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Theory, Practice, Collaboration

The Department of Cinema & Screen Studies (CSS) is committed to fully integrating theory and practice in pursuit of what we call "critical filmmaking." We believe that for young filmmakers to develop their own voice and vision, they need to study the history, form and cultural power of cinema. We also believe that any criticism or analysis of films should be informed by a true understanding of what it takes to make a film. We also believe that collaboration is a core skill that students need for success in the contemporary world no matter what field they choose to pursue.

Core Courses

Students must take all of the following courses to complete the BA in Cinema & Screen Studies.

CSS 210 - Introduction to Cinema & Screen Studies

An overview of film history and analysis designed to provide students with a fundamental understanding of film movements, approaches, terms and techniques.

CSS 388 - Film Genre

An overview of various film genres in terms of form, industry, and social and cultural impact.

CSS 310 - Film Theory

An introduction to core concepts in film theory. Students read the works of seminal film theorists to contemplate "What is Cinema" from the perspectives of medium, form, style, spectatorship and industry.

CSS 486 - World Cinema

An overview of film traditions from regions around the world. This course provides students with a glimpse into the vast terrain of filmmaking outside of the United States and Hollywood.

CRW 201 - Introduction to Screenwriting

Students learn the fundamentals of screenwriting with a focus on the short film script.

CRW 301 - Intermediate Screenwriting

This is a summary of your online course. Include an overall description of the class, significant concepts that are taught and any other relevant information that would be helpful for a potential student. It’s also a good idea to mention any specific requirements for materials or time commitment outside of class.

CSS 235 - Introduction to Cinema Production

This is a summary of your online course. Include an overall description of the class, significant concepts that are taught and any other relevant information that would be helpful for a potential student. It’s also a good idea to mention any specific requirements for materials or time commitment outside of class.

CSS 335 - Intermediate Cinema Production

Students expand their skills in screenwriting, focusing on the structure and "beats" of the feature film.

CSS 396 - Senior Thesis

In their final year of study, all students engage in a Senior Thesis seminar (15 or less students per section). They envision, design, develop and complete a culminating project. Typical senior thesis projects include short films, feature-length screenplays, and academic research papers ready for publication.

Elective Courses

Students must take at least four elective courses. Following are summaries of frequently-offered elective courses.

CSS 336 - Cinematography

Students advance their skills in cinematography, with a focus on cameras and lighting. Students have the opportunity to work in both digital and 16mm formats.

CSS 337 - Motion Picture Editing

Students advance their skills in editing, working with in both digital and traditional celluloid formats.

CSS 389 - Documentary Traditions

Intensive study of documentary traditions in film, video and new media. The course will examine different approaches to documentary, including ethnographic film, the social documentary and guerrilla media. It will also provide historical and geopolitical frames for examining the politics of documentary.

CSS 395 - Video Art

Students explore the history and aesthetics of video art from the 1980s to the present in order to create their own video art pieces.

ENG 395 - Black American Cinema

Study of the history of films made by and about Black Americans. The course spans early cinema's black independent studios and race films to the LA Rebellion to contemporary filmmakers.

CSS 360 - National Cinemas

An extended investigation into theories of national cinema (in what ways can a ‘cinema’ be understood as ‘national’?) in conjunction with the study of a body of films arising from a single, ‘national’ context, for example: Brazilian, Cuban, Iranian, Japanese, Soviet, Tunisian, etc.

CSS 385 - Children's Literature & Film

Explore, analyze, and adapt classic works or Children’s Literature to motion picture film.  Emphasis is placed on thinking, imagining, and creating works from the perspective of a child spectator in order to make films that are personal, original, and appropriate for a young audience.  Throughout the course, the students will learn how to write, design, shoot, hand-develop, audio mix, and edit Super 8mm children’s color motion pictures.

CSS 391 - Film Practicum

Film Practicum is an intensive, cerebral and physical exercise in the various approaches to filmmaking and videography. This course takes both conventional and experimental paths to help students expand their creative horizons. Students should expect to be “in production” constantly during the semester.

CSS 435 - Motion Picture Directing

Students will study methods, techniques and lessons attributed to the craft of directing and acting for motion pictures. Students will study and gain a conceptual understanding of story and dramatic structure as well as exploration of emotional and psychological relationships between characters and self in visual conditions. Lastly, they will collaborate on multiple productions.

CSS 485 - Experimental Filmmaking

The purpose for this course is to examine experimental cinema and the avant garde as an alternative method of filmmaking. The student will experiment with non-narrative, impressionistic, and poetic filmmaking methods in order to engage the audience in thought-provoking manners.

CSS 487 - Advanced Studies in Film Theory

Seminar devoted to intensive study of a particular film theorist, a particular theoretical problem, or a particular theory.

CSS 489 - Women & Screen Studies

Intensive study of the relationships between women and visual media, including film, television and new media. The course will introduce students to the major feminist approaches to screen studies, including theories of spectatorship, cultural histories of reception, and feminist analysis of representation.

CSS 491 - Location-based Filmmaking

Location Filmmaking is an intensive, long-form venture into the fundamentals of independent filmmaking, without the comforts of a campus/studio/sound stage. Students will be required to submit one screenplay of 15-25 pages in length on the first day of class. These scripts must be written, or acquired legally by the student prior to the first class meeting. A faculty committee will select TWO (2) scripts from those submitted, based upon a live pitch by the writer/director/producer. The chose scripts will go into immediate preproduction, and will be allowed to utilize the entire semester, in and outside class, for full completion.