2600 North Stemmons Freeway, Suite 117, Dallas, TX 75207
214-638-0484

Class Descriptions

First Semester – 15 weeks

First semester courses give students an overview of filmmaking by introducing them to essential elements of writing, directing, producing, casting, editing, post-production, distribution, sales and marketing, the operation of a digital camera and the basics of cinematography and lighting. Computers and industry specific software used in production, screenwriting and editing are covered as well as other professional filmmaking equipment. Advice on what it takes to be successful in the film industry is presented. In the Film Production course, students learn camera techniques, directing and basic production and create several short films and simple exercises in the digital format. These hands-on courses teach students to work both independently and collaboratively in a high-pressure creative environment that simulates professional filmmaking. Courses cover the basics of producing and how the industry works for independent films and the major studios, TV and cable networks, streaming services, as well as commercials, industrials, web-based productions and other moving image industries. Additional emphasis is placed on the creative process, while insight into human behavior, gained through the Social Psychology course, will prove useful when collaborating with cast and crew in the pressure-filled environment of a working set.

Introduction
To Producing

INTROPRO 101 – An introductory course on producing independent, studio, network and cable films, as well as commercials, industrials, web-based programs and other moving image industries. Focus is on the basics of producing, the language and business of film, and how the industries work with a concentration on the marketplace reality of making dream projects and films made to fit a specific genre.

Credit hours – 2.0

The Creative
Process

CREAPRO 101 – This course is an investigation into the student’s own creative process. Students explore the use of visual, literary and performing arts as a means of self-discovery. Film students further translate this into a filmmaking exercise in the form of individual class presentations.

Credit hours – 2.0

Screenwriting I

SCRNWRIT 101 – This course introduces students to both the craft and art of screenwriting. Emphasis is placed on story, structure, and the elements of screenwriting through lectures, exercises and analyses of films. Students learn the basics of screenwriting software through a series of specific writing assignments.

Credit hours – 3.0

Basics of
Film Production

FILM PROD 101 – This course combines hands-on experience along with demos, lectures, screenings, and discussions to introduce students to the tools, techniques, and terminology used in filmmaking. By integrating the skills and knowledge developed in Cinematography, Creative Process, Screenwriting and Producing classes, students work both in front of and behind the camera to produce several short films and exercises. Students work both independently and collaboratively in a high-pressure creative environment that simulates professional filmmaking.

Credit hours – 4.0

Digital Cinematography and Lighting

DIGCINE101 – This course focuses on advanced digital video filmmaking techniques and aesthetics used to create independent shorts and feature length films. Using Digital Cameras, students learn to expressively utilize motion picture images to evoke emotional response and provoke relevant discourse from their viewer. Historical context and modern practical applications inform an understanding of the power of cinematography to support and enhance a story. Students continue to learn the nuts and bolts of day-to-day camera and lighting as well as the relationship between Cinematographer, Director, and Production Designer in creating and exploiting the look of the film. Topics covered include: the basics of developing a cinematic style or lighting signature, enhancing story through camera placement and movement, composition, metering exposure of light sources, practical use of lenses and filters, basic lighting scenarios, and creating mood and ambiance in motion pictures.

Credit hours – 2.0

Social Psychology

PSYC 2319 – This course is an introduction to psychological theories and their application to understanding human behavior. The course covers the psychology of learning, language, developmental personality and altered states of awareness, and social psychology.

Credit hours – 3.0

Introduction to Colloquium

PRECOL 101 – This hands-on introductory course teaches students the essential tools and fundamental techniques of using a computer in the modern world, such as problem solving and file organization, with an emphasis on relevant computer applications being used in the film industry. Throughout the semester, students learn the basics of computer hardware, as well as select industry standard software used throughout the curriculum.

Credit hours – 3.0

Second Semester – 15 weeks

Building on the fundamental skill set developed in the first semester, students now broaden and intensify their training by investigating more advanced creative and technical approaches to narrative and documentary filmmaking. Assigned exercises progress towards more substantial personal projects and ideas are developed as students work independently and collaboratively to produce more complex and sophisticated work. Emphasis is placed on the study of narrative literature, film analysis and the history of film.   

Screenwriting II

SCRNWRIT 201 – Building on the fundamentals of screenwriting from semester one, students focus on writing the short screenplay by taking ideas from concept to final draft.  Students are introduced to elements of character development and objectives, scene beats, conflict, obstacles, premise, tension, emotional through-line, and act structure. Students continue to explore the elements of screenwriting in a combination of lectures and workshops for writing and peer critique.

Credit hours – 3.0

Intermediate Film Production

FILMPROD 201 – Intermediate Film Production expands upon the lessons learned in the Basics of Film Production. Lectures, demonstrations, film screenings, textbook readings, handouts, and classroom discussions help prepare students for hands-on exercises designed to develop a more mature, self-confident storytelling style. Topics such as the correct methods for shooting dialogue scenes, safe and effective construction of an action sequence, basic approaches to location sound recording, and techniques for shooting interviews lay the groundwork for shooting narrative and documentary semester film projects.

