4-Week Filmmaking Program

Smaschut’s curriculum provides a comprehensive understanding of the entire filmmaking process. Designed by film educators and industry professionals, our curriculum will inspire and expose you to key concepts, aesthetics, techniques, and a wide range of films and filmmakers.
Intro to Filmmaking Program
Introduction to Screenwriting
The first steps -- writing the movie before it’s a movie
Concept and Theme
Start at the beginning -- thinking of your film in its acorn phase, and what it might mean thematically, as we examine the conceptual core of some of the greatest, and most original, films ever made.
Story Structure
You have an idea, a feeling, an image -- how to transform it into a full-length narrative, and end up with a story that fulfills your original inspiration? Here are the basics of what story structure is and why it matters.
Character, Dialogue and Voice
Here we look at how to give your film a life and voice of its own, and how to make your characters live in three dimensions, by way of cinema history’s most unforgettable personas.
Nonlinear Approaches and Experiments in Form
There are rules about making movie stories -- and rules are made to be broken. Here we take the license to go off the grid, and look at a myriad ways that filmmakers have transgressed the orthodox.
Outlines and Treatments
The basic principles and strategies of how to plan your story, whether in forms meant just to help your writing or to help you pitch your film to readers. The first and maybe most important steps.
Plot, Set-Up and Conflict
How to think up your story -- what happens, and why? What changes? What decisions do the characters have to make, and what are the consequences?
The ABCs of how screenplays are spaced on the page, how text pacing equals movie time, how to cue actors, and how to handle all kinds of storytelling questions.
Shorts vs. Features
A short film is not necessarily a mini-feature -- in fact, it’s an untamed frontier, with almost no structural rules or narrative guidelines at all. Here’s what happens when you follow the orthodox storytelling rules, and when you don’t.
Introduction to Cinematography
Understanding how to get the images you want -- and how to think of your movie as a visual story
The Moving Camera
Looking at the rich legacy of camera movement through more than a century of filmmaking -- and how movement communicates to us, from quick pans to complex tracking shots that tell a whole story.
Composition and Depth
Where things are arranged in a shot, and how deeply, and why -- here we take a plunge into the expressive possibilities of shot composition, and visit some of the most memorable compositional achievements in movie history.
Light and Shadow
The basic DNA of movies is light and darkness, and filmmakers have always exploited their beauty and atmospherics to create new movie experiences, from the silent German Expressionists to
Making imagery look evocatively real is as much a style as making it look dreamlike and fantastic -- and the tradition stretches from silent film to the Italian Neo-Realists to today’s digital revolution.
Design and Color
There’s virtually no limit to how a film can be designed, and how it can use color, and here we explore some of the most vivid traditions and styles, evoking inner states, metaphoric ideas, and filmmakers’ views of the world.
Cinematic Language + Lenses, Focus
A primer on the nuts and bolts of shot type, cinematographic lingo and procedural terminology, just enough to get you started. Plus, you get to know the frontline tool of all cinematography, the lens -- different types and what they can do, how they create depth of field, and how they shape the image.
Light - Practical
Lighting a shot is not as simple as you think, but here we explore the easy-to-learn core ideas and lighting schemes that are at the heart of every beautifully lit image.
The first steps toward understanding how camera moves are achieved, what equipment is available, and, most of all, what kind of impact each movement has on your audience.
The recipe ingredient list for great shots begins, from evergreen traditions of image-making that go back to ancient times, to how to best use weight and space to conjure three dimensions on a 2D screen.
With today’s cameras, it’s part of the cinematographer’s arsenal and responsibility: learning about microphones, pass filters, booming, ambient sound, and how to fix both echo chambers and dead zones.
Introduction to Directing
Leading the charge, organizing your vision, and calling the shots
Vision and Sensibility
Here we approach the big picture: what’s your movie really about, and how will it express your unique way of looking at the world? How have great directors crafted their particular universes, and brought us along with them?
Translating Script Pages into Scenes
A character, a location, a bit of business, described in sentences -- it’s a process of discovery, figuring out how to create a powerful film scene out of what’s written on the script page.
Actors: Faces, Eyes, Words and Bodies
The director is responsible for what the actors do and how they are captured on film. It can be just as creative as lighting or composition: coordinating their physical movements, coaching their readings, and shaping their presences as emotional beings.
Storyboarding & Preproduction
The basic ideas behind of this helpful craft, and how it helps you think through your choices on the set, and deliver your ideas to your crew. Plus, the toolbox intro to what you need to think about before the shoot begins, in order to make it go smoothly and productively.
Working with Cinematographer & Crew
Communicating with your DP is key to your film coming out the way you want. Here we offer suggestions on how to bridge the gap between the technical and the emotional.
Coverage and Sequencing
Experienced directors shoot with an eye toward the editing room, by making sure they have multiple alternatives at almost every cut. Here we outline how to weigh getting enough coverage against the limits of your shooting schedule.
Introduction to Editing
The last creative phase: putting your puzzle together
Action, Dialectics and Space
Editing the action scene: how to make the action snap, insure that the spatial relations are clear, and give the rush of images a startling urgency.
Pacing and Feeling
How a film is edited will dictate how it affects an audience -- nervously, calmly, sadly, buoyantly, like a ruminative dream or like an adrenaline jag. It all depends on the intention of the film.
Using Sound Expressively
The editor is ultimately responsible for the soundtrack -- and that includes a lot more creativity and nuance than simply using the sound recorded on set. We’ll watch, and listen, to some of movies’ most inspired audio achievements.
Basic Editing in Adobe Premier
A brisk tutorial in using the editing software, from importing to basic cutting to audio.
Sequencing & Transitions
The art of sequencing; crafting the pace between establishing shots, medium shots, and various close-ups, in a way that feels fluid and organic. We also examine the variety of transitions available to you, and the each mean something different: hard cuts, dissolves, fades, wipes, match cuts, etc.
Post Effects and Color
The look of a film can be radically influenced and altered in post-production -- shadows, color, tone, grain, focus, all of it can be manipulated for effect.