Film and Media – Department of Visual Arts

Sarah Friedland's documentary class works on their films in the Main Hall lab.

Housed in the Visual Arts Department, the Film and Media major introduces students to artistic and academic approaches to film and media, while exposing them to filmmaking and related industries in New York City and further afield. Courses provide students with the tools to make their own films, analyze films from aesthetic, political, social, and historical perspectives, and employ their skills through creative production, industry, and civic engagement. Designed to be interdisciplinary, the Film and Media program emphasizes film as an artistic and creative process pursued by trained professionals.

The major culminates in a yearlong Senior Learning Community (LC) that accompanies the student’s production of a short film or similar project and consists of the Capstone Course in Film and Media (FM 490) and a Reflective Tutorial: Senior Film and Media Project (400).

Location, Facilities and Equipment

The Film and Media program is housed on the top floor of the college’s historic centerpiece Main Hall in two dedicated classrooms, a separate editing/post-production suite, and equipment room.

Students edit their films on 17 dedicated iMac workstations using professional grade software. They also have access to professional high definition (HD) and 4K digital video cameras, an array of sound recorders and microphones, production equipment including gimbals, shoulder mounts, follow focus, dollies, lighting kits, and more specialized gear such as GoPro and drone cameras. Equipment is regularly updated, and students have access to both the equipment room and editing facilities on a daily basis during the week, and, in the case of the editing stations, over the weekend during the semester. Additionally, a recently renovated editing/post-production suite is available for the use of senior film majors working on their thesis films and, on occasion, advanced non-senior majors or minors.

Screenings and Events

The Film and Media program regularly hosts special guest speakers from the film community. Recent visitors have included Charles Burnett, the director of the 1978 masterpiece, “Killer of Sheep;” renowned film theorist and critic Annette Insdorf; and eminent Hollywood producer and Wagner alumnus Michael Tadross (“Die Hard 3,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “Hitch,” “Ocean’s 8”).

The program also supports three annual screening events. In the fall, the Film and Media program puts on the Wagner International Film Festival (WIFF). The WIFF’s recent editions have featured acclaimed recent films from France, Egypt, Canada, Argentina, Thailand and Brazil (among others), with filmmakers Matías Piñeiro (“Viola”), Anocha Suwichakornpong (“By the Time it Gets Dark”), Fellipe Barbosa (“Gabriel and the Mountain”), Nele Wohlatz (“El futuro perfecto”) and Lucio Castro (“End of the Century”) appearing in person or remotely to discuss their work with students and community members.

In the spring, the Wagner College Film Society sponsors a student-run film festival, and the Film and Media program hosts the annual Senior Showcase, where graduating students screen their work for friends, colleagues, family and community members. Additionally, introductory level filmmaking classes regularly culminate in joint end-of-semester screenings that are open to the Wagner community.

To view the online-only edition of the Spring 2020 Senior Showcase, click here or on the image below.

Program Requirements

Core I Requirements – 4 units

  • FM 101 Introduction to Filmmaking* 
  • FM 201 Introduction to Film Studies, or FM 223 Introduction to Media Studies, or EN 230 Introduction to Film
  • FM 250 Navigating the Film Industry
  • FM 260 History of Film

*FM 101 is a new course taught for the first time in Fall 2022. Students who have previously taken FM 210 Intro to Fiction Filmmaking or FM 222 Intro to Documentary Filmmaking before Fall 2022 are exempt from taking FM 101 and are similarly allowed to register for any course for which FM 101 is now a prerequisite. Students who have not taken FM 210 or FM 222 before Fall 2022 must take FM 101 as part of their Core I Requirements and as a prerequisite for Core II Requirements and any Production Electives.

Core II Requirements – 2 units (FM 101 is prerequisite for all below classes) 

  • FM 221 Video Editing 
  • FM 224 Cinematography 

Elective Requirements – 4 units (at least two must be FM courses):

Production Electives (FM 101 is prerequisite for all below classes) – 

  • FM 255 Directing Actors for Film/ TH 255 Acting for the Camera (taught as 1-unit ILC)
  • FM 330 New Modes in Documentary Film 
  • FM 340 Fiction Filmmaking Workshop 

Other FM Electives

  • FM 322 Screenwriting I
  • FM 422 Screenwriting II 
  • FM 201 Introduction to Film Studies
  • FM 223 Introduction to Media Studies
  • FM 291 Special Topics (e.g. TV Theory, Hollywood and US Film, Women in Hollywood, Digital Animation, Writing for TV)

Non-FM Electives

  • AR 114 Photography I
  • AR 130 Digital Photography 
  • FR 356 French Cinema: Retrogrades, Rebels, and Realists
  • GOV 375 Feminist Film
  • HI 286 On the Screen: Gender, Class, and Culture in Film
  • ML 316 International Filmmakers
  • MU 246 Music in Film
  • SA 207 Sports Communication
  • SP 230 Intimate Stories: The Short Film Genre  
  • SP 314 Topics in Hispanic Cinema
  • TH 103 Script Analysis 
  • TH 106 Introduction to Acting
  • TH 240 Stage Makeup

Core Requirements – 2 units:

  • FM 101 Introduction to Filmmaking*
  • FM 201 Introduction to Film Studies, or FM 223 Introduction to Media Studies, or EN 230 Introduction to Film, or FM 260 History of Film

*FM 101 is a new course taught for the first time in Fall 2022. Students who have previously taken FM 210 Intro to Fiction Filmmaking or FM 222 Intro to Documentary Filmmaking before Fall 2022 are exempt from taking FM 101 and are similarly allowed to register for any course for which FM 101 is now a prerequisite. Students who have not taken FM 210 or FM 222 before Fall 2022 must take FM 101 as part of their Core Requirements and as a prerequisite for Production Electives.

