Academics- Fall & Spring

The Academic Program  (12-15 total credits)Fall 2014 students

The Los Angeles Semester provides a very robust and challenging academic program taught by media industry professionals.  Students will have an opportunity to learn from our dedicated faculty as well as current industry professionals who are invited in as guest speakers.  Being in Los Angeles also affords our students the unique opportunity to participate in field trips to studios, production companies, post-production houses, and much more.

All students are required to register for the LA Internship Experience class PLUS an additional 3 credit LA Semester class OR three 1 credit LA Semester classes.

 (Ideally, students are advised to register for two SULA Campus electives, plus the internship class, AND 1-2  Arts & Sciences classes to complete a 12-15 credit semester schedule.)


LA Internship Experience – REQUIRED (offered in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the College of Visual & Performing Arts)

This course will serve as a complement to the student’s hands on experience in the professional workplace. In class, we will offer a forum to discuss any challenges, concerns and questions that may arise regarding student’s internships. We will expose students to entertainment industry decision makers and influencers giving students a chance to interact with working professionals in a more intimate setting. Students are expected to research the background of any guest speakers so as to thoroughly engage in the in-class conversation. Through this and an exploration of current news gathered from the industry trade papers (Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Times, Deadline, etc.) , students will sharpen their critical perspective of the business part of show business.

Students will keep a journal of their experiences at their internships. Entries in these journals will serve as the basis for further discussion as each student will meet one to one with the Director and the Assistant Director during the semester. Each student will be required to contribute one blog about their experiences living and/or working in Los Angeles to be posted on the SULA Semester website.

As a final assignment, students will present a cohesive overview of how their internships shaped, shifted or changed their ideas about the industry and what specifically has added to their knowledge base in terms of skills obtained, professional associations, networking groups, leveraging social media for professional gain, etc. Students have the option of writing a paper or creating a short video.

Courses in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications:

The Business of Development, Production, & Post Production                                                      

This class will thoroughly explore the process by which films and television programs evolve…from inception of ideas through the development, production and post–production process. Students will discover how the business environment of the entertainment industry shapes the creative process and they will see what challenges must be met in order to bring about the best art and the most successful bottom line. They will understand how their ability to navigate this landscape will impact their success in the industry. Instructor and Professional guest speakers will provide real world perspectives.

This course will include a mix of lectures, visual presentations, practical hands-on experience, conversation with guest speakers currently working in the entertainment industry, handouts, and vigorous student participation.


Writers Journey                                                            

In this class we will journey through the writer’s experience, both your experiences as young, learning writers and the experiences of the seasoned, professional writer. We will explore the fundamentals of writing for the screen, both through lecture and a simulated professional “writers’ room” atmosphere in which students will pitch ideas and have their work read aloud at table reads. We will also examine, with the help of our guest writers, the realities of the professional writing process in the entertainment business today – the joys, the frustrations, the collaborations and connectivity’s. Guest writers may be invited to sit in on table readings of student material to give their notes and thoughts.

We will hear how the professional writer creates a project that comes to life in an existing show business world, not in an idealized vacuum. The writer is the first of three main storytellers in the process, along with the director and the editor. We glimpse through the writer’s eyes how other people and things – producers, casting, timing, etc. – all come into play to affect the final product.

*There is no required textbook, however, there will be required reading of articles and scripts. Students will need to bring multiple hard copies of their work when it is to be read in class. Additionally, students will form screening groups, each group being responsible for acquiring a Netflix or Blockbuster account. The expense will be shared among members of the group.


Camera Acting for Writers, Producers and Directors                    

This class for non-actors will introduce and explore the process by which actors prepare and execute their performances for film. It will examine the elements of film-making that actors must be aware of like cinematography, lighting, editing, etc. It will also explore the relationship of the director to the actor. This course will require the students to assume the role of an actor and learn and execute the techniques required to excel in the craft.

This course will be comprised of watching and examining great performances by select professional actors, reading highly regarded books on the craft of acting and analyzing performing and/or directing memorized scenes on camera.


TV Nation                                                                                  

Suspend belief for just a moment. You are no longer in a classroom—but now in the entertainment industry. You are a writer, a producer, or perhaps a big time network development executive. This class is as real as it gets—in fact you will be pitching your shows to an industry panel. Even better, you may end up in the offices of a real network pitching your show to executives. Anything can happen in TV NATION.

