Los Angeles Courses

Internship: FMA 3085 (4 s.h.), BTMM 4785 (4 s.h.)
The internship course will meet regularly. Group discussion and class sessions are important components along with individual appointments. Internships are supervised by faculty who are in regular contact with the placement site, site supervisor/intern coordinator, and students. Faculty and intern support staff are available for placement advising and contact information. Students are encouraged to arrange a number of interviews as part of their search. REQUIRED DURING THE SUMMER PROGRAM

Entertainment Industry Perspectives: FMA W3696 (WI)/3770 (4 s.h.), BTMM 3196 (3 s.h.)
This course (FMA 3696/BTMM 3196) is an upper level writing course combined with Topics in Film, FMA 3770.  The course will comprise two main focal points: the personal writing/autobiographical and the visitor guest lectures/ demonstrations in specific and varying fields of work such as: producers, agents, actors in TV and film, script writers, art department, directors, editors, as well as advertisers and distributors from entry level to executive, in all domains, including intellectual property lawyers (film, TV, new media). There will be weekly writing journal assignments and required participation in classes with visitors and a final paper. The class will meet once a week though students will be notified if there are schedule changes due to guest visitor schedule restrictions. Some course related field trips may be scheduled for weekends, or daytime business hours and could include graduate study resources (AFI, UCLA, University of Southern California) and other off-campus screenings. REQUIRED DURING THE SUMMER PROGRAM

Distinguished guest visitors on a weekly basis such as: Ross Katz (Lost in Translation & In the Bedroom, co-producer, and Taking Chance, writer/director); Chris Manley, (ASC, Mad Men);  Tim and Eric (Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, writers/producers/directors/performers); Michael MaGahey (V.P. Disney TV animation, & developer of Little Miss Sunshine); Deborah Offner (SAG, Black Swan, Law & Order, CSI, Cruel Intentions: Holly Kaplan, Parenthood, Miami Medical, Days of Our Lives); Palek Patel (company produced Alice in Wonderland); Julia Wong (X-Men: Last Stand, Red Riding Hood, editor;) and many others will offer students a chance to learn and converse with industry professionals who are established in the business.

Topics In Film – LA Plays Itself: FMA 3670 (4 s.h.), BTMM 2421 (3 s.h.)
We all know Los Angeles as a movie location. As the seat of the film industry, it has been a convenient backdrop for film productions since the early days of cinema. In this context, however, Los Angeles often ‘plays’ somewhere else. For this course, we will screen films which portray Los Angeles as a very specific character––itself––and will examine the different narratives and themes that characterize the city. We will discuss economic, social, and historical aspects of Los Angeles; perceptions of the city from within and without; and the stories and myths that the film industry spins about its hometown.

Films screened in the course will span from the Silent Era to the present, and will be augmented by readings from 20th-century popular fiction and non-fiction as a means of identifying common narratives that have grown out of various Los Angeles experiences.  The objectives of the course will be: to develop critical and analytical skills for approaching and understanding narratives; to engage students’ observational skills as relates to their own experiences in Los Angeles; and by synthesizing these two skills, to foster a deeper understanding of how cultural myths and narratives grow out of experience, speak to it, and in turn re-shape it.

Internet Famous: FMA 2771 (4 s.h.)
In the burgeoning world of online media, there is a new kind of celebrity:  those who call themselves “internet famous.”  Whether they’re actors, videobloggers, directors, musicians, or online entrepreneurs, the Internet Famous have blogged, tweeted, Youtubed, and Facebooked their way to online fame–and in some cases, fortune.

This course will explore some of the seminal creations of these online artist/performers/entrepreneurs and find out how they created and monetized their work.  Why did they choose to express themselves through online media?  How did they build their audiences?  How do they retain followers in such a competitive marketplace?  And why have audiences responded to what they had to say?  This course will also explore critical readings that address the rise of social media as an art form and communication tool, and how social media is becoming increasingly critical to the success of traditional media such as TV and film. Course discussions will examine controversial issues regarding privacy, sharing of personal information, and the democratization of the filmmaking and distribution process.  For the course, each student will be required to create and maintain a blog or videoblog showcasing their writing, photography, art, filmmaking, or acting work.  Each student’s blog, which is to be updated weekly, should evolve as their work is informed by the class readings, discussions, and visitor presentations.

Imaginary Cities – Film and Los Angeles Culture: Architecture, Music, Painting, Theater: FMA 0869 (3 s.h.) – General Education Course
This course intends to examine Los Angeles through the lens of exile with a focus on art, architecture, culture, and history. Los Angeles has always been a strange kind of temporary and permanent landing pad for exiles.  At the same time, the history of Los Angeles (like many cities) is a history of displacement within its own borders and a unique approach to banishment. Generalizations circulate that nobody in Los Angeles is actually from Los Angeles. Furthermore, much of the “look” of Los Angeles is a culmination of “non-native” elements from older, more established colonial enterprises around the world (architecture descended from Vienna, Spain, etc., foliage from Australia, Mexico, Middle East, etc.).

Jackson Pollack, the quintessential New York expressionist could find no success in Los Angeles, but somehow fit perfectly into the strictures of institutional New York, the art capital of the world.  A couple of years later, Warhol will find his first warm reception at a commercial gallery in Los Angeles and Duchamp will have his first retrospective at a small museum in Pasadena, setting the tone for art in Los Angeles (in a gesture of gratitude for the appreciation, Duchamp’s estate will try to gift his oeuvre to the Los Angeles County Museum of art after his death and the institution will foolishly turn it down, unlike the Philadelphia Museum of Art).

Some of the most popular filmic representations of Los Angeles were created by people (men) who while not technically exiles, were exercising a kind of “non-native” perspective (Billy Wilder, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Roman Polanski, Ridley Scott, Michael Mann).  But some of the most incisive and productive critique of Los Angeles comes from lesser known artists who are either in a state of exile themselves (whether forced or self-imposed), or artists that pay witness to others in a state of exile.

This class will examine those artists and representations in an attempt to construct a methodology that can be used to observe the city. Students will be encouraged to listen and absorb from “native” speakers, but also to claim their experiences as valid “Los Angeles” experiences through class discussions, readings, screenings, trips, and guest speakers. Topics may include gentrification and city planning, art, architecture, social politics, and more.

Topics and Production: Understanding and Making Documentaries: FMA 4240 (4 s.h.)
This is a documentary production course with a creative emphasis on the personal documentary. The course will explore stylistic distinctions, methods, and technical issues as it relates to portable moviemaking. Technical issues to be explored will be: cameras (HD and super-16mm), location, sound, lighting, editing. We will be viewing and discussing some of the various types of documentaries, which are encompassed in the form, ranging from the poetic, to the home movie, to the stylistic crystallization period of Direct Cinema to the expose/advocacy documentary. Theoretical and ethical issues will also be a focus in the course.

Screenwriting: FMA 4397 (4 s.h.)
“Writing is just a higher form of thinking.” – Freeman Dyson.  Superior scripts are the result of superior writing. The focus of this course will always be the ‘word on the page.’ You will examine what Frank Conroy calls the ‘microlevel’–how writing (or polishing) will clarify ideas and characters. Your script will be judged on screenwriting style as much as on the elaboration of the idea.  Students will integrate in practice everything they have learned about film, screenwriting and story by developing the first draft of a feature-length screenplay. The course will be structured as a workshop, present students with the opportunity to further hone their critical skills and introduce them to the discipline of the writer’s life.

FMA 4282 (or other Department Course Numbers)
Independent study or independent project.

  • School of Media and Communication

    Annenberg Hall
    2020 North 13th Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19122