Syllabus_Film-Art-Change_SummerInt_2015 PDF LINK TO SYLLABUS



SUMMER, 2015

FILM, ART, CHANGE: Making Movies to Make a Difference

(NSPC 0101 A, CRN 2756)

Summer Filmmaking Intensive



Amir Husak (

Joel Schlemowitz (


Teaching Assistant:

Daryl Meador (


Monday – Friday, 9:00-11:50 AM, 1:00PM-3:50PM

Jul 6 – Jul 31, 2015

66 5th Ave, Room N400

2 W 13th Street, Room 1011 (editing lab)


Online Course Component:


Course Description and Overview

This summer intensive course is designed to provide an opportunity for pre-college students to develop their creative filmmaking practice, focusing on individual production, group projects and critical discussion. The course combines 16mm filmmaking craft with high-definition (HD) digital video techniques and tools, immersing students in the history and practice of making movies. Focusing on film as social practice on location in New York City, students gain a critical understanding of how re-imagining the city through multimedia storytelling engages, provokes, delights, and informs audiences. You will work in a group to develop, shoot and edit socially engaged short film projects that are screened publicly at the end of the course. Over the course of the term we will move from acquiring basic technical skills to a consideration of more complex production scenarios. We will look into history and conceptual frameworks of socially engaged art and film, addressing ethics and methodologies of media/political activism, culture jamming, public interventions, and community oriented participatory work. Class time will be divided between practical hands-on sessions, field trips, guest artist talks and lectures. You will be required to complete production assignments and bring them to class and/or post them on our course blog. We will view and discuss documentary, experimental, and narrative film and new media works that respond to social, economic, political and environmental crises.

This course is divided in two sections: digital video/hybrid (Monday – Thursday) and analog film section (Fridays). I want to emphasize that the course is very demanding, and requires that students attend to both the technical and artistic aspects of film production- they are equally important. Your input and participation is extremely important! As filmmaking is most often a collaborative art, students are expected to work together to complete most of the exercises. The subject/content of your films is obviously a crucial ingredient! A technically competent film with uninspired content isn’t enough. On the other hand, having a good idea is only the first step. You need the tools and know-how to express yourself. Over the semester, you may feel yourself having difficulty balancing these two aspects of film- the technical and the creative. I will try to put things into perspective in class whenever I can- but in order for me to do this, your dedication, preparation, and participation are critical. Please note that the work produced in this course will be documented on our website (link is above). You will be required to log in and regularly contribute to the site.

Learning Outcome

Upon successful completion of this course, a student should possess the following abilities and knowledge:

  • Work collaboratively to create a technically accomplished short film using both analog and digital tools
  • Recognize the impact of movies on society and their relationship to contemporary forms of citizenship
  • Employ the communicative language of cinema and its expressive techniques
  • Appreciate modes of filmic expression beyond the conventional scripted narrative
  • Engage with the history of a range of cinematic practices
  • Articulate their own personal aesthetics and voice more assuredly
  • Invest themselves in a community as critical and engaged adults

Class Requirements

A variety of handouts and readings will be posted and distributed in class each week. There are no required books for this class, but I highly recommend you obtain the following text: 

The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age (2013 Edition). Steven Ascher and Edward Pincus.

Publisher: Plume; 4 Rev Upd edition (November 27, 2012)

ISBN-10: 0452297281

ISBN-13: 978-0452297289


Equipment Requirements

All production equipment will be provided by our department’s Film Office and the school’s main Equipment Center:

Film Office | 65 5th Ave, Room 401 (4th floor, room adjacent to our classroom N400) | 212-229-5899

Equipment Center | 55 West 13th St., Rm 921 (9th floor) | 212.229.5300, x4556 |



Your TA, Daryl Meador, and the Media Studies Production Office (and, of course, myself and Joel Schlemovitz) are additional resources for all students needing additional assistance with equipment use and other technical issues. If you are a for-credit student, The New School Libraries and Archives has made available to you for free. is also available for free with your Brooklyn Public Library card or a New York Public Library card. offers online software instruction and professional development tutorials, including video tutorials for software we will use in class.

