Conservatory of Performing Arts

Production 3 course gives cinema students invaluable experience

Monday, November 09, 2009

Class puts students in 'a true professional setting'

Production still from the student film Let's Have a Baby Cinema arts students in Production 3, one of the most competitive, grueling and intense courses in the program, celebrate the culmination of their hard work at a screening of their films on Friday, Dec. 11. The 40 students will present seven 11-minute, fictional films at 7 p.m. in the GRW Theatre, located in the University Center.

The course began taking shape in the spring during a competitive process whereby students vied for the positions of producer, cinematographer, screenwriter, director, and editor/sound mixer. The positions were awarded based on student application submissions. In April, once the crew positions were assigned, those students in the role of producer took the lead in assembling their crews.

Students found the class both demanding and rewarding.

Hannah Grubow, a cinema & digital arts major concentrating in directing, served as producer on Slapstick, in which the lead character learns what's funny about car accidents, abductions and comas.

"P3 was an interesting experience," Grubow said. "We all learned that the point of P3 is not really making a great movie, it's about creating and shaping great filmmakers. I believe that this is exactly what it has done."

Brittany Klesic, a cinema arts major concentrating in producing, was the producer for Whatever Comes to Me, which explores what happens when an independent phone sex operator becomes infatuated with her new mysterious caller.

"Although challenging at times, the collaborative experience I gained from this class is incredibly valuable," Klesic said.

For the class, student production teams chose from the 10 to 15 top screenplays selected from the annual short screenplay competition open to all cinema students. Once the teams chose a screenplay, they made a pitch to the Production 3 faculty team for approval.

Over the summer, the screenwriters reworked their respective scripts and submitted changes. The teams completed other preparatory work in order to hit the ground running come fall semester. All of the pre-production, production and post-production takes place in the 14-week fall term.

The class meets twice each week — once as a collective group and once in smaller classes divided by crew position. The Production 3 faculty includes Jeremy Braverman (directing concentration), John Rice (cinematography concentration), Andrew Halasz (producing concentration), Kathy Horne (editing concentration) and Rick Hawkins (screenwriting concentration).

The early weeks of the semester are spent in pre-production activities. Students are given a budget of $1,500 and are required to do all of the same tasks as professional film makers — cast, secure location, select props, etc. Shooting begins in week five of the semester. Teams are permitted to shoot their films every other weekend; alternate weekends are spent in secondary crew positions (gaffer, camera assistant, assistant director, grip/electric, art director, etc.) assisting with other team's films. Students work with all HD, state-of-the-art, professional equipment supplied by the University. 

The Production 3 course places students in a true professional setting as they are entirely responsible for creating a film. "It develops them as artists," said Braverman, "the most important thing they learn is collaboration." Besides being an incredible opportunity to gain experience, students have a chance to add material to their individual reels.

In addition to the Production 3 screenings, sophomores will have the chance to screen their films as part of the Production 2 screening on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. and seniors as part of the Production 4 screening on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m.  All screenings take place in the University Center's GRW Theatre and are free and open to the public.

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