Elective Requirements – 3 units (at least 2 must be FM courses):

Production Electives (FM 101 is prerequisite for all below classes) – 

  • FM 221 Video Editing 
  • FM 224 Cinematography
  • FM 255 Directing Actors for Film/ TH 255 Acting for the Camera (taught as 1-unit ILC)
  • FM 330 New Modes in Documentary Film
  • FM 340 Fiction Filmmaking Workshop 

Other FM Electives

  • FM 201 Introduction to Film Studies
  • FM 223 Introduction to Media Studies
  • FM 250 Navigating the Film Industry
  • FM 322 Screenwriting I
  • FM 422 Screenwriting II 
  • FM 201 Introduction to Film Studies
  • FM 223 Introduction to Media Studies
  • FM 291 Special Topics (e.g. TV Theory, Hollywood and US Film, Women in Hollywood, Digital Animation, Writing for TV)

Non-FM Electives (only 1 of the below courses may count towards the Minor)

  • AR 114 Photography I
  • AR 130 Digital Photography 
  • FR 356 French Cinema: Retrogrades, Rebels, and Realists
  • GO 375 Feminist Film
  • HI 286 On the Screen: Gender, Class, and Culture in Film
  • ML 316 International Filmmakers
  • MU 246 Music in Film
  • SA 207 Sports Communication
  • SP 230 Intimate Stories: The Short Film Genre  
  • SP 314 Topics in Hispanic Cinema
  • TH 103 Script Analysis 
  • TH 106 Introduction to Acting
  • TH 240 Stage Makeup

Course Descriptions

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of filmmaking and digital video production. Students will receive training on camera and sound equipment and editing software, learn about the basics of documentary and fiction filmmaking, and develop their skills by directing a series of scenes and exercises.

This course instructs students in the terminology of film analysis, including a breakdown of film style– genre, mise-en-scène cinematography, sound, and editing. Students will analyze films from a variety of periods and countries, and will apply this understanding through creative projects, analytical essays and journalistic writing. This course will focus on the artistry and history of the medium, as well as the social and political concepts that are illuminated by a thorough analysis of a film.

“The film is made in the editing room” said the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. During this class you will understand the cerebral, organizational, technical, and creative work that goes into editing a film. It will provide you with an introduction to history of moving image editing, as well as with a set of technical and intellectual skills. You will work with pre-shot as well as found or archival footage to edit in various styles including documentary, narrative, and experimental.

This course introduces students to the history and analysis of different forms of media including, radio, television, video games and the Internet. Students will gain an understanding of why media is so pervasive in society and how to properly read and decode it. They will also analyze the artistry and technique of media production –– from radio plays of the 1920s to present day interactive media art.

Searching for moving image’s meaning, deciphering the practical “how” that meaning is produced and theoretical “why” certain choices are made.

This course will present a broad overview of the film and television industry, designed primarily for those interested in pursuing careers in film, but open to all. Topics will include financing, budgeting, scheduling, film festivals, sales, distribution, marketing, and more. Special attention will be paid to independent filmmaking. Guest speakers will provide working professionals’ perspectives on different aspects of the business.

Students will learn how to direct actors for film and television. This will involve a survey of basic acting techniques, from script analysis to rehearsal to building a character and more; considerations of how to collaborate fruitfully with actors; an examination of how performances are shaped for the camera and how editing shapes performances in the finished film; and the supplemental study of various films, clips, and readings. Students will act in scenes themselves, in order to understand the acting process from the inside, and will also direct scenes on camera with other students as actors. Prerequisite: FM101 or permission of instructor.

This course is a survey of film history from its beginnings in the 1890s to the present day. We’ll study a wide range of important films, creators, and movements from around the world, and we’ll look at some influential schools of thought in film criticism and film theory. Our primary focus will be on the evolution of cinema as an art form, but we’ll also take into account technological developments, economic/industrial factors, and questions of culture/politics/ideology.

“If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.” – Stanley Kubrick

Throughout this course you will learn the foundational elements of a successful screenplay: character development, narrative structure, and of course, proper formatting. Through careful study of professional screenplays, you will analyze and learn to recognize positive strategies and unique styles. In addition, you will also write your own original short screenplays and workshop the work of your fellow classmates. By semester’s end, you should feel confident to follow the words of prolific director/writer Stanley Kubrick as noted above — and begin to understand how writing for the screen has infinite possibilities, and equally unique challenges.

