Tag Archives: Television

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Cinematheque: An Insight into the Industry

By Ali Parisi
MS Public Relations ’16
BU College of Communication

How cool is it to speak with directors and ask them questions about their films?  Very, right? And how about if these directors came to screenings at your school?! This happens nearly every other Friday at COM’s Department of Film and Television’s Cinematheque series.

Cinematheque gives students the chance to hear from people in the television and film industries; directors, products, writers, or even actors.  The events vary in topic and type, some including screenings and others including more of a Q&A format.  With about five held each semester, students have ample opportunity to gain insight into what really goes into creating these projects.

“We try to make it a more interesting experience than just passively watching,” says Paul Schneider, chairman of the Department of Film and Television.  Schneider explains that they typically have one of the creators of the project over so that students can get an inside look at how the material was created.  That way, students can ask them questions about certain decisions the creators made and why.

The series is curated by Gerald Peary, a film critic and documentarian who goes to a tremendous number of film festivals throughout the year.  Topics come from either films that Peary has seen and thought were worth bringing back to BU, or sometimes successful alumni who are willing to come back and share their stories.

Eliza Dushku
Eliza Dushku

The most recent event, “An Evening with Eliza Dushku,” took a look at some of the actress’ roles.  Dushku is most well known for her role as Missy Pantone in Bring It On.  However, her acting career includes an extensive list of films and television shows, including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Dollhouse,” in addition to guest roles on “White Collar” and “Ugly Betty.”

“We don’t have that many actors come in,” adds Schneider, explaining that it is interesting to hear from actors to learn more about their career paths and points of view.  “That’s part of the fun of it.”

The goal of the Cinematheque series is to give students a “connection with what’s going on in the real world,” according to Schneider.  That is why they often bring in fairly young, independent filmmakers who haven’t been out of school for very long themselves.  An example of this includes three BU alumni who, earlier this semester, showed select episodes from their popular Web series, “Allston Xmas.”  (For a full schedule, visit this page.)

Whether it’s a documentarian following a kidnapping or the production designer from “Life of Pi,” students are sure to hear from some interesting and successful professionals who are working in the industry as they speak. “It’s an educational experience that goes beyond simply watching the show,” Schneider says.

Eliza Dushku picture credit: Boston.com

Featured image courtesy: BU COM website

 

COMLIGHT

A Laboratory for Visual Storytelling: COM’s New Cinema and Media Production MFA

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

We hear a lot at COM about the shifting media landscape. Every day, new technological advances are making it possible for us to produce and consume media in ways we never have before. Keeping up with technology is essential, but no matter what industry you’re in, one thing is clear: telling a compelling story is at the core of everything we do. COM’s newly re-launched MFA in Cinema and Media Production, spawned out of this philosophy, provides an advanced degree for students interested in taking film beyond its fundamentals and honing their storytelling skills.

“What we have come to realize is students now are much more technically sophisticated,” says Jan Egleson, Associate Professor of the Practice in Film & Television. “In the old days, film school’s function was to teach people arcane technology. Students today are much more adept at using equipment but they still have the difficulty of telling stories. That’s where we’ve been pushing the program.” Though the new MFA does also involve technical skills, they mainly function as support tools for the film’s overall objective. “The focus is storytelling and the skills of fiction film-making,” Egleson says. “You’re working with actors, breaking down scenes, and structuring a story to convey it visually.”

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Prospective candidates for the program, which launches in Fall 2015, are required to come in with a baseline of both technical and storytelling skills. Whether they’ve learned it on their own or through an undergraduate film program, they must demonstrate they’ve already mastered the basics to apply to the films they’ll work on during the course of their MFA. When accepted, students already know their designated film making role, whether it be director, producer, or cinematographer. This fall, three producers, three cinematographers, and six directors will join the crew. Before first semester, students are asked to pitch three film ideas, which are continually honed and vetted until arriving on one film concept that will be the focus for the duration of the program.

As the film landscape continuously changes, so do the types of films students will work on. “We’re platform agnostic,” Egleson says. “If you come in and say I want to make a web series – ten, 10-minute webisodes – you can do that. If you want to make a 30 minute film, that works. As long as you can convince us of the clarity of your vision we don’t care what the platform is. That’s the shift.” If you’re dead set on working towards a full length film, you might work on a section of it or a shorter version, says Egleson, which is how many full length features get their start.