Welcome to the course that gives you an opportunity to experience first-hand how the world of broadcast network and cable television works from two points of view: business and creative. These two areas not only can work together, but also compete. The three primary groups you’ll be learning about are writers, producers and networks. In TV NATION students will participate in an exercise that spans the semester to learn first-hand the anatomy of a show from idea through development and pitch phases, to final pick-up by a network for the upcoming season. We’ll also focus on the network business models as well as the importance of digital and web based components as network strategy. This is a class unlike any other you’ve ever taken… why? Because it’s real. What happens in TV NATION is what happens in ‘the business.’ And while the business is ever changing with the times, so is TV NATION.  *No required textbook.


The Television/Radio/Film Capstone course in Los Angeles will take students on an up-close immersive journey through the ever-changing ecosystem of the Los Angeles media industry, including traditional TV, feature films, cable TV, the syndication business, social media and the new digital guys on the block.

Rapid fire changes brought on by the millennial generation’s use of mobile and social media, combined with the advent of big data, OTT distribution, new video technologies and globalization have caused disruption in entertainment industry.

Through field trips to executive boardrooms, classroom interaction with industry guest speakers and tech demonstrations, students will get an up close and personal look at the “disruption game.” Writers, Producers, Directors, Programmers and Studio Executives will share their battle plans to remain competitive.

As a final project students will have a choice between preparing a White Paper or a Written Creative Proposal in which students will have to defend the conclusions they draw about the future of a segment of the entertainment industry.

Each student will make a 5-10 minute live presentation of his or her work in front of an invited industry panel.


Master Seminar: Line Producing                                                    

This class will be a Case Study of a produced film taught by the Producer of that film. Emphasis will be on the practical aspects of the Line Producer’s job and how the Line Producer interfaces with all the other departments throughout the production. The Case Study will spotlight staffing, setting and meeting timelines, production calendars, scheduling, how to evaluate weather conditions, union contracts and production incentives, what happens on a daily basis on the set and how to supervise the various departments during shooting. The curriculum will include a mock location scout.


Master Seminar: Cinematography in Practice 

Cinematography in Practice is a course that aims to explore the art and craft of cinematography in practice from the perspective of a working professional based in Los Angeles, California.   Students will be allowed the opportunity to gain hands on access to the various stages of a cinematographer’s role in crafting and creating the visuals for a motion picture production.  This involves creating the visual design with the director, assembling crew and equipment, planning the logistics of shooting the movie, and supervising the final look of the film.


Master Seminar: Producing the Music Video                                         

Have you ever wanted to make a Music Video? Now is your chance! Students in this seminar will work in teams to produce, shoot and edit their own music video. They will be guided by one of the most experienced Producers of music & concert videos in the entertainment industry. The class will take students through the process of completing a treatment, shooting on location and editorial. The completed works will be screened at Chainsaw Post Production, one of the premier post production facilities in Los Angeles. Regardless of whether your interests lie in producing, directing, writing or editing you will find this immersive experience will add to your skill set.


Courses in the College of Arts and Sciences:

Classical Hollywood Cinema and the Studio System        

This course will study the aesthetics, historical context, economics, censorship, technological developments of Hollywood studio filmmaking. Students will leave the course with an understanding of the history of studio era Hollywood against the wider backdrop of the cultural history of Los Angeles and the United States. This course will examine Hollywood narrative cinema from the beginning of the sound era in the late 1920s to the demise of the studio system in the late 1950s. Topics will include the emergence of genres, the star system, changing audiences, the innovations of sound and television, and controversies over film content. Students will also acquire some advanced skills for film history research using local archives in the Los Angeles area.


Courses in the College of Visual and Performing Arts:
(Fall semester only)

Law for the Music & Entertainment Industries

This course is designed to introduce students to the many legal questions faced by those in the entertainment industry. Through a combination of lectures, class discussions and other resource materials, students will study and analyze cases and problems involving issues that are relevant to the major aspects of the music and entertainment businesses including recording, publishing, management, live music, licensing and broadcasting.


Music, Technology & Emerging Opportunities

The class explores how technology has had an impact on the music industry and how the current tech space changes the music industry almost daily.  The class explores the opportunity that this creates for entrepreneurial and forward-thinking students in the music and creative spaces.