Our website will be the place where regularly post about events, screenings and other recommended activities. These are extracurricular and meant to make you familiar with the thriving New York media creative scene. Please consider attending some of these as they will undoubtedly enrich both your learning experience and your creative practice.

From TNS Library, can be accessed through the “databases” tab on the library website (search for it by title under “L”). Once a user profile is created on the site, can also be accessed on mobile and tablet apps, which are available in Apple’s App Store (for iPhones and iPads) and the Google Play Store (for Android devices).


Work Load

Due to the fact that this is an intensive, full-time course the class incorporates studio time for production assignments. However, students are also expected to work at least 6 hours a week outside of class.



One-sheets with all the necessary assignment details will be handed out and/or posted on our site as the semester progresses. All assignments must be completed on time. Please note that there are three kinds of assignments: individual, partner (working with another classmate), group (working in a group of 3 or 4), and in-class short individual assignments/exercises. Please have them ready to hand in IN CLASS THE DAY THEY ARE DUE. Here is the list:

  1. Like/Dislike (INDIV.) – a collection of images that introduce you to the class.
  2. Urban landscape (GROUP) – visual portrait of a place using a sequence of still images
  3. Montage (PARTNER) – a juxtaposition exercise, picture edit of a scene from a class shoot / found footage
  4. Artificial soundscape (PARTNER) – edit and manipulate recorded sound to emphasize or subvert object/space characteristics
  5. Short Audio Documentary (GROUP) – record an interview and produce a short, multitrack audio documentary
  6. Project Treatment / Storyboard (GROUP)
  7. Distributed Narrative (GROUP) – Using video, audio and QR codes, create a story in public space
  8. Sound Design / Collage (GROUP) – produce a soundtrack for the film collage produced in Joel’s analog class.
  9. Text/animation PSA (PARTNER) – Using only text and compositing/kinetic animation techniques produce a short PSA film.
  10. Final Project (GROUP)

*NOTE: The analog Friday sessions also have a set of assignments which will be addressed separately and announced on a weekly basis.


Criterion for Grading Projects

Each assignment will be graded in part on how well the criteria of the assignment are met. These criteria will be distributed and discussed as assigned. Broadly, projects will be graded on both technical and aesthetic terms and improvement over the class will be factored in. In order to earn full credit for a particular assignment (grade of A), work is of exceptional quality, goes above and beyond the expectations and requirements described in the assignment.

Final Grade Calculation (with points)

Like/Dislike                                           5

Urban Landscape                               5

Montage                                              5

Artificial Soundscape                          5

Short Audio Doc                                  10

Project Treatment/Storyboard             5

Distributed Narrative                           10

Sound Design / Collage                       10

Text/animation PSA                             5

*Participation                                       20

Final Project                                        20


93 – 100 A
90 – 92 A –
87 – 89 B +
84 – 86 B
80 – 83 B –
77 – 79 C +
74 – 76 C
70 – 73 C –
69 or less F



The importance of participation in a class like this cannot be overstated. One of the most valuable aspects of this class is to discuss ideas with other new filmmakers. You can hone your critical skills as you practice accepting advice and criticism. Besides the lectures, the bulk of this class– such as in-class shoots and workshopping film projects– requires collaborative efforts. All well thought out and carefully expressed viewpoints will be respected. I expect you to describe what you are hearing/seeing, offer an interpretation, elaborate on an idea, introduce new ideas, disagree, or question.

Helping classmates with their films is considered part of the participation grade. I can guarantee you that you will learn much more about filmmaking and your own film projects will turn out much better, if you learn how to work on others’ projects and have them work on yours.

Class participation is worth 20 points. To receive all 20 possible points for participation you must demonstrate proficiency in areas outlined below.

Attendance:  Students who receive all 20 points will have perfect attendance.  Their commitment to the class resembles that of the professor.

Preparation: Students who receive all 20 points are prepared for every class.  They always have their materials with them for presentation/discussion or in-class editing, and are prepared to contribute ideas or questions in class.

