271 Let’s Make a Movie

“Let’s Make a Movie”  –

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Spring 2011 – Example Syllabus

FLM/THR 271 – 3 credits-  CRN 34803/35811

Meets Mondays and Wednesdays 10:30 AM-12:30 PM in Theatre 101 “Green Room”

A.   Instructor:

Maya Salganek, Assistant Professor

Office Location: 109B Fine Arts/Theatre

Office Phone: (907) 474-5950

Office Hours:  Mondays 2-5 or by appointment

Google Calendar: https://sites.google.com/a/alaska.edu/salganek

Email: maya@alaska.edu

B.    Required Reading & Equipment

  • DV Filmmaking From Start to Finish by Ian Aronson. ISBN 0-596-00848-1 – O’Reilly Publishing.
  • Any additional readings or films are on reserve at the Rasmuson Library for 2 hour check out or will be posted to Blackboard
  • External hard drive I highly recommend that all video production students purchase their own external hard drive – at least 200GB (500GB recommended) for storing your video projects.  The drive can be formatted PC or Mac or both, according to your preference.  All video projects stored on the department’s computers will be deleted by JUNE 15, 2011.

C.   Suggested Reading:

  1. D.   Course description:
    Students will be involved in the process of producing a short dramatic video including screenwriting exercises, production development and design, storyboarding, location management, digital video camera operations, sound mixing, lighting, working with actors / directing fundamentals, and post-production development. An introductory course, students do not need previous experience making movies to take this class.
  2. E.    Goals:
  • Make your Own Damn Movie: Secrets of a Renegade Director by Lloyd Kaufman
  • Rebel Without a Crew: How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker with $7,000 became a Hollywood Player by Robert Rodriguez
  • Students will collaboratively create a final film from pre-production through production.
  • Students will understand the mechanics of film production and the roles of various positions on the set.
  • Students will begin to determine their own unique skills and interests in film production.

F.    Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Each student will participate in pre-production of film.
  • Each Student will participate creating sceneography, light, and sound design of film.
  • Each student will participate in developing directorial choices for the film.
  • Each student will work in various departments in producing the film (including gaff, electric, PA, art, camera, and directing).
  • Each student will have a clear understanding of the requirements necessary to produce a film.

G.   Instructional methods:

  1. The class will meet weekly for lecture/ “hands-on” demonstration of various techniques described above.   The class as a team will participate in the production of a final film, following the expectations of working for a film production studio.  Transportation to additional locations may be necessary for film production.  Much of the course material is available online via Blackboard.

H.   Course policies:

    1. 1.   Attendance:

          Attendance is mandatory.  Students receive three points for every class attended; two points for each class arrived to less than 5 minutes late, one point for arriving more than 5 minutes late, and zero points for not attending. Class participation and preparation is essential for this course.  Your classmates are counting on you to help make this project work!

Should missing class be inevitable, please be courteous and email myself and your classmates who are depending on you.

  1. 2.   Blackboard/Assignments:
      • The “Course Documents” folder includes a copy of this syllabus, research materials, software, a link to schedule editing time, and instructional videos.
      • Assignments are posted in the Assignments folder, and organized by Week.  You are responsible for all the assignments listed there. This syllabus is just an outline for class assignments and developments.
      • Staff Information includes my complete calendar so you can be proactive and make an appointment as needed.
  1. 3.   Cell Phones:

          Cell Phones are helpful tools in film production, but should your cell phone ring during a shoot you will be asked to leave for the day and will receive zero points. If it happened on a working set, you would be fired!

4.   Production Communication

Students in the class will need to decide on a main method of communication for production information. Facebook has been a popular choice. Blackboard, email, twitter, and UAF groups are other options. Once the class decides the format, all communications must be made utilizing this medium. Should a student have any problems with that, it should be addressed immediately with myself as faculty member.

5.   Equipment:

Each student crew is responsible for checking out and returning equipment (video cameras, tripods, microphones, etc.). As instructor, I reserve the right to remove you from any group or restrict you from working with any equipment should there be abuse, misuse, or damage done.  You will be billed for any equipment damaged.