Credit hours – 4.0

History of Popular American Culture Through Film

 

FILM 201 – This course is a survey of early filmmaking through modern cinematography, focusing primarily on domestically produced films. The impact of film and cinematic literature on historical and current American culture will be discussed in depth. Also, discussed will be the influence of the early studios (personalities such as Thalberg, Warner and Goldwyn will be covered) and cinematic developments through history.

Credit hours – 3.0

Digital Editing and Post-Production

POSTPROD 201 – This hands-on course teaches the tools and techniques used in visual post-production from media management to editing techniques including editing theory, editing software, and basic engineering for post-production. Students use an industry standard, non-linear edit system to study a variety of styles and techniques for cutting dialogue scenes, action and comedy scenes, in addition to music videos, and documentaries. Professional workflows and practices, engineering, color correction and grading, motion graphics, digital video effects, compositing and edit lists will be explored. Students create both personal projects and projects using pre-existing footage. By working on the same project, students see firsthand the difference an editor’s creative choices make.

Credit hours – 3.0

Post-Production Audio and Music

POSTSND 201 – Students explore the practical and aesthetic aspects of digital audio tools and procedures through lectures, demonstrations and hands-on exercises. All areas of audio are explored, including sync-sound, editing, mixing, sound design, recording, editing dialogue, prepping for automatic dialogue replacement (ADR) and Foley sessions, loop groups, pre-dubs, composed score, source music, print master, music and effects tracks (M&E) and supervising the final sound mix. The impact of sound design on storytelling in films is evaluated by studying composer choices, edits, and sound effects.

Credit hours – 3.0

Forms of Literature

ENGL 2341 – he purpose of this course is to facilitate a comprehensive development of students’ textual/interpretive skills through varied written assignments that are closely connected with readings from different literary genres, including the history of drama.

Credit hours – 3.0

Third Semester – 15 weeks

Technique and aesthetic converge in the third semester as the curriculum concentrates on production. To this end, filmmakers are pushed to expand their skill set to include tools for more nuanced control over the storytelling process. The collaborative process by which Director and Actor bring a performance to life, and the power of a well-crafted soundtrack to influence emotional response, are among the topics explored. Student filmmakers also delve deeper into the Producer’s domain. The foundation of physical production, scheduling and budgeting, is taught using industry standard software. Courses cover contracts, marketing, distribution and the creative use of cinematography to shape mood and tone. The ins and outs of submitting films to festivals as well as marketing and selling films to studios, networks, independently, and on the Internet, are covered as well as public speaking. A colloquium course provides a forum to address specific issues that arise and is supplemented with guest speakers on various industry topics such as art direction and costume design as well as advanced cinematography techniques. Students may continue to hone their screenwriting craft, generating scripts to be considered for the Fourth Semester Final Project or be assigned projects such as writing about the relationships between Producer/Writer, Director/Writer, etc. By the eleventh week of the semester, those students wishing to, are encouraged to submit one or more screenplays for consideration as the Fourth Semester Motion Picture Production Final Project.

Scheduling and Budgeting

SKED/BUD 301 – The foundation of any moving image production is physical production. In this dynamic course, students learn the basics of physical production using time tested methods and the latest industry software. Using scheduling and budgeting software, students learn to break down a film script to create a production plan. The management of the production, transportation requirements, and the production’s responsibilities to cast and crew are examined in detail. Students create a production notebook containing all traditional paperwork and deliverables necessary to produce a film. Particular attention is paid to the structure of the workday, reasonable hours, turnaround time, and other safety issues that are the responsibility of the producer, director, unit production manager, first assistant director and department heads.

Credit hours – 3.0

Screenwriting III

SCRNWRIT 301 – In this screenwriting lab, students have the opportunity to work with the instructor to discuss and get feedback on their work in progress scripts and reports. Greater attention is paid to elements of character development and objectives, scene beats, conflict, obstacles, premise, tension, emotional through-line, and act structure. Work is read in class and evaluated through faculty led peer discussion. Students who do not want to write screenplays, will develop their story skills by writing analyses of peer scripts and other screenplays. Students focused on screenwriting are encouraged to submit one or more of their screenplays for consideration as the Fourth Semester Motion Picture Production Final Project.

Credit hours – 1.0

Prep and Production Colloquium

PRODCOL 301 – This open discussion course is a forum for students to address advanced topics and issues that arise during their third semester projects. Round table discussion is supplemented with guest speakers on various industry topics including art direction and costume design, as well as advanced cinematography techniques. To enhance and expand the student’s exposure to the business, instructors may schedule field trips to local industry businesses such as costume shops, equipment rental houses and post-production facilities.