CMPBlogPhoto4The new Cinema and Media Production MFA will continue its adaptive response to the new world after the switchover from conventional film to digital media. “Once that happens, it becomes very apparent to everybody that the focus needs to shift to the ideas behind this stuff. It’s very liberating,” Egleson says. “It means we can now be a laboratory for visual storytelling.”

Are you excited about the new face of the MFA in Cinema Media Production or have you thought about applying? Do you think it will support the changing film making landscape? Learn more here.

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Inside TV graduate course: Production 1

By Nikita Sampath
MS Broadcast Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication 

Production I is an introductory class that every Television graduate student takes in their first semester at BU’s College of Communication (COM). Professor Geoffrey Poister, who has 15 years of experience in the film and TV industry, teaches the course.

In Production I, students start off by learning how to use a basic DSLR camera and what different lenses are used for different effects. Next, they move on to the more advanced Panasonic camcorder, which is used by professional TV crews and is good for shooting interviews. Students learn to record sound using various microphones such as the wireless, lavaliere and shotgun. They also touch upon lighting techniques and learn how to use Avid, Hollywood’s editing software of choice.

For their first assignment, students produce a silent film. The script for this project must be highly action-based. After the script is complete, students learn how to add sound to their film. Students choose to either record new music or select from the available media libraries on COM’s computers located in all the labs on each floor.

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Their second assignment is a group assignment in which students have to work on a documentary—one with real people and characters. This semester, one group chose to work on a story about Professor Poister himself, as he is part of a band. “This is the course I have most fun in. Professor Poister is very funny! I was really surprised to know that he was part of a band,” said Maggie Shuting Cao, a first semester television graduate student.

Professor Poister gives his students creative leeway while giving them hands-on instruction for learning the techniques of film production. Students learn to differentiate between producing say, a more dramatic, fictional movie and one that is more ground in reality, a documentary kind of production. This way they learn two different ways to narrate stories, all in one semester.

Mohammad Behroozian, a student from Afghanistan, who took the class this semester said he really appreciated the “opportunity to test the edges of [his] creativity.” For his first project he produced a stop-motion animation. Beginning right from scratch, he built a set on his study-table. He created mannequins and gave them costumes and lit it artificially. Check out his work here!

Mohammad Behroozian says he would like to work on producing educational television material for children back in Kabul once he graduates from BU’s College of Communication.

Want to learn more about the programs offered by COM’s Film/TV department? Visit our website here and find out how you can apply to one of the graduate programs here at COM.

 

 

 

 

 

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BU’s College of Communication offers a degree that could help you develop the next big app

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

Tucked away in the College of Communication’s Film & Television department sits a relatively new Master’s program that you may not know much about—Media Ventures (visit our site to find out program details). The program, which has only been around for five years, already has its graduates making quite a splash in the world of new media.

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Media Ventures (MV) is a 12-month MS program that focuses on media innovation and entrepreneurship—a creative degree for creative students. This bi-coastal program combines practical experience with theory and mentorship to help students prepare for a career in technology, business and media (if the business component appeals to you more, a dual MBA/MS degree in MV is available- more information can be found here).

“I look at it as the new producing,” says Media Ventures Director Cathy Perron. “I was a TV producer and I liken this to that process [producing]. You have the idea phase to air date, and all the constituents you work with until the show airs. Here, instead you are coming up with a new media process and working with similar constituencies,” she says.

MV graduate students get ready for PitchFest 2014 in LA.
MV graduate students get ready for PitchFest 2014 in LA.

During their first semester in Boston, MV students develop a new media business product or service, complete with prototype, business and marketing plans (this project serves as the degree’s thesis component). Students work with each other to brainstorm and pitch different ideas. The following two semesters are spent in Los Angeles, where students complete two internships while simultaneously finalizing their thesis. “Los Angeles has a very vibrant startup community and most are focused on media startups,” says Perron.

Students in MV talk about their experiences as interns in start-ups in Boston and LA.

As the two semesters unfold in LA, students are constantly working to improve their new media project. Each summer, COM hosts their annual summer PitchFest, which gives MV students the opportunity to present their projects to a guest panel of media start-up and venture capital experts. This 15-minute presentation with 15 minutes of Q&A allows students to receive valuable feedback on their ideas and create networking connections with those in the media industry. Check out pictures from this year’s PitchFest by liking BUMediaVentures on Facebook.