  1. 6.   Editing Labs:

The Alaska Media Center computer lab (Music 305) has four MacPros loaded with Final Cut Pro 7 (Studio 3) for you to use. You will need your polar express card to access the lab. Each entrance to the Lab is recorded, so should there be a problem we know who was in the lab when.  Please sign-in and out when you use the computers (so I know how often you were really there editing).

  1. 7.   Production Teams: 

Each student will be part of a production team, which will rotate responsibilities on the set from week to week. I recommend that teams work together to share information and experience. Each team will evaluate one another’s participation on a weekly basis as part of the evaluation process.  Expressed interests and abilities in class will determine teams. Should you have any issues with members of your team, please see me immediately. Do not wait with issues until the end of the class.

Production Teams:

  • Directing
  • Cinematography
  • Production
  • Design
  • Lights
  • Sound
  • Editing/ Post-Production

8.   Set-up:

On Production days, all equipment must be set-up on location by the time class starts (10:30 AM) or you will be considered late.  Production days will be determined ahead of time, but are anticipated to be March 27-April 1, 2011, and production teams should ensure that all equipment and set up needs are covered, particularly with a location shoot. There are often days and additional hours needed for students to work on the film. It is expected that you will make every effort to attend as many shoot days as possible.

  1. I.     Evaluation:

Class Attendance (including make-up work):       10%

Team Participation:                                                            10%

Written/Production Assignments:                           30%

Artistic Contribution                                                           10%

Final Film/Paper:                                                     20%

Final Production notebook:                                               20%

Grading Written and Production Assignments:

The ability to communicate ideas clearly is the cornerstone of a great filmmaker.  To demonstrate good directing, you should plan to organize your ideas clearly, use correct grammar, spell words and names correctly, and demonstrate that you’ve thoroughly conceptualized and edited your work.  Effort put in to the pre-production will make up for problems during production and post.

All production assignments should be turned in with accompanying production material. Screenplays, storyboards, production schedules, contact sheets, etc. It is your responsibility to provide this information along with your final cut of the film.

It’s not “cheating” to ask for opinions and editing skills of others.  Instead, the discussion is positive and can bring new insights to your work.

The Writing Center (http://www.alaska.edu/english/studentresources/writing/) is available for students to develop their writing skills. Please visit or contact them for assistance, Gruening 801 or 474-5314.  For assistance with video production, please consult me, or your production team members.

I generally evaluate video quality based on the following characteristics:

“A” Production:

•    Demonstrates a high level of insight about the story –concept is clear.

•    Exhibits creativity in both concept and approach to the story. Technique matches intention

•    Well organized production with complete supporting materials (screenplay, storyboard, production schedule, etc)

•    Displays awareness of the audience and the kind of production suitable for that audience.

•    Is virtually free from errors in mechanics: Shots and edits “work” without dropped frames, gaps, audio inconsistencies, continuity errors.

•    Addresses the task set by the assignment.

“B” Production:

•     Demonstrates great skill in one or more area of production.

•     Exhibits competence in both approach to the assigned problem and use of cinematic language.

•     Features good organization of pre-production, although it may have minor flaws in organization.

•     Displays awareness of the audience and the kind of production suitable for that audience.

•     Is generally free from errors in mechanics.  May have some editing or filming errors.

•     Addresses the task set by the assignment.

“C” Production:

•     Story conveys general understanding of video production skills.

•     Production is adequately developed and organized.

•     Displays some awareness of the audience and the kind of production suitable for that audience.

•     May display some errors in mechanics, on multiple levels.

•     Addresses the task set by the assignment.

“D” Production:

•          Demonstrates a weak concept and/or pre-visualization– unclear story structure or concept.

•     Displays weaknesses in development or organization, or

•     Reveals the director’s unawareness of the kind of production suitable for the audience, or

•     Reveals a pattern of errors in mechanics

•     Suggests a lack of understanding of the assignment.

“F” Production:

•     Work is incomplete, unedited, or

•     Unorganized for production

•     Reveals the director’s unawareness of the kind of production suitable for the audience, or

•     Reveals a pattern of errors in mechanics on multiple levels

•     Complete lack of understanding or disregard of the assignment.

