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

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2017 - Spring

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

RTF 380         RESEARCH METHODS • ALISA PERREN

This course provides an introduction to research theory and design for media studies graduate students. There are three primary objectives to the course: First, we will address the major considerations involved with developing and designing research projects as well as consider the potential ethical, political, and logistical challenges involved in undertaking research. Second, we will survey the range of qualitative research methods employed by media studies scholars and discuss the key considerations involved in employing these methods. We will examine different types of methods involved in dealing with people (e.g., interviewing, observation) and in dealing with texts (e.g., archival research, discourse analysis). Students will be asked to undertake assignments in which they review and analyze varied types of published research. Third, students will be asked synthesize our semester-long survey of methodological challenges, concerns, and practices by developing their own research proposal.

RTF 380G.2    SOCIAL CAPITAL & SOCIAL NETWORKS • WENHONG CHEN

The seminal work of Robert Putnam on the decline of social capital in the US has generated a growing multidisciplinary literature. Social capital can come in many forms (trust, civic engagement, community attachment, and social networks) and has become one of the most contested concepts in social sciences. What makes social capital unique is its relational nature. Social network analysis provides a critical lens and powerful tools to understand the causes and consequences of social capital. Social network analysis focuses on how connections and structural positions affect fundamental issues such as cognition, creativity, cultural capital, social status, information flow, political coalition, interlocking directorates, social movement and social change. Scholars and pundits have been debating on the implications of new communication technologies and digital media for network structure and social capital at the individual and community levels. This course is designed to balance theories, methods, and applications, drawing on literatures from sociology, communication, media studies, and management. It begins with key concepts and theories of social capital and social networks. In the second part, we explore the relational and structural embeddedness of actors, communities, and organizations. In the third part, we focus on how to collect network data and do network analysis.

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       ADAPTATION • BEAU THORNE

This course will provide a pragmatic, hands-on approach to several skills crucial to the screenwriter's craft: adapting a screenplay from existing material, and executing creative work "on assignment". Students will write a film adaptation of a short story or similar source material, which will be assigned by the instructor. Students will also create an outline or treatment, revise their writing extensively, and engage in weekly discussions of each other's work.

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 384         CRITICAL STUDIES IN FILM & TV STARDOM • MARY BELTRAN

Stardom is a central phenomenon of popular culture, driving film, television, and media production and a constellation of ancillary industries, in addition influencing the American and global public in a variety of ways. Yet it seldom is the object of study. What is stardom, and what can stars teach us about the entertainment media industries, social history, and contemporary concerns? And how has the construction and meaning of stardom and celebrity evolved since the days of the Hollywood studio system? This seminar foregrounds these questions in its exploration of the cultural phenomenon of mediated stardom and of media and film studies scholarship making sense of it. Among other topics, we will explore the development of stardom in the context of the entertainment media industries, the reading of star images as cultural texts, the evolution of popular stars in relation to shifting ideals of race, class, gender, and sexuality, the cultural and theoretical issues that stars raise, and new permutations of stardom and celebrity culture in the contemporary media environment.

RTF 385K       FILM HISTORY FOR MFAS • 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 385L        AUTHORSHIP, INDUSTRY, AND ARCHIVAL METHODS • TOM SCHATZ

This course will examine filmmaking practices and the mode or production in the American film industry during Hollywood’s classical and post-classical periods, focusing heavily on theories of authorship and archival research methods. Utilizing the resources at the Harry Ransom Center, we will gauge the contributions of a wide range of individuals to the production process – from classical Hollywood figures like Gloria Swanson, Alfred Hitchcock, David Selznick, and Ben Hecht, to key figures in the burgeoning New Hollywood like Ernest Lehmann, Robert De Niro, and Paul Schrader. You will be required to write a major research paper for the course, and the readings will include key works on film authorship and film historiography, along with a wide array of scholarly and journalistic writings that rely primarily on archival research.

RTF 386C  HBO AND POST-NETWORK TELEVISION • SUSAN McLELAND

At the beginning of the 21st century, the Home Box Office pay cable network began promoting itself by declaring, “It’s not TV…it’s HBO.” The slogan suggested that HBO offered its subscribers something qualitatively different from—and significantly better than—standard broadcast fare. Critics lauded and viewers reserved their watercooler talk for HBO original series from The Sopranos and Sex and the City to Game of Thrones and Veep, and celebrities and top producers sought HBO financing and distribution for pet projects. The most recent Emmys continued HBO’s longtime dominance of the awards, despite strong competition from streaming entities and other channels that have been designed or retooled to explicitly challenge HBO’s lock on “quality” and award-bait television.