Curiosity: Students who receive all 20 points show interest in the class and in the subject.  They look up information that they don’t know and go beyond the material included in the syllabus and demonstrate that they are actively making discoveries that they rework and experiment with.

Classroom Conduct: Students who receive all 20 points are active and enabling members of the classroom. This means formulating thoughtful and relevant responses during class discussions, screenings, and critiques.  They contribute productively to group work, providing comments to classmates that are focused, specific, and meaningful, and encouraging a dialogue with your classmates by welcoming and asking questions of one another.

Attitude: Students who receive all 20 points have a mature attitude.  They have both the self-discipline and the determination necessary for successful creative explorations and film production.  They show initiative.  They take responsibility for their own work and problem solve when plans do not turn out exactly as expected (i.e. faulty equipment, lab delays are challenges, not excuses).

Organization: Students who receive all 20 points will be organized.  Filmmaking requires, above all, organization.  You should devise a system that allows you to access all you work quickly and easily.



The New School requires all credit students to attend every class. Since this is a vast subject compressed into a very small period of time, attendance is critical.   If you must be absent, please do you best to notify me in advance. 1 absence will not affect your grade (please, again, try to notify me at least 24 hours in advance). 2 absences will result in a half letter grade reduction.   3 absences will result in a full drop in a letter grade. 4 (or more) missed classes and you will fail the class (this includes missing first class as a result of late registration, sickness, and any other extenuating and circumstance).

It is every student’s right to fail. There are circumstances where students cannot, for some external reason, fulfill the attendance requirement of the class. While these are often personal and difficult circumstances, I do not make judgments about them. The class requirements remain the same for everyone.


Class will start promptly at 9:00. The door to the classroom will be closed at that time. Please show up on time. Students who are consistently late will miss important materials, and should ask another student (rather than the instructor) what they missed. Students who are consistently late should also be aware they disrupt the class as a whole.

Anyone walking in more than 5 minutes after the class has begun will be marked late. More than two instances of lateness will be marked as an absence. Showing up over 20 minutes late will also be considered an absence.

Cell Phones and Texting

Please turn off your cell phone before you enter class. Unless I announce that we are using mobile technologies to complete some course assignments, there is absolutely no cell phone use and no texting during class, whether we are inside the classroom or on a shoot.



Please check your e-mail regularly. E-mail is a way for me to notify the class of any class business, or to let you know if something has changed. E-mail is a way for you to: ask me a basic question; make an appointment with me for more complicated questions; or let me know you’ll be absent (24 hrs in advance).

I generally respond to my e-mail within a few hours, but sometimes things come up. If you do not hear from me, please contact the TA or another student in the class to try to find the answer to your question.

PLEASE DO NOT e-mail me assignments in lieu of giving them to me in class. If you’re going to be absent on the day something is due, you can give your assignment to another student to turn in, or accept that the work is going to be late.

Late Assignment Policy

Because of the quick pace, dense content of this class, and the fact that everything builds upon the assignment before it, it is really to your advantage to turn in all work on time, or risk falling uncomfortably behind. It is your responsibility to follow the deadlines specified on the syllabus.

Film notoriously requires a lot of advance planning. Films depend on outside forces (the weather, people helping you, the lab, etc) that you have very little control over. Think of these things as challenges not excuses. Please, plan ahead. Ask if you need advice about time management. Late work will only be accepted if arrangements are made ahead of time.


Course Outline

This schedule is a good estimate of how things will unfold over the semester, but things may change according to class needs.           