Credit hours – 4.0

Advanced Film Production

FILMPROD 301 – Grounded in the technical skills developed in the first two semesters, students are now ready to explore the more nuanced facets of filmmaking. Student filmmakers learn how to analyze a script, cast the right actor, block a vibrant, motivated scene, and nurture a compelling performance for the camera. Students experience the rehearsal process as a collaborative tool for working with talent to achieve their storytelling goals. A variety of acting methodologies are considered, as are improvisation and problem solving exercises through scene work before the camera. Each student draws upon the multiple disciplines of development, shooting, and post-production for the creation of a high quality Third Semester Final Project.

Credit hours – 4.0

Fundamentals of Public Speaking

SPCH 1315 – This course introduces the principles and practice of presentational communication, including personal history, impromptu speaking, humorous and persuasive speeches. Methods of topic analysis, evidence evaluation, organization and delivery are covered.

Credit hours – 3.0

Advanced Business of Film

FILMBIZ 301 – This course examines the business and legal aspects of film production. The economic structure and history of the film industry, the job of production companies and professional guilds, film festivals, grant writing, as well as a full range of the business and legal practices of film and television production are surveyed, including financing and the agents, managers, attorneys and publicists play in representing talent, producers and writers. Students are familiarized with entertainment law topics such as copyright, option agreements, distribution agreements, music licensing, agreements for actors, directors, producers and writers, protecting the rights of the artist, employment contracts, permits and releases, guilds and unions, production and distribution revenues and expenses.

Credit hours – 2.0

Distribution & Marketing

DISTRIB 301 – This course examines the full range of film distribution and marketing for major studio and independent film projects. Market research, advertising strategies, image development, and creative execution are explored while focusing on understanding the interplay of markets, buyers, sellers, consumers, and costs. Major studio distribution topics include: devising a release plan, analyzing grosses, scheduling bookings, creating a marketing and advertising campaign, and independent film acquisition. Independent film distribution covers festival circuits and markets, educational and short film distribution, independent features (domestic and foreign), fundraising, and working with agents. The roles of audience survey techniques, booking, publicity, and advertising as well as the corporations and industries involved in the mass media are explored, culminating in creating and delivering an industry standard pitch and marketing One Sheet.

Credit hours – 2.0

Fourth Semester – 15 weeks

The cumulative knowledge and experience garnered throughout this program is the foundation for the Fourth Semester Motion Picture Production Final Project. This project is approved and selected by the faculty. Students collaborate on this project, forming all the positions of a film crew, pre-production through post-production. This project is the centerpiece for a real-world study of the business of film. The Colloquium provides a discussion format, including guest speakers, to address specific issues that arise along the way. A unique Advanced Development course focuses on preparing students for a professional career after graduation. A Human Biology class helps students to better understand the human body, the primary tool of the actor.

Producing the Independent Film

PROFILM 401 – This course explores the creative, organizational, and management roles inherent to producing independent and short films from prep to post. Students are provided the opportunity to delve deeper into various roles of film production, from Producer to Director to Cinematographer to Stunt Coordinator. The structure and collaborative responsibilities of crewmembers throughout a production, and the importance of having a finished script before shooting are stressed.

Credit hours – 2.0

Human Biology

BIOL 2301 – This course is designed to introduce the building blocks and components of human life and how they function together to support the organism. Emphasis is on the function of the human body including anatomy, nutrition and the nervous, circulatory and reproductive systems.

Credit hours – 3.0

Advanced Development

ADVDEV 401 – Designed to prepare students for joining the moving image industry, this course focuses on developing the tools needed to market themselves for work after graduation. Students create business cards, complete resumes, research film festivals, and prepare a sample submission for requesting a grant. Networking opportunities are presented through meetings with industry professionals. A series of guest lectures by working professionals in the industry complements regular class lectures.

Credit hours – 2.0

Production and Post-Production Colloquium

POSTCOL 401 – This course is a forum for students to address specific issues that arise during production through delivery on the Motion Picture Production Final Project and Behind-the-Scenes Documentary in an open discussion format. Invited guest speakers supplement instruction on topics such as cinematography and design. The course addresses actual concerns as well as questions engendered during production through delivery of the Motion Picture Production Final Project.

Credit hours – 4.0

Final Projects: Pre-Production through Delivery

FILMPROD 401 – The cumulative knowledge and experience garnered throughout this program is the foundation for the Fourth Semester Motion Picture Production Final Project. Proficiency in the skills and craft of filmmaking, as well as the ability to work as a team, ensures success in this class. Patterned after the studio system of filmmaking, projects are pitched to and selected by the faculty. With instructor guidance throughout, students form a production team, open a production office, and approach the making of the Motion Picture Production Final Project to simulate a professional production in this hands-on course. Students collaborate to fill all the positions of a film crew, focusing on pre-production through post-production, including screenwriting, re-writes, producing, directing, casting, (editing, dialogue, sound effects and music mixing, musical score and delivery).  A behind the scenes “making of” documentary and a trailer will also be produced. As a capstone event, these films are screened for an invited audience of industry professionals.

Credit hours – 4.0