Graduate ProgramsMFA in Production PhD in Media Studies MA in Media Studies MFA in Screenwriting

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2016 - Spring

FOR CLASS DETAILS, INCLUDING TIMES, CLICK ON "FIND COURSES NOW" ON REGISTRAR'S PAGE
 

**Production/Screenwriting Courses for Studies Students**
 

RTF 380           RESEARCH THEORY AND DESIGN • WENHONG CHEN

Research method is the foundation of knowledge production. Drawing on literatures from media studies, management, sociology, and communication, this course helps students to develop a critical understanding of major methodological approaches. It aims to equip students with critical and creative skills in critiquing, doing, and communicating media research in the digital age. The course has three major components.

  1. We start with the epistemological foundations, broadly in social research and specifically in media and communication studies.  We will discuss how the rise of big data has challenged conventional modes of knowledge production.
  1. In the second part, we examine issues such as conceptualization, sampling, operationalization and measurement, observations of texts, people, processes, and contexts. We will draw on milestone studies in media studies, management, sociology, and communication to showcase research practices that generate useful knowledge and insight for scholarly and policy communities. Beside major quantitative and qualitative methods such as survey and interview, we pay special attention to mixed methods, comparative studies, global/transnational studies, and digital research methods.  Research ethics, especially politics and privacy, will be discussed.
  1. In the third part, students will prepare a research proposal step-by-step, taking into consideration of theoretical contribution, methodological rigor and innovation, policy implications, and resource constraints.
  1. Throughout the semester, students are encouraged to engage with the instructor’s various media research projects on topics including but not limited to digital inclusion, media entrepreneurship, social and mobile media. Proposals, questionnaires, interview guidelines, IRB files as well as data are available for qualified students to explore.

Upon successful course completion, students are expected to achieve the following goals:

  1. Understand major methodological approaches in media studies, especially recent methodological advancements in digital media studies
  2. Understand ethics, politics, and privacy issues in media research  
  3. Apply major methodological approaches to specific media research topics
  4. Recognize various opportunities, challenges, and implications of doing and communicating media research in a rapidly changing digital media landscape
     

RTF 380G         ETHNOGRAPHY & QUALITATIVE INTERVIEWS • JOE STRAUBHAAR

This course will introduce students to the use of ethnographic, qualitative interview, and survey research approaches to media studies, in both theory and practice. We will cover examples of media ethnographies and other qualitative studies by both anthropologists and media scholars. We will look at how ethnographic methods and thinking have developed, as well as other approaches to qualitative interviewing. We will also exam how surveys have been used to understand audiences and new media users. We will cover some theoretical material to enable students to understand some issues about media use, the digital divide and migration to prepare for class exercises with interview fieldwork and surveys in East and South Austin.

In the course, students will learn how to observe, write fields notes on, and analyze media and new media use both face to face and online. Students will learn how to conduct family history interviews and do interviews with three generations of several families to see how their use of media and cultural resources has changed over time. They will also work with recently collected.

RTF 380J         FIRST-YEAR REWRITING • BEAU THORNE

A continuation of the first-year screenwriting class taught in the Fall, this course will focus on the process of revision. As a part of developing an organized strategy for approaching their second drafts, students will also be introduced to the “sequences” method of screenplay structure. All students must have a completed feature-length screenplay ready on the first day of class.
 

RTF 380M         *ADVANCED SCREENWRITING II • STUART KELBAN

This course fulfills the second year, second semester writing requirement for all screenwriting majors specializing in narrative motion pictures and television. The goals of this course are as follows: That you complete a feature-length script suitable for submission to agents, production companies and/or contests. That you leave this course a better writer than when you entered. That you help your fellow classmates achieve the above two goals and vice-versa.

*This course fulfills the second year, first semester writing requirement for all MFA screenwriting majors. Other qualified students will be admitted as space permits, by instructor permission.
 

RTF 380N         ADVANCED TV WRITING: WRITERS ROOM WORKSHOP • CINDY MCCREERY

The class will develop and write an entire season of a one-hour drama with a known Hollywood Showrunner and two attached Production Companies, Pillar/Segan/Shepherd and Sundance Productions. At the end of the semester, the entire show will be sent out by the producers to every major network for consideration and the students will get full writing credit for their episodes.

