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

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2015 - Spring

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

**Production/Screenwriting Courses for Studies Students**
 

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         *WRITING FOR FILM & ELECTRONIC MEDIA • 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         *WRITING FOR SERIES TELEVISION • CINDY MCCREERY

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 380N         ADVANCED TV WRITING: THE WRITERS ROOM • 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 384            CRITICAL STUDIES OF 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 384            NEW MEDIA LITERACY • KATHLEEN TYNER

This course explores the expanding nature of literacy in a digital world. The goal of the course is to create understanding of the social uses of literacy and the relationship between medium and message.  Through the use of new media tools and an awareness of the historical uses of literacy, students will explore concepts of multiliteracies and the way they change social practices over time. Students will survey international theories underlying contemporary media education and apply them to the uses of media in formal and informal environments.  Relationships between the theory and practice of alphabetic, electronic, mobile, social and digital media are explored through crosscutting techniques that highlight the content and contexts of mediated communication. Students will use promising practices and new tools in the field to practice and enhance their media literacy skills and to design innovative research projects. 

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          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 386              ALTERNATIVE POETICS • CHARLES RAMÍREZ BERG

This course is specifically designed for second year screenwriting and production students and for studies students who are interested in a comparative investigation of film form and film narrative. Beginning with the classic Hollywood paradigm (as delineated by Bordwell, Staiger and Thompson), the class will begin a survey (in weekly screenings) of alternatives to that narrative model. Among them will be the films of Yasujiro Ozu (Tokyo Story), Robert Bresson (Pickpocket), Carl Th. Dreyer (Day of Wrath), Jean Vigo (L'Atalante), Andrey Tarkovsky (Andrey Rublyov), and Ousmane Sembene (Black Girl). Additional films include W.C. Field's Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, and Casablanca. In each case the central question will be, "What is the narrative's organizing principle?"

RTF 386C          CREATIVE ECONOMY • S. CRAIG WATKINS

It is often said that we are living in the age of innovation marked by unprecedented social and technological change, a thriving creative economy, and the rise of the creative class. More generally, this is a reference to an economy that is driven by the shift from the manufacturing of goods to the creation of information, media, and software driven products, solutions, and services. A main goal of this class is to render the “creative economy” thesis more nuance by considering how factors such as race/ethnicity, income inequality, gender, geography, and social capital structure access to and participation in local creative economies. The class will survey a growing body of literature that carefully assesses the rise of digital labor in the creative economy (think mobile, app, and game development), media production, and the making of innovation hubs—vibrant regions marked by creativity, tech talent, and opportunity. Moreover, how has the rise of the creative economy transformed the future of work, the geography of innovation, the new "sharing economy," and the spread of inequality? With unprecedented social, technological, and economic development comes unprecedented challenges. Chief among them is a widening social and economic divide and a growing number of young people around the world who face the often hidden realities of local creative economies including boom and bust cycles of economic activity, itinerant work, and the presence of “white collar sweatshops.”

The class is designed for graduate students interested in innovation, new media technologies, the creative economy, diverse entrepreneurial practices, education, social policy, and the future of cities.
 

RTF 386C          MEDIA INDUSTRIES • ALISA PERREN

Three main objectives will guide us throughout the semester: First, we will trace the development – and increasing interrelatedness – of the media industries from the early twentieth century to the present.  We will focus in particular on the evolution of Hollywood’s film and television operations, considering the ways that regulatory and technological shifts, as well as growing impulses toward globalization, have intersected with industrial changes. Second, we will look at the range of qualitative methods that have been employed to research the media industries. In the process, we will read several “case studies” that provide examples of each of these approaches. Third, we will explore the emerging field of “media industry studies.” This field, which incorporates work in film, media, communication, and cultural studies, argues for the importance of integrating analysis of media structures with consideration of cultural and textual matters. Although our readings will focus most heavily on “filmed entertainment” from Hollywood, students are encouraged to explore such areas as video games, music, comic books, publishing, and radio in their final projects. Further, students are encouraged to apply the theoretical and methodological frameworks to other local, regional, and national contexts.
 
Among the books that we will read from in part or in total: Holt & Perren, eds., Media Industries: History, Theory and Method; John Caldwell, Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television; Dan Herbert, Videoland: Movie Culture at the American Video Store; Cynthia Meyers, A Word From Our Sponsor: Admen, Advertising, and the Golden Age of Radio.
 