All work will be evaluated using a +/- grading system as follows:

A+ = 100-97%           A = 93-96%                A- = 90-92%

B+ = 87-89%             B = 83-86%                 B- = 80-82%

C+ = 77-79%              C = 73-76%                C- = 70-72%

D+ = 67-79%             D = 63-66%               D- = 60-62%

F = 59 – 0%

Disability Services:

The Office of Disability Services implements the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and insures that UAF students have equal access to the campus and course materials. Should you, for any reason, need additional assistance in meeting the demands of this course, please contact the Office of Disabilities Services (203 WHIT, (907)474-5655). I aim to provide reasonable accommodation to all students with disabilities. Should you need special accommodations or provisions, please meet with me after class, during office hours, or call me to discuss your needs as soon as possible.

Course calendar:   Tentative schedule. Readings should be completed by the date assigned. All assignments should be reviewed on blackboard.

Week Monday Wednesday


Week 11/24 &1/26WELCOME/FILMMAKING 101 Overview of syllabus. Intro to production teams/ Equipment/ Labs/ KUAC/ Schedules/Communications. Cost of Education. Have Read: DV Film– Preface & Chapters 1, 2 & 3.Filmmaking 101 Presentation. Assignment: READ excerpts of screenplay FROZEN RIVER by Courtney Hunt by 2/2.  Have read ENTIRE Screenplay of ALASKA LAND by 2/7.
Week 21/31 & 2/2THE STORY/THE SCRIPT Screenplays.  Have Read: all items on Blackboard:   Assignment:  Who are you on a film crew? Understanding the Story, examples from FROZEN RIVER.  Due: Who are You on Set? Assignments: Screenplay skits: U-A-F
Week 32/7 & 2/9THE VISION Production Teams Assigned Have Read: ALASKA LAND by Chinonye Chukwu.  Location Scouting – Alaska Land Breakdown.Screenplays Due: U-A-F Storyboarding, Animatics, Pre-visualization. Shooting to Edit/ Editing the Shot Have Read:  DV Film – Chapter 6 – Camera Motion
Week 42/14© 2/16THE LIGHT Working with Actors-Casting/Auditions:  Recording setups, log sheets, audition forms, model releases.  Location photos uploads Due for Alaska Land. Due:   Due Break Down and Storyboard photos for U-A-F Have Read: DV Film – Chapter 4 – Lighting, Guest speaker: Dave Selle
Week 52/21 & 2/23THE SOUND SHOOT: “U” Have Read: DV Film­- Chapters 7-8 Audio. Voice-overs, Audio effects, soundtracks, Audio editing. SHOOT: “A”Have Read: DV Film­- Chapters 17-18 Sound Design
Week 62/28 & 3/2THE BODY SHOOT: “F” Have Read: DV Film – Chapter 5 – Shooting for Effects   Alaska Land AUDITIONS – Salisbury LAB Theatre(May be held prior or following weekend, depending on director.)
Week 73/7 & 3/9THE CUT Have Read: Dv Film: Chapters 9 – 10 EditingIn Class Editing Projects MIDTERM  Editing Exercise Due.
Week 83/14 & 3/16  Spring Break No Class Spring Break – No Class
Week 93/21 & 3/23THE LOOK Have Read: Dv Film: 11-13 Effects.  Rehearsal.Producing Feature Film – Breakdowns  



Week 103/28 & 3/30 PRODUCTIONAlaska Land: Feature Film Production 3/27-4/10 & Making Of…(EPK) PRODUCTION



Week 124/11 & 4/13 Wrap Post-Mortem
Week 13  4/18 & 4/20 Have Read:  Dv Film: Chapters 14 &15 – Titles Rough Cuts Due. DVD Production Overview of DVD Studio ProWinter’s Tale Opens Friday 4/22/11 @ 7:30 PM
Week 144/25 & 4/27 Have Read:  Dv Film: Chapter 16 – Color Have Read:  Dv Film: Chapter A (pg 253) Release Print/ DVD Production
Week 155/2 & 5/4 Have Read:  Dv Film: Chapter B (Pg 273) – The Sale FINAL – Production Notebooks Due
FINAL EXAM Wednesday May 1110:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m., Final Exam Scheduled (11:45-12:45 Slot)Wrap Party & Screening