RTF 380N         *WRITING FOR SERIES TELEVISION • STUART KELBAN

This course will explore how to write for both network and cable television, with an emphasis on 30-minute sitcoms and 60-minute dramas. The dramatic elements of each genre will be analyzed, with each student completing a "spec" script for a current sit-com and drama. Additionally, we will develop an original TV pilot as a class, from the original "franchise" premise through a completed story-outline for the pilot episode.

*Open to graduate students other than Screenwriting MFA candidates, as space permits by instructor permission.
 

RTF 384N          INTERNSHIP IN FILM & ELECTRONIC MEDIA

MINIMUM NUMBER OF WORK HOURS

To receive academic credit for your RTF internship, you must complete 160-180 work hours with the host organization. During the Summer this generally means at least between 15-25 hours per week for 6-10 weeks.

ACCEPTABLE INTERNSHIPS

The internship host organization or supervisor must be a professional company or individual currently active in and with considerable experience in some aspect of the film, video, television, audio, digital media, telecommunications, or radio industries. As an intern, you must be engaged in activities that provide meaningful professional experiences within one of these media industries.

RTF 385K          FILM HISTORY • CHARLES RAMIREZ BERG

This course is a survey of international film history for graduate students who have not taken previous work in the history and aesthetics of the motion picture.  It is required of all RTF MFA students in production and screenwriting.  Covering the development of the medium from Thomas Edison to Robert Rodriguez, the history of cinema will be approached from various perspectives (as a technology, an industry, an entertainment medium, and a mode of personal and national expression).  Particular attention will be given to the evolution of film’s formal elements.  Several assignments are designed to acquaint students with how research in film history is conducted.

RTF 385K          SOCIAL DOCUMENTARY • LAURA STEIN

This course provides a conceptual overview of the strategies, structures and conventions of documentary film and video with an emphasis on North America. The course focuses mainly on social documentaries, or documentaries that construct arguments about the social world, address power relations in society, and aim to raise awareness and motivate action for social justice. Students will examine dominant, experimental and emergent modes of representation; important documentary texts, movements, and filmmakers; and selected documentary genres. The aims of this course are two-fold. Students will gain knowledge of the current theoretical dilemmas and debates in documentary film studies and practice, including questions of how to define documentary, what constitutes the ethical treatment of subjects and subject matter, documentary's construction and positioning of its audience, and economic and legal constraints on documentary filmmaking. In addition, the course will emphasize critical thinking and viewing skills related to representations of the social world through audio-visual media.

RTF 385L          CLASSICAL HOLLYWOOD CINEMA • TOM SCHATZ

This course will examine the history of American cinema during the classical era, focusing on the Hollywood studio system from its emergence in the 1910s and ’20s, through the so-called Golden Age of the 1930s and ’40s, to the postwar decline and transformation of the industry during the 1950s. We will utilize an industry studies approach, integrating institutional, economic, critical and cultural analysis of (a) the studio system as the definitive mode of production; (b) the complexities of film authorship under the aegis of the Hollywood studio powers; (c) the principal narrative and stylistic trends during the classical era; and (d) the significant films and filmmakers of the era, and thus the vagaries of canonization.

We also will consider the historiography of classical Hollywood – i.e., the ways in which scholars have researched and written American film history during this period. Our main focus here will be on primary methods, and particularly the archival research that underpins much of the reading. For your term papers, you will be strongly encouraged to utilize the extensive primary research materials in various collections (David O. Selznick, Gloria Swanson, Ernest Lehman, etc.) housed in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC) here at UT.

RTF 386            RACE/ETHNICITY IN US MEDIA INDUSTRY • MADHAVI MALLAPRAGADA

This graduate seminar on Race and Ethnicity in US media industries will include a historical and contemporary overview and analyses of how ideologies of 'race' and 'ethnic' and racial minorities emerge within and shape US media industry discourses, narratives, texts and practices. The present turn towards notions of the post-racial, the color blind society and multicultural media inform the framework of this course. It will begin by looking at how race and ethnicity are relevant in today's US media industry climate--how characters are created, storylines are projected, cast members are selected and hiring practices are shaped--and understand the present by tracing back how historically US film ,radio and television industries sought to negotiate the 'race/ethnicity' question to a lesser or greater degree. This is a media industries theory class that will foreground the cultural politics of seemingly "neutral" and "quality-related" industry practices.