Week Date Class Theme and Activities Assignments, Readings, Viewing
Week 1 Jul 6 – Introductions and student orientation- Equipment policy and reservations- Course goals and objectives explained 

– Brief history of film and art as social practice |   works screened in class

– Set up course blog and student profiles

Screenings:Selection of works by Krysztof Wodiczko and Shimon AttiePeter Watkins “War Game”, “Punishment Park” (time permitting)


Jul 7 -Assignment #1 presentations-Intro to analog section with Joel Schlemovitz-Introduction to photography: lighting, composition, camera controls

– Class shoot #1: Urban landscape photo essay (field trip group project)


Assignment #1 “like/dislike” images dueScreening: Stefan Nadelman “Terminal Bar”, Rudy Burckhardt NYC films, selection of works by Shirin Neshat 
Jul 8 – Review Urban Landscape projects- Photography continued: 2-D techniques, closure, lenses, depth of field- Adobe Photoshop basics 

Afternoon field trip to MoMA, Scenes for a New Heritage: Contemporary Art



Assignment #2 “Urban landscape” (group)
Jul 9 -Sequencing and digital video explained-Camera techniques in-class demonstrations-Introduction to Panasonic HMC150 HD camcorder- Discuss ideas for group final projects: social value, impact, audience. Representing the underrepresented: The ethics and methodology


-Afternoon non-linear editing workshop: Adobe Premiere (importing, organizing footage, three-point edit and export)

– shot-to-edit: continuity & montage

– working with archival, found footage

Screening: Marc Isaacs, “Lift” OR “Calais: The Last Border”, Saul Levine “New Left Note“Assigned viewing: Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin, “Chronicle of a Summer”
Jul 10  -ANALOG WORKSHOP WITH JOEL S. Details provided in class
Week 2 Jul 13 – Montage assignment viewing and critique- Sound walk field trip (Greenwich Vil.)- Social and political aspects of sound- Listening exercises

– Importing and editing audio afternoon workshop session (edit lab 1011)

Assignment #3 “Montage” dueListening: Alvin Lucier, Hildegard Westerkamp, Public Secrets (Sharon Daniel)
Jul 14 – Location and studio sound- Understanding acoustics and soundscapes- Sound as fifth dimension- Microphones, mixers, wireless comm.

– In-class sound recording exercises


– Afternoon workshop: multichannel audio editing and mixing – students produce a multitrack sound edit.

Assignment #4 “Artificial soundscape” edit due 

Listening: Radiolab Sound as Touch, Walter Murch “Apocalypse Now” sound edits

Jul 15 – Assignment #5 listening and critique- Project deveopment: story boards, treatment, and production planning- In-class exercise: working in groups, develop a treatment and storyboard/wireframe for a short docu “teaser” 

– Afternoon field camera exercises (shooting for coverage, camera movement, location audio and production coordination).



Assignment #5 “Short audio documentary” dueScreening: Marjane Satrapi “Persepolis”, Steve James & Alex Kotlowitz “The Interrupters” 
Jul 16 – Group project treatment review- Discussing distributed narrative: media public interventions- Working with your group, produce a QR code driven distributed narrative project in the neighborhood and engage the public. Assignment guidelines will be distributed in class. 

– Afternoon visit to The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens


Jul 17 -ANALOG WORKSHOP WITH JOEL SCHLEMOWITZ Details provided in class 



Week 3 Jul 20 – Review (and tour) distributed narrative group projects- Group production meetings: final projectsAfternoon screening of “My Brooklyn” followed by Q and A with guest filmmaker, Kelly Anderson


Assignment #7 “Distributed narrative” due
Jul 21 – Sound design session: Working in a group, create a soundtrack to the visual collages produced in the analog section with Joel.- afternoon editing and mixing at the edit lab 1011- review Sound Design projects

– Discussion: expanded media, art as social practice


Assignment #8 “Sound design / collage” due (completed in class today)Screening: selection of socially engaged art works/public installations (Santiago Sierra, Fluxus, Jody Wood and others)


Jul 22 – Discussion: culture jamming and media activismProject development workshop: group meetings and “teaser” shoot in the AM- afternoon “teaser” edit. Working with Adobe Premiere. Footage critique, logging and transcribing techniques, prep for paper edit.


