You'd think there would be no grades in film school -- you were wrong! We are graded on how well we survive the semester...or, at least, that's how it should be.
Our intense production course, 508, was a 6 credit course (most classes are worth 2 credits). We are graded on attendance, participation, and our production notebooks -- both directing and producing.
As a producer at USC, you are very much following the industry rules. With our Producer Notebooks, we are proving that we got the right forms for each shooting location and got the proper crew-agreements signed.
Our directing notebook shows we went through the thought process to accurately portray our vision on paper. For example, I used clips from old movies to show my Director of Photography how I wanted the black & white to look. I also found various pictures online that resembled shots in my head. This is a great way to show your crew exactly what you're thinking. If they understand, then everyone will work together toward the same vision. Below are two photos I used to describe our two shooting locations.
We had two other classes required of us this semester besides our main production class. 529 - "Script Writing" and 509 - "Sound & Editing."
529 helped us further develop story ideas in hopes of writing 12 minute scripts and then feature length scripts. Ideally, we would all graduate with at least one feature length script under our belts. My professor was incredibly helpful and lenient on us because of our busy 508 semester. We all received good grades!
Our 509 class, on the other hand, was not as understanding. The class was held Friday mornings from 9am - 12pm. Keep in mind, Fridays were our only days to go pick up equipment for the weekend of shooting. We are in class all week and filming all weekend; so Fridays were very hard, knowing we had a 30-hour work weekend coming up! To make matters more frustrating, the class was attendance based and the teacher's assistant often forgot to pass around an attendance sheet. So not only did we have the added stress of rushing after class to pick up equipment, we also had to stay after class to make sure the professor knew we were there! Just when we thought the stress of that class was over, our professor decided to give us a final. Apparently too many people were skipping the class, so we were given an open book exam at the end of the year. What was once a class graded on attendance, became an exam-graded class. The exam was difficult and a lot of us who attended the class regularly saw our grades go down. A very upsetting way to end an already stressful semester!
I received great grades over all which is what you need in order to be eligible for scholarships at USC. Yippee!
Next semester will be another production heavy course for me. I will be doing "sound" on a 546 (3rd level production course) as well as learning 3D filmmaking and taking intermediate directing. I believe this is the first 3D filmmaking class offered by the school so it should be a really interesting learning experience.
Here's a link to more information about the 3D program at USC.
I'll definitely blog about it!