RTF 386C          DIGITAL IDENTITIES • SUZANNE SCOTT

This course will contemplate digital identities from a range of perspectives, with a particular emphasis on feminist, queer, and critical race theory.  In addition to addressing the flexibility, management, and performance of identity in digital spaces, this course will cover such topics as posthumanism, social media and celebrity, identification in video games, and scholarly branding practices in the digital age.  By framing how scholarly work on digital media shapes, and is shaped by, identity politics, we will examine social justice movements and hashtag activism (#blacklivesmatter) as well as instances of spreadable and networked misogyny (#gamergate). Additionally, this course will engage the identities cultivated by and through specific digital platforms, from a discussion of post-feminism and Pinterest, to a theorization of the “Troll” as an emergent digital identity.

RTF 386C           SCREEN THEORY • LALITHA GOPALAN

The course explores how the screen in its many incarnations has been a source of fascination for both viewers and makers. Since such meditations on the screen are extensive including formulations on film's relationship to photography, television, new media, and pre-cinematic forms, the course will focus on how the cinematic screen has long provoked theoreticians to consider the relationship between time, space, and movement. To understand the import of these ideas, the course will juxtapose film screenings (DVD projections to be precise) alongside a range of theoretical texts that grapple with different aspects of the screen.

RTF 386C          TELEVISION STUDIES • ALISA PERREN

This course has two primary goals: First, we will trace the development of television studies from a humanistic perspective, exploring a variety of critical approaches that have been taken in the study of the medium. We will look at some of the canonical texts from the last several decades and consider the ways in which they have continued to shape ideas in this still young field of study. Second, we will look at recent work in television studies as a means of assessing both the changing nature of television and of television studies as an area of inquiry. The readings for the class will explore the range of industrial/institutional, sociocultural, textual, and audience analyses, approaches, and issues presently being discussed by television studies scholars.

RTF 387C          GLOBAL MEDIA AND CULTURAL STUDIES • SHANTI KUMAR

In this course we will critically examine the political, economic, cultural and technological discourses of globalization in terms of the multiple forces which produce, sustain and disrupt global, national and local media. We will address questions of representation, production, consumption, identity and difference in specific cultural contexts, and pay particular attention to the role of media in globalization.  The goal of the seminar is to ensure that by the end of the semester, all participants will be able to map key issues, concepts, theories and methodologies for future research in this area of inquiry.

RTF 387D           MEDIA AND MIDDLE EAST • KARIN WILKINS

This graduate seminar will build from the fields of communication, media studies, and contemporary analyses of the Middle East, toward a consideration of how communication technologies and media structure and resonate with political, social, economic, and culturalcontexts in the region. First we explore television in the Arab world, as an industry working within a political and economic context contributing to and responding to cultural spheres in entertainment and news programming. Reality television allows us to consider these issues in more depth.  In the final section of the course, we reflect on the role of digital media in national (political protests in Iran) and global contexts.

RTF 388             RESEARCH PROBLEMS IN SPECIAL FIELD OF RTF

RTF 388C          RESEARCH PROBLEMS: DOCTORAL EXAM PREP

RTF 388P           ACTING FOR FILMMAKERS • ANDREW SHEA

This workshop explores the key elements of basic acting technique through active engagement in a variety of exercises and assignments: improvisation, monologue and scene study, observation, and emotional preparation. The goal is to develop a deep understanding of the job of the actor: to live life truthfully under imaginary circumstances.

RTF 388P           CINEMA LABORATORY • DEB LEWIS

Limited to 15 participants. In the cinema laboratory, we will make ten short films – some during class and some outside of class – with the emphasis being on making, taking risks and exploring the cinematic form on an elemental level. There will be failures and triumphs—all work strengthening and stretching our ability to express ideas and feelings through picture and sound. Cinema Laboratory’s practice of consistent moviemaking aims to create a space and time where filmmaking efforts are not expensive and precious, but intuitive, brief, engaging, and challenging in a fast-paced workshop setting. Motivated, hard-working, curious and highly creative students are sought to participate.

Throughout the semester-long laboratory, we will sharpen our cinema-making skills through attention to process and experimentation in order to move to a higher level of precision in our work. We will take many exercises from the notebook of Robert Bresson, who wrote, “It is with something clean and precise that you will force the attention of inattentive eyes and ears.” Precision arises through both practice and experimentation.

