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Film Studies

Applicable for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Professors; SARCHETT, SIMONS; Assistant Professors HASKELL, NELSON

Film studies is a program administered by the Department of English. The program offers a minor to students with an interest in narrative film and video in addition to their major. The orientation is eclectic and aesthetic. We study cinema as a narrative art, whatever the genre of storytelling (fiction film, documentary, animation, experimental) or mode of presentation (theatre, television, internet). The curriculum is enriched by faculty in other departments and by visiting scholars, filmmakers, and screenwriters.

Senior film projects by students in any discipline are encouraged and supported.

Minor Requirements

The minor in film studies requires the successful completion of six units of coursework including:

  • Two core courses: FS212: Basic Filmmaking or FS240: Topics in Filmmaking: Directing the Fiction Film or FS260: Topics in Filmmaking: Documentary Form, and Filmmaking; and FS215: Introduction to Film Studies
  • One additional unit in film history/criticism: FS 315: Film History and Theory or FS 205: Topics in Cinema or a film study class on a specific subject (e.g. Hitchcock) or FS 305: Advanced Topics in Cinema.
  • One additional unit in filmmaking: FS312: Advanced Filmmaking or FS218: Topics in Filmmaking or FS284: Beginning Screenwriting or FS318: Advanced Topics in Filmmaking.
  • Any two additional film studies units, not to include more than one unit on non-narrative film/video, or of independent study.


Film Studies

FS205 Topics in Cinema:

Detailed examination of some specific aspect of film: a genre (the Western, Film Noir, the slapstick comedy, the documentary); the work of an individual director; the films of a particular country, etc.

.5 or 1 unit — Hughes, O'Riley, Sarchett, Simons

FS212 Basic Filmmaking

Examines the fundamentals of filmmaking - planning, shooting, and editing - via numerous short projects that culminate in a final public screening. Topics include framing and composition; cinematography, lighting, and sound, storyboards and shot diagrams; editing tools and techniques; digital workflow; and the processes of analysis, evaluation, and revision.

1 unit — Lowen, Sturman

FS215 Introduction to Film Studies

Film in its formal dimensions, narrative and non-narrative (documentary, experimental). How meaning and pleasure are created visually. Emphasis on film style: the shot, mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing (montage) and sound. 218: Topics in Filmmaking. Introductory course in specific filmmaking techniques and genres, such as Stagecraft for Film and Film and Video Animation.

1 unit — Butte

FS218 Topics in Filmmaking:

Introductory course in specific film making techniques and genres, such as Stagecraft for Film, Documentary Film making, Film and Video Animation. (Not offered 2017-18).

1 unit

FS232 The Films of Alfred Hitchcock

Study of the major periods, forms and themes of the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Included are comedies (To Catch a Thief) and tragedies (Vertigo), early British period films (The Lady Vanishes), classics of the 1940's (Notorious) and 1950's (Rear Window), and late masterpieces like The Birds or Marnie.

1 unit — Butte

FS240 From Script to Screen: Directing the Fiction Film

Examines the processes of taking a script to screen. Students develop, cast, plan, direct, and edit short fiction films based on extant material, working in collaborative teams and alternating crew roles. Topics addressed include writing for the screen; story analysis; the role of directorial vision; casting; working with actors; cinematic language and shot design; camera, lighting, sound; production design and mise-en-scène; and editing theory and practice. The course culminates in an evening screening of the student films. (Not offered 2017-18).

1 unit

FS244 American Film Comedy

A study of the major directors of comedy in American film, from Chaplin and Keaton through Capra, Hawks, and Sturges to more recent masters like Woody Allen the Coen Brothers and Wes Anderson. Includes important works in theory of comedy as context, from Freud to Cornford, Bakhtin and Frye. (Not offered 2017-18).

1 unit

FS260 Documentary Form and Filmmaking

Students create their own short documentaries while examining the history, codes, and conventions of the feature documentary film. Topics include narrative techniques, questions of form and genre, documentary ethics, interview methods, documentary cinematography, archival imagery, fair use/copyright, and editing rhythm and pacing, among others. Student documentaries are showcased in an end-of-course screening. (Not offered 2017-18).

1 unit

FS284 Screenwriting

Examines the fundamentals of screenwriting: theme and meaning, structure, narrative, dialogue, character development, and revision. Students will read, analyze, and discuss the screenplays for produced films; develop and pitch their own story ideas; and plan, write, and revise, by the end of the course, a significant screenplay project.

1 unit — Nelson

FS305 Advanced Topics in Cinema:

Studies in a wide array of topics related to film history, theory, and genres. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: Film Studies 215 or consent of instructor.

1 unit

FS312 Advanced Filmmaking

Emphasizes control of all aspects of the visual experience in service of motion picture storytelling. Acquaints students with advanced digital filmmaking techniques, including mattes, special effects, green screen compositing, and 3D animation, as well as the use of manual cameras, more sophisticated lighting methods, and motivated camera movement. Analyzes the concepts, language, and methods of film expression and stresses the processes of collaboration, critique, and revision. Culminates in a public screening of student work.

Prerequisite: Film Studies 212 or Film Studies 260 or Film Studies 240 and consent of instructor.

1 unit — Haskell

FS315 Film History & Theory

Film in its material, historical and theoretical dimensions, from its beginnings to the present. Growth of the film industry; the American studio system; European avant-garde cinema; world cinema; auteurism; film and popular culture; problems of genre. Film theory: the nature of the medium; its major theorists - Griffith, Eisenstein, Arnheim, Bazin, Kracauer, Metz, Mulvey, etc.

1 unit — Simons

FS318 Advanced Topics in Filmmaking:

Work is specific genres or with specific techniques of film and video making for advanced students.

Prerequisite: Film Studies 212 or equivalent.

1 unit — Haskell, Pray

FS330 On Location: Hollywood

Provides a hands-on overview of the history and of the creative, technological, aesthetic and business practices of the Hollywood entertainment industry, from its inception through the present day. Taught in Los Angeles.

Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

1 unit — Haskell

FS485 Senior Film Project

Capstone film or video making project for Film Track English majors and majors in other fields working on a senior project in film or video. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: Senior status & Film Studies 312 or its equivalent.

1 to 2 units

FS486 Senior Project: Film

Advanced study of film through film-making on a subject chosen by the student, approved by the department, in which the student completes a film in a workshop setting. Required of all Film Track seniors who are making a film.

Prerequisite: English 221, English 250, Film Studies 312.

2 units