RTF Master Class
ABOUT THE MASTER CLASS
What is the Master Class? It's an actual class for credit, it's the RTF department's key visiting guest program, it's a radio show, and it's also an ad hoc career counseling service all rolled into one. Let's say Spike Jonze comes for a visit. A group of registered students review Spike's career, painstakingly select clips, and help prepare questions for John Pierson's conversation with him while also promoting the event to the wider RTF and UT community. Then a smaller unit of audio students records the two-hour class and edits a fast-moving 30-minute radio version for broadcast and podcast on Austin's splendid NPR affiliate KUT-FM. But even better, the wide range of guests from the film and television industries often wind up giving invaluable career advice in Studio 4D or after class in our semi-traditional barbeque hoedown.
John Pierson took over the Master Class in 2006, and has used his quarter century of professional experience in the film business to help secure the ten guests in the line-up each Spring semester. The list is long and includes Spike Lee, David Simon, Harvey Weinstein, Steve Buscemi, South Park's Matt Stone, Kevin Smith, Mark Cuban, Elizabeth Avellan, Mike Judge, Gus Van Sant, Lisa Cholodenko, Justin Lin, Frederick Wiseman, and Morgan Spurlock. On occasion we've moved to the bigger Student Activity Center for some extra special Master Class guests who were huge favorites in the university-wide community including Scrubs lead Zach Braff and the one and only Johnny Depp.
But it's not all marquee names and star power. Some times the best learning experience comes from excellent craftspeople who work behind the scenes. We've had illuminating visits from Michel Gondry's DP, David Lynch's editor, Quentin Tarantino's agent, Christopher Guest's producer, Little Children's screenwriter, Slumdog Millionaire's trailer maker, and the creator of Veronica Mars.
Please sample the audio links available on this page. As the regular opening to the show declares, in partnership with Austin Film Society we meet up once a week with special guests from the world of film to hear their stories of struggle and success and to get the inside scoop on their next projects. Audience members also get their licks in during a weekly Q&A when they ask Steve Buscemi if he was ever in 'Adult films,' probe David Simon on why he made Omar gay, and challenge Kevin Smith to choose between Darth Vader and Magneto in an iconic death match.
Spring 2012 brought another stellar group of guests to Master Class. Directors David Gordon Green, Lisa Cholodenko, and Justin Lin all spoke about their humble beginnings, festival trials, and Hollywood successes. Guest host Harry Knowles sat down with effects pioneer Tom Smith of George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic. Writer Peter Hedges expounded on his journey as a novelist, screenwriter, and director. And indie idol Richard Linklater returned to discuss his favorite movie moments with our own Charles Ramírez Berg. Other guests focused us on Austin: rising star Zach Anner spoke about how his experience at UT helped shape his new travel show, Paul Stekler talked about the dots that connect his PhD, his award-winning documentaries, and his directorship of the RTF department, and Terry Lickona recounted his time with Austin's best known cultural export: Austin City Limits. We wrapped up the season by beaming in the always animated Tom Rothman, founder of Fox Searchlight and former head of Fox Filmed Entertainment. You can catch some of these sessions in upcoming shows on KUT 90.5.
Listen to Master Class
The Master Class sessions are recorded by the Master Class audio team, which then goes on to produce and edit radio-friendly 30-minute versions for a monthly broadcast on KUT-FM.