Frequently Asked Questions
Will I be able to borrow film equipment?
Yes, the Equipment Library has developed a safe no-contact routine for borrowing and returning film gear. Plan to spend a few more minutes than usual in both pick-up and return, as cases will need to be opened, checked, and cleaned in each direction.
Will I have hands-on instruction in filmmaking ideas and techniques?
Yes. Because we want you to be safe and healthy we anticipate (as of this writing) four students in a studio at a time, and those in the first two years or their program will be augmented by demonstrations by the Equipment Library. That way, you can learn simultaneously, just in different spaces. And because we have a new instructional technology tool called Panopto we are planning to film demos and upload them to Canvas so that you can study them more than once.
How will I study films for class?
We are working hard to make sure that you have a lot of resources in the world of watching. We won’t have the usual screenings we have had in the Film Studio, but the Cornish Library will be open for you to borrow books and film titles, and the department is making good use of Panopto, a new instructional technology tool, too, for sharing movie screenings.
How will the whole class see my films?
With Panopto, which is offering us unlimited storage. It’s a nice, intuitive tool. We can view your work as a whole in any studio class that needs to meet online to view and critique.
Will classes be on Google Meets again?
No, we are moving to Zoom for online classes.
How will my filmmaking assignments be different?
We are planning for a Phase 2 semester (though we will be ready for Phase 3, if September brings that). That means that while there will be more online instruction we see the courses as “hybrid,” which means that, as much as possible, and considering safety and health, we will gather in classes, face-to-face, in real time in groups of four. We’re thinking of all the ways to teach you to develop your voice as a filmmaker so that the assignments recognize Covid-19 as one of the assignment constraints. And the thing is, Hollywood – and Bollywood, and New York, and Taiwan, and around the world – filmmakers everywhere are having these conversations: what does the creative act look like, what is a film story in the A.C. (After Covid) world? What are the new stories that must be told, in here, by you?
What will Fall 2020 classes look like?
Here are a few examples:
One Film class we are offering is Introduction to Narrative Film, a filmmaking course for second-year students that covers fiction and non-fiction. Covid-19, with its guidelines for separation and contact, will be one of the creative constraints we use, which will mean learning to work in small, nimble crews of no more than four, and probably, in part, fashioning stories from the hive world of the screen as it intersects with the wide open world (still, out there) under the sun. Students will continue to develop the collaborative making skills they learned in the spring by rotating among major creative roles: director, cinematographer, producer, editor. Some of the homework will involve listening in on this (new) world.
Visual Storytelling is a first-year course that teaches students how to see, and this, along with another first-year course, Essential Tools, will have perhaps the most face-to-face contact time built into them. Students in these courses will be introduced to the basics of light, lenses, and editing, but also how to use spaces and lines (and things off-screen) inside the movie frame to help build emotion. The hands-on work will be enabled by access to the Equipment Library, which has developed a strong no-contact routine for borrowing and returning lights, cameras, and sound-recording equipment.
One upper division course we are offering in the Fall is Complex Narrative, a writing class that explores ways students might develop characters with hidden motives to produce a greater sense of story thickness, or how they might introduce a new character whose role in the story is charged but mysterious. What is the value of simply (but not really simply) observing things for a considerable time without dialogue? The Film department will make good use in this class, as in the others, of the new learning tool, Panopto, with its capacity to store a library of images and sequence and edit them. Throughout the semester, faculty will make film essays about complex scenes, sequences, and stories, too, by combining work from films that demonstrate it and voiceover commentary that guides student learning. The essays are new to the department and will be brief (6-9 minutes), trenchant, and, we hope, useable tools for students to learn. Each week there will be a rotation of activities (writing, analyzing, reading, critiquing) and each week a rotation of students learning ‘live’ in the classroom.
Experimental Film, a second-year course, is the poetry wing of filmmaking, which means more individual work than in other film forms. This class plans to take the constituent parts of film – sound and image – to explore non-narrative aspects of filmmaking. The first assignment will begin with students taking long, silent takes of close-ups of parts of the world. The second part of the assignment will involve adding sound, but that is secret for now (but the sounds will combine work the faculty member has uploaded to Panopto and work the student has recorded using Cornish’s excellent sound recording equipment). (Yes, you will get a full review of how to record sounds accurately!)
In Film Language students will learn how films are put together to make emotions and meanings. In Film Noir they will study how the world of rain, shadows, crime, and trespass asks us to think about order and disorder in the world. (How timely!)