2014 - Fall


**Production/Screenwriting Courses for Studies Students**


This is an advanced graduate course that examines epistemological, theoretical and applied issues in communication research. The course aims to fulfill three principal objectives. First, to introduce students to the main epistemological and methodological debates that have shaped communication research with particular emphasis on an examination of positivist and post-positivist methodologies. Second, to develop an in-depth understanding of the theoretical and conceptual building blocks of communication research methodology including issues of design, selection, observation and inference. Third, to develop a grasp of quantitative and qualitative communication research methods, their techniques, assumptions, strengths and weaknesses and applications. These three objectives will be achieved through multiple means. At the core of the course is a set of methodological readings available in a required course packet. These will be supplemented by empirical readings that will provide students with an opportunity to review, criticize and analyze published readings. The readings and class discussions will be synthesized through a number of in-class and take-home assignments. The final assignment of the course will be the development and analysis of a research proposal with the focus on the methodological issues involved.


The purpose of this course is to explore how to write effective narrative screenplays, with an emphasis on the short script.   By breaking-down screenplays and films  (ie: figuring out how they "work"),  the class explores the basic dramatic principles of story, character and structure, applying these concepts to the development of original short scripts.  

At the end of the semester, students will leave class with short scripts ready to shoot in the spring RTF 881KB narrative production class.  


This course introduces one of the most complicated (and under-studied) components of the media industries:  Preservation.  Beginning with a contextualization of the field, and of its precedents in European collecting practice, public records offices, and museums, the course will employ both a theoretical and practical approach to archival media product.  Debates over the merits (and drawbacks) of defining media product as "artifact" will be complemented by larger discussions over the practical ramifications of copyright and physical deterioration - increasingly problematic areas for both the filmmaker and academic researcher.  Topics include:  preservation principles, the impact of access programs and strategies, and the role of the archivist or curator.  Utilizing the literature available as well as film and video resources of the University of Texas and the Austin community at large, students will combine an analytical approach to the history and theory of collecting with "hands-on" research - from Hollywood features and educational films, to home movies and the ever vanishing footage of the public domain.  


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.


The gateway course for entering MFA Screenwriters, this class focuses on writing the feature-length screenplay, which means delving into the three primary elements of screenwriting:   story, character and structure..  Students discuss and evaluate each other's work on a weekly basis, developing their critical skills as screenwriters.  By the end of the semester, each student will have a completed treatment, step-outline, and Act I of a feature-length screenplay. RTF Screenwriters will complete-and-revise their screenplay during the Spring, in the 380J companion course.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: 380J fulfills the 1st year/1st semester writing requirement for all MFA screenwriting majors. Other students will be admitted as space permits, by instructor permission.


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.


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.


This course is an overview of several different types of media production including HD, 16mm and animation. Students will learn basic lighting, cinematography, directing, editing and post effects. Since this course is designed for non production majors, no prior production experience will be required. Students also work through the process of both producing someone else's screenplay and having someone else produce their screenplay in order to get a better idea of the realistic challenges of producing written work.


This course surveys scholarship on the theory, history, politics, aesthetics, and practice of alternative and activist media, including subcultural, radical, tactical, social movement, community, participatory, ethnic minority, indigenous and transnational media. The class will draw on a number of theoretical approaches to analyze these media, including communication, public sphere, social movement, political economy, and critical cultural theory. The course provides an overview of this growing subfield within media studies and addresses questions of: what constitutes alternative and activist media; what historical, contextual and technological factors shape its practices; who are its audiences; and how can we study its meaning and influence.


This course analyzes the social construct of childhood and the way that ideas about the appropriate uses of media and popular culture by children and teens change over time. Analysis of media texts will be organized around authorship and point of view:  media produced for youth, by youth and about youth.  A wide range of entertainment and educational media and pop culture texts will be explored, including television, film, music, gaming and virtual world participation.

The research about the social and psychological effects of media and popular culture on children and teens is mixed--ranging from moral panics about the negative effects of media, to utopian visions of digital media as a new form of social capital. This course takes an historical look at the research related to media effects and the way that these studies have been used to underpin political and social change efforts in the past.  Particular focus will be placed on research related to trends in the social uses of digital tools and new media cultural products by children and youth.  Drawing upon the research base, the class provides evidence that informs the integration of young people's existing 21st Century Literacy skills into public policy arenas for education, citizenship, child welfare, health prevention, life skills and workforce development.


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.  The course will cover the development of the medium from Thomas Edison to Robert Rodriguez.  The history of cinema will be looked at from various perspectives (as a technology, an industry, an entertainment medium, and a mode of personal and national expression) and 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.


