. Each participant will be expected to focus on growing the values, commitments, and attitudes embedded in his or her own body of work and ideas. Experimentation, innovation, and uniqueness of vision will be encouraged, along with habits of discipline necessary to support all creative endeavors. Readings and discussion of art and cultural history are an important part of the weekly coursework. Open to juniors and seniors with prior visual-arts experience.