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Even if creating the next big app is not your goal, there are other things you can do you’re your MV degree. “Students who have graduated are getting really good jobs,” says Perron. “They are in well-compensated strategic positions. The program was timely in its launch because the kinds of jobs out there are jobs that Media Ventures will prepare students for,” she says. The program has alums in positions like Senior Manager at Hulu and Editor of Bloomberg.com.

Beth Haber, Consumer Insights Manager at Hulu and graduate of the program, says her role at Hulu is directly related to what she learned in Media Ventures. “Media Ventures is focused on the execution of media and the introduction of new media platforms,” she says. “Hulu has really been a part of that. It’s interesting to see what I was learning in the program and how it relates to what I do every day now,” Haber says.

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MV students with HBO Senior Vice President, Jay Roewe (COM ’79) at 2014 PitchFest in LA.

COM’s current MV class is comprised of students from all walks of life—a largely international crew with backgrounds in technology and engineering, design and even law. “What I want to stress is it’s a cross-disciplinary program,” says Perron. “Anybody who’s interested in any different form of media could come into this program as a one-year grad program and learn the strategies of innovation,” she says. “You get real roll-up-your-sleeves practical experience, where at the end you have a calling card [thesis project] to show a possible employer or investor and you can show them what you’ve done from concept to marketplace,” says Perron. “It’s a tremendous opportunity.”

Make sure to follow @BUmediaventures, so you can keep up with what’s going on in their program.

Do you have a great idea for media innovation? The Media Ventures graduate program could be for you! Learn how BU’s College of Communication can help you take that next step in your career by visiting our site here. Have questions? Ask us in the comment section below.

Check out the video below to hear what HBO Senior Vice President, Jay Roewe (COM ’79) has to say about PitchFest and the forward-looking aspect of a Media Ventures degree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Behind the scenes: Film/TV and Journalism grad students work together

By Nikita Sampath
MS Broadcast Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication 

On various Fridays throughout the semester, BU’s Film and Television department at the College of Communication hosts free premier screenings of innovative film and television programs. This screening series is part of the department’s Cinemathèque: meetings and conversations with filmmakers/television-makers. The series’ curator is Gerald Peary, a cinema professor at Suffolk University and a long-time film critic for the Boston Phoenix. He chooses his BU programs based on his extensive contacts in the professional film world and from his travels to film festivals around the globe.

For each featured production, a special guest  (the producer, filmmaker, etc.) is invited to COM for the screening. During the screening, film students quickly escort the filmmaker to a brief interview shoot.  Afterwards, a Q&A is held to provide more information to the audience regarding the production process.

Setting up the interview.
Setting up the interview with Journalism and Film/TV graduate students .

However, it wasn’t until after this year’s first screening that the After this year’s first screening, the Cinemathèque team decided they wanted to shoot interviews with the featured guests. Clearly, figuring out the production technicalities for these interviews would not be an issue, but what they did need was someone who could ask the right questions.

Without much thought, fingers pointed in the direction of third semester Broadcast Journalism graduate student, Alistair Birrell. “I thought it would be a good way to hone my interviewing skills,” he said.

On Friday, October 24, Birrell interviewed filmmaker Frank V. Ross, during the screening of his film, Tiger Tail in Blue. This was Birrell’s second interview of the semester for Cinemathèque.

Allistair Birrell interviews filmmaker Frank V. Ross.
Alistair Birrell (MS, Broadcast Journalism ’15) interviews filmmaker Frank V. Ross.

With only a fifteen minute window, Birrell must make sure he steers the interview in the correct way. “Where are you from?” Ross asked Birrell during the interview. “I’m from Scotland, but we can talk about me later,” Birrell quickly responded.

Birrell prepares some of his questions beforehand.

After each interview, students on the production team edit the video down to around three or four minutes. All interviews are featured on the Cinemathèque page, so be sure to check out Alistair’s full interview with Ross.

Overall, this program is an excellent example of COM’s Film and Television department preparing its students with hands-on, practical experience for the ever so competitive entertainment industry. These are lessons no textbook can teach, yet something every student should experience.

Take a look at the 2014 Cinemathèque schedule here to see what will be screening over the next few weeks. Although these screenings are designed to primarily  benefit  Film and TV students, they are free for all BU students and professors as well as the general public.

Interested in applying to one of the graduate programs at BU’s College of Communication? Tell us which one and why in the comments below.

To find out more about all of the graduate programs available through COM, be sure to check out our website here.

 *Pictures by Nikita Sampath