This course examines the history and aesthetics of Hollywood cinema from the post-classical era to the present day, tracing the industry’s recovery from its disastrous postwar decline in the 1960s, through the so-called Hollywood Renaissance of the late 1960s and the 1970s, the rise of the New Hollywood in the 1970s and ’80s, and the eventual consolidation of Conglomerate Hollywood in the 1990s and early 2000s. The main focus will be mainstream Hollywood films and filmmaking, although we will consider important ancillary developments and adjacent industries as well – the art and commerce of American independent film, for instance, and Hollywood’s volatile relationship with the television industry.

We will trace these developments from multiple perspectives, utilizing an industry studies approach that focuses primarily on issues of authorship, film style, and modes of production, distribution, and reception.  The course also will address questions of historiography, considering how post-classical American cinema has been conceptualized, researched, and written.  It also will entail an archival research component, focusing on various holding in the HRC. We will conduct weekly screening along with the seminar sessions. Requirements will include an in-class presentation of your research and a term paper.


This course examines a variety of ways to study the relationships between viewers and media. We will begin our class with a brief historical survey of the various theories of media effects, then compare them to broader theoretical problems of "reception" of media that considers how people interpret and use media and media texts in their everyday lives.  We will cover fans and fan behaviors; viewers of stars, historical contexts of reception, and cult media; and the functions of memories. We will read many of the canonical works on the reception of film, radio, television, and popular culture.  For instance, I expect to include in part or total:  Brooker and Jermyn the Audience Studies Reader; Jackie Stacey Star Gazing, Elizabeth Bird, the Audience in Everyday Life, Purnima Mankekar, Screening Culture, Viewing Politics, Henry Jenkins, Textual Poachers; Janice Radway, Reading the Romance; Janet Staiger, Media Reception Studies; and numerous essays. There will be in-class discussions and presentations, small assignments, a midterm and a research paper.


This course takes a rhizomatic approach to globalization for mapping the nonlinear pathways that media technologies, industries, texts and cultures often follow around the world.

The “rhizome” of globalization, derived from a philosophical concept by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, refers to a type of root system that grows horizontally from the middle and thus has no organizing center or a fixed point of origination. In academic literature and popular discussions, the contemporary moment of media globalization is sometimes described as “rhizomatic” due to the decentered network structure of media technologies like the internet and the deterritorialized corporate power of transnational media industries. However, in most cases, the rhizome is used merely as a metaphor for globalization, and the theoretical potential of Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of rhizome remains rather underdeveloped in media studies.  In this course, we will develop a more nuanced perspective on the rhizome by exploring its relevance to, and applications in, media production, consumption, representation, and cultural identities, as well as in debates on cultural politics, policy and social movements.  The rhizomatic approach to globalization will be illustrated by case studies of diverse media such as literature, film, television, and digital media in both historical and contemporary contexts.

Some of the readings for this course include the following books (or selections from them): Modernity at Large by Arjun Appadurai; The Rhizomatic West: Representing The American West in a Transnational Global Media Age by Neil Campbell; A Thousand Plateaus by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari; Empire and Multitude by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri; Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment and the Senses by Laura Marks; Deleuze and World Cinema by David Martin-Jones; Hypertext 3.0: Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization by George P. Landow; and Global Culture Industry: The Mediation of Things by Scott Lash and Celia Lury.

RTF 388P/343             ADVANCED DIRECTING• 
Dogme 95 meets Meisner technique in this collaborative class. Each student will co-direct a Dogme-style film, utilizing Meisner techniques to develop story ideas in the early weeks of the semester. We will adhere to a production code that is a modified version of the Dogme 95 Vow of Cinematic Chastity. The goal will be to create collaborative, performance-based works that emphasize simplicity and ingenuity in image and sound choices.


This is the first semester in a year-long Script-to-Screen Incubator. The two-semester sequence, a collaboration with the Department of Theatre and Dance, will serve RTF screenwriters, directors, cinematographers, editors, producers, sound editors/mixers, along with Theatre & Dance actors, designers, playwrights, and directors, as well as 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 and Public Relations.

The fall writing workshop is for advanced screenwriters who wish to develop short-form narrative work -- at the same time exploring how a short can serve as a ‘proof-of-concept’ for a longer format, be it a television series, a feature film, webisodes or other transmedia.  Students will develop, write and rewrite their scripts, workshopping each draft with the class and instructor. They will also map out possible ways to expand/‘brand’ their short film concepts. The semester will culminate with a rehearsed public reading of the scripts, followed by a feedback session with an invited audience. The main characters in the screenplays must be written for college-age characters, so these films can be produced in the spring production workshop with actors from the Department of Theatre and Dance.


