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MPS Directing is a one-year master’s program in film directing and is designed to provide a holistic approach to the director’s craft. Students will develop the intellectual and practical tools for directing film. The curriculum focuses on the art of visual storytelling: story development from script to screen, directing actors, and understanding and utilizing cinematic tools to create a compelling visual narrative. With the guidance of our award-winning faculty, students cultivate original ideas for successful, inventive films. The course of study also addresses the historical and critical context of film as an art form, its political and socio-cultural dimensions, and comparative study of theories for understanding film and video.

Developed for the working professional, classes are held Monday through Thursday in the evening; Friday is reserved for studio time, guest lectures, critiques, demonstrations and site visits. Additional class time may be scheduled as needed to allow for guest presentations or workshops.

Degree candidates must successfully complete 30 credits, including all required courses, and maintain a 3.0 grade point average. Thesis films must be reviewed and approved by the thesis committee and the department chair in order for the student to be eligible for degree conferral.

Requirements - MPS Directing

DTG-5230       Film Language, Analysis and Criticism I 
DTG-5235       Film Language, Analysis and Criticism II
DTG-5260       Screenwriting
DTG-5310       Producing for Film Artists
DTG-5430       Directing Actors
DTG-5470       Editing as Storytelling
DTG-5610       Directing I
DTG-5615       Directing II
DTG-5740       Lecture Series I
DTG-5745       Lecture Series II


General Course Listing - MPS Directing

DTG-5230 / DTG-5235
Film Language, Analysis and Criticism I and II
Two semesters: 3 credits per semester
Narrative filmmaking has been in the forefront of cinema throughout the history of motion pictures, from the earliest projected images by the Lumière brothers in the 1890s to works made today by amateurs on smartphones that are transmitted globally. This course analyzes the language of narrative filmmaking with examples of significant films that have expanded the boundaries of cinematic expression. A broad range of narrative cinema will be featured, including films that mix fiction with documentary reality, and those works that question the idea of narrative itself. The lectures, screenings and class discussions will cover various strategies for telling a story in film, and will suggest a critical framework for thinking about the modes of narrative expression in cinema. The fall semester concentrates on American and European cinema within a context of social responsibility. The spring semester features short works, primarily from the East, and will focus on student-made films as well as digital works conceived in nontraditional modes.

Fall semester: 3 credits
Serving as an intensive exploration of the basic principles of dramatic writing, this course will explore the practice and theory of storytelling through a wide range of contexts—from the ancient Greeks to contemporary Hollywood. With a focus on the elements common to all narratives, each student will develop a short screenplay (8 to 12 minutes). The art of screenwriting will be examined from the director’s perspective and students are given a choice of writing their own screenplay, or collaborating with a professional writer, or optioning an original script from a professional writer. Each of these processes will lead to developing a shooting script under the close guidance of the instructor. Students will be expected to submit numerous revisions until the screenplay is approved for the next phase of production.

Producing for Film Artists
Fall semester: 3 credits
The practical and creative information needed by film artists to realize their artistic vision and find the appropriate media outlets for their completed works will be the focus of this course. While it is important to push the aesthetic boundaries in our field of the moving image, it is also invaluable to have an understanding of production and distribution options, and general business information that is key to the independent media maker.

Directing Actors
Spring semester: 3 credits
Designed to inform directors on methods for working with actors, this course will begin with a foundation in acting techniques to better understand the actor’s experience. Students will then explore various methods used to inspire and motivate convincing performances. The course will also cover casting and blocking, as well as optimizing the collaborative process.

Editing as Storytelling
Spring semester: 3 credits
This course will focus on using editing as a tool to tell stories. Students will be introduced to the interface of Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro X and move on to more advanced editing techniques. They will arrange and cut scenes to enhance narrative and the performances of the actors in their films, all with the goal of telling their story. Professional techniques will be applied, and examples of these techniques will be shown in the form of weekly screenings of short films, commercials and music videos. The course will also cover postproduction workflow, working with an editor, HD and 4K finishing, Apple Compressor, different camera workflows, audio finishing, managing clips, metadata and video codecs.

Directing I
Students are given firsthand experience in the creation and execution of a narrative short film within the context of an evolving industry. The course will advance the importance of telling a uniquely different story. We will discuss and analyze short films, commercials, and scenes from feature films with the objective of studying various techniques. We will meet industry professionals from every discipline within the craft. Each student will be required to produce six narrative short video exercises to further explore the challenges of directing; this course is constantly in motion—discussing, criticizing and experiencing conceptual screenwriting; directing; cinematography; and working with a production team to achieve his or her vision. Students will learn how to employ the tools of cinema to tell their story.

Directing II
As the second part of a two-semester course, students will only be admitted if they have created a comprehensive short film script in the first semester. Emphasis shifts to preproduction and casting; finding the best professional actors to fill the roles created by the student directors. Throughout the process, students continue to examine the art of directing while moving forward with the logistics of filmmaking: location scouting; hiring an experienced, independent line producer and a talented, experienced director of photography and the necessary complement of crew. Shot lists, scheduling, rehearsals lead to on-set filming and then the emphasis shifts dramatically to the art of editing where the story is told for the third and final time. Then we prepare for the completion of the film with an eye toward marketing and what the future holds for our new directors.

DTG-5740 / DTG-5745
Lecture Series I and II
Two semesters: no credit
The technical aspects of filmmaking will be examined in this course through lecture and workshop formats. Lectures include a range of specialized topics relevant to and which coincide with each phase of production that students undertake. Workshops offer students additional hands-on experience in the filmmaking process. 

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