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 387C           MEDIA AND DIASPORA • MADHAVI MALLAPRAGADA

This course will introduce you to the key conceptual and theoretical issues relating to media, migration and diaspora. We will focus on the relationship between race, ethnicity, class and nationalism in the formation of immigrant identities and diasporic communities; varied histories and contexts of migration including exile, voluntary emigration, forced migration; the response of nation-states to transnational mobility and the particular cultural struggles and political commitments of migrant subjects. We will interrogate such issues by examining how the media represent the identity, difference and hybridity of diasporic communities in specific socio-historical and cultural contexts. We will also discuss the politics of media technologies, texts, institutions and audiences in reshaping conventional understandings of media and diaspora. Readings for the course will draw from postcolonial theory, critical race and ethnic studies, diaspora studies and media and cultural studies. The examination of media in a diasporic context will offer us a rich site to explore issues relating to hybrid identities, border crossings, transnational politics, racial and ethnic minorities, strategic nation-states and flexible citizenships.

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 388P          SCRIPT-TO-SCREEN INCUBATOR, PART 2: FILM-MAKING/IDEA-MAPPING • 
BRYAN POYSER

This is the 2nd semester in a year-long Script-to-Screen Incubator. The two-semester sequence, a collaboration with the Department of Theatre & Dance, will serve a select group of RTF and Theatre & Dance directors, actors, writers, producers, editors, cinematographers, production designers, costume designers, sound editors and sound designers—as well as, possibly, students from other units on campus—including the School of Architecture, the School of Music, the Michener Center for Writers, and the Department of Advertising & Public Relations.

The spring production workshop is for advanced filmmaking/theatre students who wish to collaborate to create exquisite short-form narrative work. The class is also an Incubator for film-related intellectual property—and thus explores how the core creative components of the selected shorts can also serve as ‘proof-of-concepts’ for longer format versions of the ideas—be they television series, feature films, webisodes, video games or other transmedia.

Students chosen for the class—working with a pre-selected pool of student-created short screenplays (written in Part 1 of the Incubator)—will collectively and systematically break down the scripts, pre-produce them, produce them, and post-produce them. They will also, individually and collectively, map possible ways to expand/‘brand’ these short films into longer-form versions.

PREREQUISITES

  • Graduate: Completion of the first year of the MFA Film and Media Production program or good standing in the MFA Screenwriting program.
  • Undergraduate: Must be an RTF major with a University GPA of at least 2.25 and upper-division standing.

ENROLLMENT CRITERIA

Enrollment requires instructor consent, based upon: students’ experience level, work sample, collaborating ability, and a personal interview/‘pitch session’ with the instructor.

TO APPLY

Please e-mail BOTH Alex Smith AND Bryan Poyser with the following information and attachments:

  • Name/UT EID/Email address/Anticipated date of graduation.
  • What role you are interested in filling in the class (i.e., Director, Producer, etc.). Students can apply for more than one position.
  • A short sample of your creative (ideally film-related) work.  Links to password-protected sites are recommended.
  • A complete list of the film and/or theater and/or design/film-related course you have taken.  Include names of instructors & TAs, and date enrolled.

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           TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE • SHARON STROVER

In this course we will examine several influential books that address the interplay of media systems, technologies and society. The class does not have a single theme or one overarching question. Rather, the material we'll read during the term has been selected because it raises issues concerning the social context for which media, old and new, have defining powers. Our simplest goals will be to understand alternative conceptions of how technology is viewed, including its supposed "impacts" on society, its role in creating and shaping broad media systems and the attendant cultural reverberations. Theories of society are foregrounded in some of the readings, and occupy central positions in other work even though they may be more implicit than explicit. Our point of departure is that one cannot meaningfully discuss media systems without acknowledging the social context in which they reside, originate, function and evolve. Culture and cultural issues are defined and explored broadly as encompassing the common practices and rituals of everyday life as well as the long-standing patterns and values that characterize American society. The ways in which media systems or technologies are synonymous with modernity will be directly addressed in many of our readings. The social construction of technology, technological determinism, actor-network theory and the political economy of communication will be among some of the theoretical approaches we will consider.

RTF 395              THEORY AND LITERATURE: HUMANITIES APPROACHES • SHANTI KUMAR   

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 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.