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. Students must have completed RTF 333, Introduction to Screenwriting.


Enrollment requires instructor consent, based upon your short film synopsis/proposal, your experience level, your writing sample, and your workshopping ability.


Please e-mail Professor Shea (andrew.shea@austin.utexas.edu) with the following information and attachments no later than 5:00 pm on Sunday, April 20:

  • Name/UT EID/Email address/Anticipated date of graduation
  • Writing sample attached as PDF.
  • A short synopsis of a short screenplay you wish to develop in this class, plus a brief description of its possible expansion potential -- attached as a PDF.
  • Whether you intend to enroll in the spring production workshop—and, if so, in what capacity (beyond screenwriter.) Let us know if you hope to direct your short.
  • A complete list of screenwriting/production classes you have taken.  Include names of instructors & TAs, and date enrolled. Instructors & TAs will be contacted about your workshopping ability.

Please note that not all of the scripts written in the fall class will be produced in the spring production workshop.   Enrolling in the fall class does not guarantee you a seat in the spring class.

Consent decisions will be made by Wednesday, April 23.


Practicum in producing independent short films. Please note: The class is going to meet on Wednesdays for the first two class meetings (Wednesday, Aug. 27th and Wednesday Sept. 3rd), but will meet on Mondays for the remainder of the semester, all from 6:00 – 9:00 PM in CMA 5.130.


Required for first year MFA production students.
This is an introductory course in which we will build the foundation for later postproduction practice within the MFA program. It will incorporate technical, aesthetic, and practical considerations into an overall view of editing as a process, and we will use class discussion, written assignments, and (provided) editing exercises toward that end. The final third of the class will workshop your documentary film at various stages of postproduction


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.                             


This course provides an introduction to the broad range of theories in media studies from the perspectives of social sciences and cultural studies.  It is required for all new M.A. students in the RTF 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 (such as mass communications, political economy and critical-cultural analyses of media). The course will be conducted as a seminar, with in depth discussions of the books, articles and authors we encounter. In addition to the seminar on __________, the class will meet on Thursdays for a colloquium where RTF faculty and occasional guest speakers will make research presentations. The proseminar is a required component of this course, and all students are expected to attend the proseminar regularly.


The general goal of this course is to enhance university teaching through training tomorrow's professorate. One primary gain you will receive from this course is that you will develop your own style and philosophy of teaching based on sound methods and research.

Specific objectives are: You will learn about current theories of learning and you will be able to apply these theories to specific classroom instances. You will learn how to effectively design a course by producing a syllabus, writing objectives, structuring assignments, choosing appropriate readings, outlining a lecture, and designing methods of evaluation. You will be able to use and assess the effectiveness of different teaching methods through two microteach assignments and observations of professors. You will develop an informed opinion of evaluating teaching and the nature of effective teaching by critiquing your own teaching, by critiquing others' teaching, and by discussing teaching evaluations administered here at U.T. You will understand and evaluate different philosophies of grading by writing exam questions, grading sample answers, and developing grading schemes. You will understand various ethical issues and guidelines of teaching. You will appreciate differences in teaching situations in various types of institutions. You will develop your own philosophy of teaching and be able to approach problems and tasks consistently based on you view.


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.

This course is designed to aid students in the planning, production and completion of "short project" film/video projects required as partial fulfillment of the MFA degree; Students involved in pre-production must complete a story synopsis, treatment and/or shooting script (if the latter is already under way), plus a production budget and date for production start and completion; a student must have script, production plan, budget, and equipment list approved by his/her MFA committee before shooting can begin; and each project in post-production must have a budget and picture delivery date set by the student producer's MFA committee and course instructor.


This course is designed to aid students in the planning, production and completion of "short project" film/video projects required as partial fulfillment of the MFA degree; Students involved in pre-production must complete a story synopsis, treatment and/or shooting script (if the latter is already under way), plus a production budget and date for production start and completion; a student must have script, production plan, budget, and equipment list approved by his/her MFA committee before shooting can begin; and each project in post-production must have a budget and picture delivery date set by the student producer's MFA committee and course instructor.


This course offers an introduction to the principles and techniques of filmmaking with an emphasis on documentary production. The class does this by focusing on both the hands-on practice of all the necessary craft and technical skills to create successful documentaries and the necessity to understand aspects of storytelling and characters that are common in all genres of filmmaking. Each student will complete a semester long short documentary project. All work will be screened and critiqued by class members