As we begin the fall 2020 semester, we’re taking precautions to ensure the safety of our students, faculty & staff during the ongoing pandemic. This page features a general FAQ provided by the LA+D Dean’s office, as well as recent information about our plans for the Film department. More information about LA+D planning can be found at the Lesley University website.
Click here to review the 2020 Laptop Requirements
Film Department Information
Lesley University will be using a “hybrid” model for the fall semester. This mean that most instruction will happen in a distance-learning format, with some access to Lunder for projects and student work. The amount of access is unknown at this stage, and the constraints due to safety are still being worked out. We’ve submitted a plan to the Dean for access that prioritizes classes and projects that need to work in Lunder. Of course, as some of you are too far away to access the building, we’re also working on how to include students who cannot get to campus. Specific information will be shared in your classes, and probably change with the circumstances.
Please note that we are working under a lot of constraints — federal, state and local guidelines for safety are very important, and Lesley is also instituting our own protocols to keep you safe. We would love nothing more than to have you all back on campus making films, but any benefit we may gain by working together on-campus would be lost if students started getting seriously ill, and we want to ensure that safety is our priority. We’re moving with the rest of the state and, because of this, things are bound to change. If the virus is contained, we may have more campus access earlier than expected. If the virus has a resurgence, we may have more distance-learning. The future remains unpredictable, so we ask for your patience and flexibility as we navigate these uncharted waters.
Regarding distance-learning, we know that the rapid move to online teaching in March had some great moments, and a few rough patches. We’re working to adapt all our classes to be the best under the current conditions — and in a few cases canceling or re-designing courses to ensure that you have a positive experience. Our emphasis is on personalized distance-learning not “online classes” — we’ll still focus on group and team experience, individualized learning, and engaging our Film community.
Importantly, we’re working to address issues raised by students around diversity, equity and inclusion. We’ve been listening and learning, and know that the Film department can do better to address these issues. We’re adding some new classes, updating our curriculum to include a broader discussion of cinema, and endeavoring to add new faculty that bring a more diverse experience to our classrooms. We’ll share more with you as this develops, but please know that this is a priority.
We’re going to be following strict safety guidelines to keep our students, faculty and staff safe. For projects that require group work, masks and distancing are expected. The Massachusetts Production Coalition has been sharing the guidelines that the film industry will be using as they re-open. We’ll be incorporating these into our classes, both for safety and also to help train you for the industry you’ll be entering.
Lockup is also adding precautions for cleaning equipment, so expect longer turnaround between when gear is returned and when it can be checked out again. Of course, Lockup access will be guided by safety planning as well, depending on overall Lunder access constraints.
For everyone’s safety, we’ll have a lenient policy regarding on-campus and group work. Students who wish to work remotely, and avoid contact with others, can let me and your professor know. You can keep your reasons confidential, just let us know. No one will be required to take risks they’re not prepared to take. Obviously, students who feel sick or are worried that they may have been exposed should avoid group work until they can be tested.
Classes & Related Info
Your two required Film courses are Concepts of Cinema 1 and DF Techniques 1.
Concepts is taught by Prof. Hamzeh, and works efficiently through distance-learning. You’ll develop scripts, learn about directing and on-set roles, and much more. Depending on campus access, we may have some group films later in the semester.
DF Tech is taught by myself and Prof. Geers. We’re currently working to adapt this course for distance-learning, and will provide you with some gear to make this possible. There will be more information about your Foundation Kits later in the summer — most likely in an email from Advising or Academic Computing. Please look out for this email — the current plan is to have students pick up packages on campus during August, with some packages shipped to students who are distant.
The three required Film courses are Sophomore: Concepts, Cinematography and History of the Moving Image 1.
Sophomore: Concepts (Profs. Nadeau & Stobbe) and HoMI (Nadeau) work well in the distance-learning format, since they are seminars which focus on reading, screenings, ideas and discussion. While certain things like our weekly screenings will change, for the most part these classes remain the same.
For Cinematography, in consultation with Prof. Kolbe, we’ve decided to move this class to the spring semester when we’re planning to be back on-campus. We’d rather move it than offer an inferior version of the course. In its place, Prof. Kolbe is developing a new class called Visualization with focuses on art direction, mise-en-scène, design, planning and more. It’s a great class! In fact, it’s so good we’re considering making it a requirement going forward!
In the spring, we’ll be canceling the Sophomore: Projects course — Visualization will count for those required credits.
The two required Film courses are Production & Management, and The Art & Craft of Screenwriting.
Screenwriting is managed by the Humanities department, and we anticipate they have been working to ensure this class is working well in the distance-learning format. (Note: this class is offered every semester, so you don’t need to take it in the fall.)
Production & Management (Prof. Muchnik) is a seminar, so distance-learning works well. We’ll still be doing the “shark tank” pitches at Halloween and the end-of-semester with industry professionals. We had great success with our Junior & Senior reviews this spring, bringing in an A-list cast of reviewers, and we’re planning to do that again for the junior pitches.
The required senior course is Thesis. In the fall, this is co-taught by Chair Nash and Prof. Stobbe.
We are still planning on shooting thesis films!
Lockup is working on a plan to provide gear kits to each student — allowing you to work with equipment for the length of your shoot without returning to Lockup. This reduces risk of contamination by sharing gear, and allows you freedom to work remotely and on-campus (safety considerations allowing). We’ve put in a plan with the Dean’s office for access to studios and computer labs, which we can refine once we start meeting and talking about your films. At this time, we’re still planning on building crews, casting actors and making the thesis films you’ve been dreaming about.
We’ll discuss in class the safety precautions that you can take, and how to complete your films in the evolving lockdown circumstances.
NOTE: you should all be working on your treatments and scripts over the summer. The more prepared you are in the fall, the better things will go. DO NOT LIMIT YOUR VISION! We encourage seniors to write the films they want to see, and don’t limit yourself to what you know you can do. THINK BIG! BE BOLD! BE VISIONARY! We’ll figure out how to get it shot, or we’ll innovate and come up with something equally amazing.
The fall electives are Genres In Cinema: Horror & Noir (Prof. Rosa), Advanced Post-Production (Prof. Sherlock), Experimental Filmmaking (Prof. Stobbe) and Directing Actors For the Screen (Prof. Hamzeh).
We’re canceling Experimental Filmmaking as we cannot teach that in the distance-learning format. If you’re enrolled in that class, please watch for an email from the Dean’s office about the cancellation.
The rest of the electives are running as planned in the distance-learning format. In some cases, we’ve requested Lunder access for projects or tools as needed — you’ll get more info in class as things evolve.
The spring electives are shaping up nicely: LU TV, 12 Documentary Films, Comedy (an Adv. Art History class), and a new class called Cinema for Social Change.
- Other Stuff
Our partnership with Berklee remains strong, and we’ll be working with their students again for soundtracks and projects.
We’re looking to add new faculty, so you may see a new face or two among the faculty group. More info on that when we can share it.
Partnerships remain strong with Rule Boston Camera, Talamus, Somerville Media Center and Women In Film & Video. We’ve added the Loop Lab as a partner too! This means lots of great internship opportunities, community events, career opportunities and more! As things re-open, we’ll be leveraging these partnerships to expand your Film experience beyond Lunder!
We’ll be using a distance-learning model for fall, with access to Lunder studios and Lockup as safety guidelines allow. Sophomores will see a schedule change related to Cinematography, and students in Experimental Filmmaking will need to find a replacement course. Otherwise, we’re going ahead with the Film program as planned, helping you make amazing films, tell awesome stories and bring your vision to life.