Extra Curricular

by Holly Willis

  • Shifting the Gaze

    Patricia White, a scholar of feminist film and professor in the Film and Media Studies program at Swarthmore College, recently published a book titled Women’s Cinema, World Cinema: Projecting Contemporary Feminisms (Duke University Press, 2015). The book explores the work of women directors globally, arguing that not only are many of these directors shaping a 21st-century arthouse aesthetic, but also that they are transforming film politics and projecting “a transnational feminist social vision.” The book invites us to rethink both women’s cinema and world cinema and uses the notion of projection as a “vision of futurity.” Writing in the introduction,…  Read more

    On Jul 23, 2015
    By on Jul 23, 2015 Columns
  • Teaching Immersion and Stereoscopy

    The profusion of virtual reality projects showcased at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival is a testament to the fact that the tools and techniques for cinematic storytelling are expanding. Film schools are adapting, often quickly creating new courses that attempt to help students navigate this new frontier. My colleague Eric Hanson, for example, now teaches a course in University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts called “Experiments in Immersive Design.” The course was originally designed to help students understand the history, theory and practice of three-dimensional filmmaking. But under Hanson it has shifted more to incorporate his background and…  Read more

    On Apr 28, 2015
    By on Apr 28, 2015 Columns
  • Computational Storytelling

    In October 2014, the University of California, Santa Cruz announced a new Department of Computational Media. Described as the first of its kind and housed in the university’s Baskin School of Engineering, the department is designed to create a truly interdisciplinary home for new directions in computation as an expressive form by uniting the humanities’ concerns and methods with those of computer science. The department builds on the existing game design and computer science programs, as well as on the work of faculty members, research groups and graduate students who, over the last decade, have explored the computational processes of…  Read more

    On Jan 21, 2015
    By on Jan 21, 2015 Columns
  • Film Studies for the 21st Century

    In 2008, film scholar Catherine Grant started a blog titled Film Studies for Free as a venue for collecting and sharing links to interesting examples of film and media scholarship available online. Between university positions, she was unsettled by the thought of losing her faculty privileges — such as access to the library — and wanted to stay connected with academia. By launching the site, she quickly discovered a burgeoning community of other scholars in the blogosphere, as well as a readership that expanded beyond the university. “I guess I didn’t really understand how it would take off,” she says…  Read more

    On Oct 20, 2014
    By on Oct 20, 2014 Columns
  • Maine Course

    Ready for a big change, back in 1997, I packed up my L.A. apartment, loaded the cat into a pet carrier and hopped on a flight to the East Coast. It was May, and I was joining the team at the Maine Photographic Workshops for the summer to help edit a new publication devoted to toy camera photography. The Workshops were a major advocate of the Diana and the Holga, cheap plastic cameras used by amateurs and pros alike to create unpredictable, often stunning, black-and-white photos. In the tiny plane between Boston and Portland, I tried to ignore my BlackBerry’s…  Read more

    On Jul 17, 2014
    By on Jul 17, 2014 Columns
  • Medium Matters

    At the annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) conference, held in late March in Seattle, many of the conversations and panel discussions revolved around the disciplinary status of cinema, film, media, and screen studies. The cluster of terms jostling for territory in the conference’s program guide points to the crisis of identity sparked by the sweeping expansion of digital media, the emergence of the digital humanities, and the waning of actual film materials – 16mm film stock, film cameras, film editing systems – in “film” schools. “Film has died,” asserts the New School’s McKenzie Wark. “It’s decomposing. But…  Read more

    On Apr 28, 2014
    By on Apr 28, 2014 Columns
  • UT3D

    While Hollywood continues to generate three-dimensional spectacles, directors, industry pundits and audiences all continue to question the technology’s validity. In a recent story in The Hollywood Reporter highlighting the DVD release of The Wolverine, which includes a 3D Blu-ray, director James Mangold said, “The question is whether 3D will survive or not,” adding, “Is it more than a gimmick and can we make it more than a gimmick?” And after ESPN announced last June that it would shut down its three-year-old 3D sports channel by the end of 2013, Variety’s David S. Cohen explored both the predictions of total demise…  Read more

    On Jan 17, 2014
    By on Jan 17, 2014 Cinematography
  • Primal Direction

    Meaning. The craving for meaning. Art and its ability to create experiences of meaning. Whether they seem all too prosaic or winsomely sincere, these words nevertheless constitute the unabashed core of an intensive, 17-session filmmaking lab series housed in a large, high-ceilinged studio in Hollywood and led by an impassioned woman named Joan Scheckel. In practical terms, the lab sessions are dedicated to helping filmmakers clarify their vision, hone their craft and develop a functional set of tools for the production process, which is all well and good. But what makes the lab sessions extraordinary is Scheckel herself. Over the…  Read more

    On Oct 21, 2013
    By on Oct 21, 2013 Columns
  • Lessons Learned

    Orson Welles is reputed to have said, “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” In film school, these limitations are called assignments, and this issue’s Extra Curricular offers an assortment of assignments designed to ignite the creative process. They’re gathered from a group of screenwriters, animators and filmmakers who teach at schools across the country.   Assignment #1: Look Hard Mary Sweeney, who teaches a course called “Dreams, the Brain and Storytelling” in the Screenwriting Division of the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, offers this simple but powerful writing assignment, which can be…  Read more

    On Jul 18, 2013
    By on Jul 18, 2013 Columns
  • Big Data and the 25 Best Film Schools

    Big Data — the term is everywhere right now. Sometimes used as a shorthand for the companies that are in the business of collecting, aggregating and sifting through large data sets (often comprised of personal info), it more properly refers to the data sets themselves — collections of information so gigantic they require advanced technologies to interpret. There’s much creepy potential in Big Data, but it is here to stay. The question, then, is whether the technologies of Big Data can be marshaled for progressive and creative goals. At Arts Fwd, Erinn Roos-Brown argues that arts organizations can learn from…  Read more

    On May 6, 2013
    By on May 6, 2013 Directing
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