“The cinema language happened by experimentation—by people not knowing what to do…. I always like to say that cinema without risk is like having no sex and expecting to have a baby… If you don’t take a risk then how are you going to make something really beautiful, that hasn’t been seen before?”—Francis Ford Coppola

Cinema Laboratory seeks self-driven RTF graduate students, upper level RTF undergraduates (especially those in their last semester at UT), Photojournalism students, and students from the School of Architecture and the Art School. There will be a Wednesday evening lab for those from non-RTF departments to learn RTF protocol and basic editing, camera and sound work.

Undergraduates registering for this class will need to acquire emailed consent of the instructor. Please contact Deb Lewis with questions regarding the Laboratory: deb.lewis@austin.utexas.edu

RTF 388P           CINEMATOGRAPHY • NANCY SCHIESARI

The class is experimental in nature with an emphasis on sharpening visual awareness through practice. We will explore the potential for visual expression in both film and digital imaging. Using a variety of film emulsions, lenses, lights, DV and film cameras, students are encouraged to think cinematically in both documentary and dramatic forms. A number of readings and exercises are assigned to increase a student's technical knowledge leading to greater creative and personal expression. The semester will begin with assignments in documentary videography and move onto narrative and experimental cinematography projects.

RTF 388S            RESEARCH PROB SPEC FIELD RTF: PRODUCTION

RTF 390E            AUDIO FOR PICTURE: PRODUCTION AND POST-PRODUCTION • ANDREW GARRISON   

Required for first year MFA production students.
An intensive introduction to Production and Post Production Audio. The course is designed to prepare first-year MFA students to make good decisions about audio with a base of knowledge in ideas about audio and their practical application. By the end of the course you will demonstrate basic knowledge of various microphones, recording devices common to sound for picture, techniques of location recording, use of Pro Tools for editing and recording Foley and ADR, and an understanding of audio as a primary medium and as supporting medium by creating different sound track projects of increasing complexity from start to finish.

RTF 393N         COMMUNICATION LAW & POLICY • SHARON STROVER

This course examines communication policy in light of domestic and international structural, economic and technological changes.  We will investigate how notions of control, access and expression have changed during the 20th and into the 21st centuries, examining communication policies and regulation against a backdrop of technological innovation.  Our readings pursue the events and shifts in broadcasting, cable, telephony, and network communication (particularly the Internet) history in order to discover how original conceptualizations have become wedded to marketplace notions.   Copyright, Internet regulation, and media advocacy will be highlighted.

This class will provide an opportunity to write an original research paper and to meet with various communication policy leaders locally and nationally.  It is designed for graduate students in communication, new (and old) media, information studies, public policy, and journalism, among similar fields. 

RTF 395             THEORY AND LITERATURE: HUMANITIES APPROACHES • MARY BELTRAN

This course provides an introduction to the broad range of theories of society and media communication from the perspective of social scientists. The companion course, offered in the Spring, introduces theories of media communication from the perspective of the humanities. It is required for all new Ph.D. students in the department. We will review the primary theories and researchers in the field, with an emphasis on understanding the development of the discipline and its varied trajectories of research. The fall term will include discussion of theoretical bases in psychology, anthropology and sociology, and specific theories including the public sphere and public opinion, diffusion, media effects, internationalization/globalization and media, propaganda theories, various social change theories, and political economy and media, among others. The course will be conducted as a seminar, with in depth discussions of the books, articles and authors we encounter.

RTF 398R            MASTER'S REPORT                  

RTF 488M            PRE-THESIS FILM: POSTPRODUCTION • DON HOWARD

RTF 488M            MFA PRACTICUM IN FILM & TV PRODUCTION — YEAR 2 

You will sign up for this final 488M as an independent study with your Thesis Committee Chair. Or, with your Thesis Committee Chair's approval, you may take this required independent study in a subsequent semester.  

RTF 488M            THESIS FILM PRODUCTION

RTF 881KB           PRINCIPLES OF FILM AND TV PRODUCTION • SCOTT RICE

An introduction to the fundamentals of narrative filmmaking, this course gives students the opportunity to direct and edit a 3 – 7 minute short film. These projects will introduce students to scheduling, location scouting, storyboarding, workflow, directing the camera and directing actors. The films also serve as the culmination of skills learned in the cinematography and audio class, taken concurrently. Emphasis in the class is placed on collaboration, visual storytelling, performance and production value.