Teaser edit (in class)Screening: The Yes Men collective interventions, Ant Farm “The Eternal Flame” (and other projects), TVTV “Four More Years”
Jul 23 -AM visit to Union Docs Center for Documentary Art in Brooklyn– Discussion: film, new media, public policy and identity politics- afternoon graphics, compositing, and animation workshop (Photoshop and Adobe Premiere). Students develop a text/animation based PSA in-class Screening: Shirin Banou-Barghi, “Last Words”, Kat Cizek “Highrise” project
Jul 24 -ANALOG WORKSHOP WITH JOEL SCHLEMOWITZ Details provided in class 








Week 4 Jul 27 – PSA project viewing and critique- Group post-production meetings and critiques, logging and transcribing, paper edit. 

Afternoon screening followed by Q&A with filmmaker Lynne Sachs


Assigment #9 “Text/animation PSA” videos due
Jul 28 – Postproduction workshop I: Adobe Premiere Advanced editing incl. organizing footage, from script to stringouts, starting assembly edit
Jul 29 – Postproduction workshop II: Adobe Premiere Advanced editing incl. assembly to rough cut. Trimming scenes.
Jul 30 – AM screening of selected works followed by Q&A with filmmaker and activist Michael Premo– Postproduction workshop III: Adobe Premiere Advanced editing incl. rough cut to fine cut. Video/Audio layers, color correction and mixing.
Jul 31 -FINAL PROJECTS DUE!-Complete online evaluation surveys-Afternoon screening and adjournment party -Final Project DUE!-Complete online evaluation surveys



University Policies



Students are responsible for all assignments, even if they are absent from class. Late papers, failure to complete the readings assigned for class discussion, and lack of preparedness for in-class discussions and presentations will jeopardize your successful completion of this course.



Class participation is an essential part of class and includes: keeping up with reading, coming to class regularly and on time, contributing meaningfully to class discussions, and active participation in group work.



The New School adheres to a Zero Tolerance Policy regarding absences and requires all credit students to attend every class. Any unexplained absence will adversely affect your grade If a credit student has more than two unexcused absences, the grade will be lowered. If a credit student misses two consecutive classes, the instructor will notify the Coordinator of Academic Student Services (212.229.5615).



Use of the online course site (, accessible through your MyNewSchool account, is an important component of class. Participation in periodic online assignments and discussion groups may be required.



In rare instances, the instructor may be delayed arriving to class. If s/he has not arrived by the time class is scheduled to start, you must wait a minimum of thirty minutes before leaving. In the event that the instructor will miss class entirely, a sign will be posted on the classroom door.



Plagiarism or cheating of any kind in the course of academic work will not be tolerated. Academic honesty includes accurate use of quotations, as well as appropriate and explicit citation of sources in instances of paraphrasing and describing ideas, or of reporting on research findings or any aspect of the work of others—including that of instructors and other students. These standards of academic honesty and citation of sources apply to all forms of academic work: examinations, essays, theses, computer work, art and design work, oral presentations, and other projects. The New School adheres to a Zero Tolerance Policy regarding plagiarism. Plagiarism will result in an F in the course at the discretion of the instructor and in accordance with the University’s policy on plagiarism (see Student Handbook).



The New School Library offers frequent research workshops for students, the day, time, and location of which are posted to the Library webpage ( each semester. The library also provides one-on-one support for students who in conducting research for a paper or project require additional assistance. Students can contact the library about scheduling a one-on-one appointment with a reference librarian at the following link:



A grade of “incomplete” may be assigned by an instructor at his/her discretion. If an instructor is inclined to offer an incomplete, then the student has a maximum of 4 weeks after the last day of class to complete and submit to the instructor the outstanding work and/or the work agreed upon by the instructor and student. An incomplete becomes an “Unofficial Withdrawal and Failure” (WF) if the work is not submitted in a timely fashion.



In keeping with the University’s policy of providing equal access for students with disabilities, any student with a disability who needs academic accommodations should contact the office of Student Disability Services on the 3rd floor of 80 Fifth Avenue. All conversations will be kept confidential. Students requesting any accommodations will also need to meet with the office of Student Disability Services, who will conduct an intake, and if appropriate, provide an academic accommodation notification letter. The direct line is (212) 229-5626 x3135. You may also access more information through the University’s web site. You may also find more information at:



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