This course introduces students to the wide panorama of contemporary documentary film theory and practice, with an emphasis on new technologies and hybrid forms. Students will receive hands-on experience in cutting-edge documentary production practices including use of GoPro cameras, drone/webcam technology and the making of interactive narratives, as they are exposed to relevant films, filmmakers, artists and thinkers. Prerequisite: Introduction to Filmmaking (FM101) or permission of instructor.

This intermediate-level class is for students who want to explore narrative filmmaking more deeply. Students will direct a series of projects culminating in a three- to five-minute short film. The emphasis of the class will be on making personally expressive and technically polished work on a tight timeline. We’ll also cover topics such as script analysis, casting and rehearsing, staging and camera techniques, and more, via a combination of lectures, discussions, and analysis of scenes and short films. Prerequisite: Introduction to Filmmaking (FM101) or permission of instructor.

This course offers the senior major the opportunity to embark on a film and media project aligned with their interests, in most cases a short film. The project will be determined during the Capstone Course in the prior semester, in conjunction with their advisor and the course instructor. Students will work independently on their project, attend regular class meetings, and assist their fellow senior majors in the completion of their own projects.

This intermediate-level class is for students who want to explore more deeply into the art and
craft of screenwriting. Students will continue the feature-length scripts they began in
Screenwriting I, or will begin an entirely new project. The class will primarily be a writing
workshop in which students will present their work for critique and discussion; there will also be
lectures on topics such as story structure and scene structure, outlining, character, dialogue, the
business of screenwriting, and more. Prerequisite: Screenwriting I (FM322) or permission of
instructor.

This course provides an advanced overview of some major currents in film theory, while simultaneously preparing students to begin work on their senior thesis projects, which will be completed during the spring Senior Reflective Tutorial (FM 400).

This course will cover the history of Hollywood, from its early inception to present day. This course will examine the Hollywood industry — marking important turning points and innovations that transformed the relationship between Hollywood and its adoring public. Additionally, this course will dive into the most controversial political and cultural transitions (namely censorship, post war realities, and exploitation films) that rocked the industry and changed public perception of what defines “Hollywood.” This course will also explore narrative design, genre and style, as well as an in-depth study of some of Hollywood’s most beloved practitioners including stars, producers, and directors, both inside and outside of the mainstream.

Television has been described as all of these things, and yet, it persists as one of America’s most valued, most discussed, most topical, and most relevant cultural products. This course sets out to debunk the negative stereotypes of television by investigating the polysemy (many meanings) of television, uncovering the limitless potential of the medium. Through a study of the aesthetics of television’s form, complexity of its narrative structure, numerous cultural effects (nostalgia, feminism, socio-economic class), and television’s common genres, this course will look at the medium of television as a meaningful cultural product – a representation of America from the earliest network beginnings to the current post-broadcast era. Students will analyze and unpack television shows as a critical touchstone of American culture, while also delving into close textual analysis as a means to foster discussion.

Women and Hollywood examines the role of women, both on screen and behind the scenes. Presented as a non-chronological survey course, week to week, students will explore noteworthy directors, screenwriters, actors, editors, producers, hyphenates, studio executives, and critics — covering both film and television. Additionally, students will examine exactly how women appear on screen, exploring the earliest representations in 1920s Hollywood to the Bechdel test to intersectionality and trans representation today. A sample of the Hollywood figures to be explored includes Alice Guy-Blaché, Louise Brooks, Dorothy Arzner, Louella Parsons, Bette Davis, Elaine May, Polly Platt, Barbra Streisand, Mary Tyler Moore, Oprah Winfrey, Nora Ephron, Pauline Kael, Thelma Schoonmaker, Mira Nair, Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Laverne Cox, and many more.

In this interdisciplinary single-unit ILC, students will gain exposure to ethnographic film as a key component of visual anthropology and documentary filmmaking. Ethnographic filmmaking has been a way for practicing social scientists to push the boundaries of their own research while challenging central disciplinary assumptions about representation and “otherness.” Ethnographic films have also made vital contributions to the development of documentary film during the past century, and, more recently, have served as a source of inspiration for contemporary artists. Students will watch and discuss important historic and contemporary ethnographic films, interact virtually with film directors/social scientists, and complete readings relevant to visual anthropology, ethnographic and documentary film, visual studies, and sound studies.

This class uses Adobe After Effects as a tool to achieve the students’ individual artistic goals while providing an overview of different animation concepts and techniques. The class will cover the history of this illustrious medium. Starting with the basics, the course introduces key framing techniques, live-action compositing and working with green screen, animating still photographs (with work in Photoshop), puppet animation and time manipulation. The first half of the semester will contain homework assignments that allow students to grasp individual components of this highly technical toolset, while in the second half, the students concentrate on an individualized final project based on their specific areas of interest. This class is recommended for film majors, art majors and anyone interested in the limitless possibilities of the animated film.

Contact

For further information regarding the Film and Media program, please contact one of its co-directors, Prof. Philip Cartelli ([email protected]) or Prof. Nelson Kim ([email protected])