50 Week Film School Curriculum

Inspired by Catherine Grant sharing Mark Cousin's idea of a 50 week film school curriculum, here's my own version of that idea.

Week 1 


Hand students a digital camera and tell them to go film something honest. Can be anything so long as I believe it. Film it in days 1 and 2, edit them the rest of the week. 


Week 2 


Watch documentary films by Robert Flaherty and Robert Greene, examine dramatic truth, cinematic non-fiction. 


Week 3 


Keaton, Chaplin, Murnau and truth without words


Week 4 


Show all of John Cassavetes' movies as director, and the Dick Cavett interview with Falk, Gazzara and Cassavetes. Film is a series of accidents. 


Week 5


John Carpenter, Ingmar Bergman and how to fill a frame. 

Week 6 


Montage, from Eisenstein to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. 

Week 7 


See any and all repertory cinema available in the outside world. Must be on celluloid. Students must take notes on impressions of watching film in every case. 


Week 8 


Joe Swanberg's Silver Bullets, Art History, Kissing on the Mouth, and Aaron Katz' Quiet City, and Cold Weather - focus as a way around budgetary restrictions.


Week 9 


Michael Snow, Hollis Frampton, Peter Kubelka, James Benning and how to communicate with the natural world. 


Week 10


Cameras handed out again. Short films (20+ minutes) must incorporate environment and written dialogue. 


Week 11


Edit resulting films. Show them to cadre of critics for reactions. 


Week 12


Powell & Pressburger and how to build a world across several films.

Week 13


Terence Malick and what a script can't tell you


Week 14 


Bill Morrison and how to interact with images. 


Week 15 


First week on how to film comedy, Preston Sturges vs. Jerry Lewis


Week 16


Second week on how to film comedy, Frank Tashlin, Billy Wilder & Jacques Tati. 


Week 17


Third week on how to film comedy, Laurel & Hardy. 


Week 18


Fourth week on how to film comedy, screwball comedy. 

Week 19

Exploitation: from Dwain Esper/Kroger Babb through to Michael Findlay


Week 20


Exploitation from Russ Meyer to Shauna Grant


Week 21


Third World Cinema: marxism and equal distribution of the tools of filmmaking. 


Week 22


Romantic Comedy, and how to draw characters worth caring about.


Week 23 


French New Wave & Giallo, radicalism evolving in two different directions, all from Roberto Rossellini 


Week 24


Filmed plays and how to handle theatricality

Week 25


Film scoring, Miklós Rózsa through to Jonny Greenwood, but really we're talking about Michael Nyman here. 


Week 26


Italo-modernism: L'Avventura, La Dolce Vita, The Grim Reaper, Fists In The Pocket, Before The Revolution, 8 1/2, L'Eclisse, Red Desert


Week 27

Learning how & when to move camera: PT Anderson, Max Ophüls, Ramon Zürcher, Wes Anderson, Orson Welles. 


Week 28


Old Hollywood grandeur. Presented without comment: forgetting about context and just trying to enjoy the image. One Tobe Hooper  film at the end of every day of screenings. 


Week 29


Classic Criticism: close readings of Manny Farber, Andrew Sarris, Otis Ferguson, Roger Ebert, Cahiers Du Cinema, James Baldwin, Pauline Kael, Lindsay Anderson.


Week 30


Modern Criticism: Kent Jones, J Hoberman, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Dan Sallitt, Daniel Kasman, Ryland Walker Knight, Molly Haskell, Linda Williams, Miriam Bale, Keith Uhlich, Calum Marsh, David Cairns, Wesley Morris, Armond White, Aaron Cutler, Fernando Croce, Ben Sachs and more. Students will write about a film meaningful to them.


Week 31


Video Essays: Haroun Farocki, Kevin B. Lee, Matt Zoller Seitz, Chris Marker, Nelson Carvajal. Students will make a film without once picking up a camera.


Week 32


Cinematography masterclass: How to hide truth in sumptuousness, and how to properly film Tilda Swinton: The Conformist, Apocalypse Now Redux, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Pandora & The Flying Dutchman, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, I Am Love, The Limits of Control, Ashes of Time Redux, We Need To Talk About Kevin. 

Week 33


Week off: no film or TV watching allowed. Students will go to museums and look at paintings, read poetry and listen to classical music. 


Week 34


Ken Russell & early work of Andrzej Żuławski. Students will train for steadicam pentathlon. 


Week 35


Werner Herzog. We'll see if we can meet him by a waterfall at the end of the week. 

Week 36 


Weird, independent America (Coleman Francis, George Romero, Ted Mikels, Ray Dennis Steckler, Eagle Pennell, Jim Jarmusch)


Week 36


Triumphs of independent African cinema. 

Week 37


Westerns, how history talks to itself. 

Week 38


Modern textural filmmaking: The Turin Horse, Joe, Guy Maddin, Albert Serra, Hard To Be A God, Michael Mann, Phillipe Grandrieux. 

Week 39


Film Noir landmarks. Students will rearrange the lighting scheme in eight different rooms to change psychological profile of the space. 

Week 40


Soviet Cinema


Week 41


Landmarks of feminist cinema: Dulac, Dorothy Arzner, Deren and The Wasp Woman. 


Week 42


Landmarks of feminist cinema part 2: Akerman, Breillat, Chytilová, Campion, Coppola, Shortland and more.


Week 43


North American Melodrama/Fassbinder. Start drafting final projects: one feature, format up to students.


Week 44


Write & edit final projects, run dialogue with each other and start casting. 


Week 45


Black independent American cinema: From LA Rebellion to Ava DuVernay.


Week 46


Bresson in colour / Buñuel in Paris

Week 47

John Ford, (closing night screening: If....)

Week 48

Film projects. Nightly showing of dailies. 

Week 49

Editing, midnight movies on loop in breakroom (El Topo, The Ruling Class, The Savages, 13 Assassins, Putney Swope, Below The Belt, Bohachi Bushido, Mark of the Devil, Horrors of Malformed Men, The Holy Mountain, the complete David Lynch, Sweet Movie, Mr. Freedom, Mansion of Madness, Who Could Kill a Child?, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde)

Week 50

Show final films. Celebrate by going drinking with guest lecturers Pedro Costa, Hong Sang-Soo & Lisandro Alonso. 

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