This course will use HBO as a case study to look at changes in the television industry from the inception of satellite transmission in the 1970s to the streaming era. Along the way, we’ll discuss the ways that technological innovation, a unique regulatory environment and business conglomeration have contributed to its programming. We will take a three-pronged approach to studying HBO, looking at the place it has carved out in the entertainment industry, some of the texts it creates or appropriates as its own, and the ways it constitutes and responds to its audience. Within each of these areas, we will tease out assumptions about what “television” is, what HBO is, and whether the two terms share any significant characteristics.

HBO and Post-Network Television will be structured like a graduate or honors seminar. Advanced undergraduates interested in learning more about graduate school, or graduate students seeking a more introductory approach to advanced theoretical materials are especially encouraged to enroll in the course.

RTF 387C       POSTCOLONIAL CINEMAS • SHANTI KUMAR

This course provides an in-depth introduction to debates in postcolonial studies on a range of issues such as the history of colonialism, imperialism, neo-colonialism, Orientalism, nationalism, subaltern identities, hybrid cultures, feminist theory, and diaspora studies.  It introduces some of the key theorists in postcolonial studies who have played an influential role in critiquing dichotomies such as the West and the non-West, and the colonizer-colonized relationship.  The goal of this course is to critically survey a diverse set of theoretical writings in postcolonial studies, and to recognize how the term "postcolonial" signifies a complex set of political, economic and cultural forces in world affairs; both historical and contemporary.

RTF 387F        LATIN AMERICAN MEDIA • JOE STRAUBHAAR

This course will examine key issues across Latin American television, film, journalism and new media. It will examine the role of media in politics, the relationship of media to national identity and state building; the build up of national media production and the flow of media, particularly television and film, into, across and out of Latin America; the evolution of key genres, like the telenovela, that have come to be identified with Latin America; and the impact of the new Internet based media on these issues. Theoretically, we will examine approaches that have originated in Latin America, such as mestizaje or hybridity, and dependency, as well as those that have been applied to it, imperialism, globalization and the development of geo-cultural and cultural-linguistic regions.

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/368        ADVANCED CINEMATOGRAPHY • PJ RAVAL

This course is designed for students to explore the art of cinematography beyond the basic principles of camera and lighting. Students will film several assignments designed to help one understand the cinematic tools used to create an overall visual approach to storytelling. A close study of film genre will also be emphasized as well as aesthetic and technical topics such as color, texture, lens continuity, and aspect ratio. We will also explore practical on set strategies and challenges.

Undergraduate students are strongly encouraged to take 343 Advanced Narrative Production or equivalent as a prerequisite. If they have not previously taken 366K Intro to Narrative Production, undergraduates will not be admitted.

RTF 388P        CINEMALAB • 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 388T        PRODUCING FILM AND TELEVISION • MEGAN GILBRIDE

RTF 388T is cross listed as the undergraduate course 367K. It will detail how things work in the supposedly noncreative side of the entertainment industry. The course will focus on the function and duties of a producer as he or she shepherds an idea through a project "life cycle": development, financing, pre-production, post-production, marketing and distribution. Lecture topics will mirror the project life cycle while students concurrently develop their own business plans/prospectuses for original film or television projects of their choosing. At the end of the semester, each student should have a complete and realistic business plan for a film or video project, one which is ready for presentation to entertainment industry contacts and financiers. Lecture topics will mirror the project life cycle while students concurrently develop their own business plans/prospectuses for original film or television projects of their choosing. At the end of the semester, each student should have a complete and realistic business plan for a film or video project, one which is ready for presentation to entertainment industry contacts and financiers.

Please note: This is a "Substantial Writing Component" course with three 5-6 page papers. RTF 388T is cross listed as the undergraduate course 367K.     

*This course fulfills a second year requirement for all MFA production majors. Other qualified students will be admitted as space permits, by instructor permission.           

RTF 390E        AUDIO FOR PICTURE: PRODUCTION AND POST • ANDY 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 395         THEORY AND LITERATURE: HUMANITIES APPROACHES – PHD • MADHAVI MALLAPRAGADA

This course offers an introduction to the most significant theoretical developments in critical media studies as influenced by the humanities and to the progressive politics that underlies such scholarship. This Ph.D-level graduate seminar follows the development of these ideas through various schools of thought, illustrating how the field has grown more complex, diverse, and engaged with and responsive to shifts in mediated popular culture, media industries, and audience’s media consumption practices over time. It will provide a broad working knowledge of the main interventions in critical media studies and of the scholars whose work fueled new trajectories. By the end of the seminar, students will have a familiarity with key concepts, movements, and approaches that have informed the critical and cultural analysis of media histories, industries, texts, and audiences.

RTF 488M       PRE-THESIS FILM: POSTPRODUCTION - YEAR 2 MFA• DON HOWARD

RTF 881KB     PRINCIPLES OF FILM & 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.