St. Louis Community College at Meramec

Communications Department


Dr. Diane Carson
MCM:218.100 Advanced Filmmaking
Spring--Thursdays 7:00-10:00 p.m.
Office: CS112 Phone: 314-984-7532

Welcome to the second semester of filmmaking! The purpose of this course is twofold: to develop your skill at super-8 and 16-mm film production and digital video capture and editing by increasing your ability to use the media better both technically and creatively.

Building on your Filmmaking I knowledge, we will work to increase your expertise in shooting properly exposed and imaginatively composed images. We will work on storyboarding, production techniques, composition aesthetics, lighting, editing, sound mixes, and digital non-linear editing. We will move from super-8 to 16-mm film production, with options of editing on the Steenbeck flatbed and/or AVID nonlinear video editing. If you apply yourself, you should learn to:

1. Effectively script, storyboard, produce, direct, edit and exhibit wild sound super-8 and 16-mm films.

2. Use the features of our super-8 silent and sound cameras, choosing wisely among several options, including fades in and out, variable speeds, single frame exposure, and various camera moves from panning and tilting to tracking and zooming.

3. Use our 16-mm cameras. This will include learning to use our Sekonic light meters and our Steenbeck editor, an 8-plate, flatbed film editor.

4. Load, use and understand a variety of super-8 projectors and our Bell and Howell 16-mm projectors.

5. Use the 4-track TASCAM recorder/mixer to produce effective sound mixes.

6. Use the Canon XL-1 digital video camera, including its diverse array of recording features.

7. Edit effectively on our AVID Xpress Pro HD (digital nonlinear video editing) stations.

8. Analyze your own and other students' films.

This class should be very enjoyable, but it is a college-level course that demands that you be conscientious in fulfilling all the requirements. Each project must be completed on time in order for you to receive a passing grade.

EVALUATION CATEGORIES: You are expected to attend every class. Since we meet only once a week and because this is a demonstration, discussion and production class, your attendance is extremely important. Your absences will affect your grade and your progress. If you miss more than TWO meetings, you are excessively absent and can not receive ABOVE a C for this course. If you miss more than THREE classes, you can not receive ABOVE a D. Your own and your fellow students' progress depends upon your involvement in ALL our discussions and analysis.

Class begins promptly. Lateness will count against you.

NOTE: There are no excused absences. If you miss class, you are responsible for any change in assignments. CALL OR SEE ME BEFORE OUR NEXT CLASS.

The W Grade: A grade of W (withdrawal) will be issued if you complete the course withdrawal procedure by Week 12.  If you do not withdraw by then and do not complete your course work, you will receive an F for the course.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is a serious academic offense. A student who deliberately or unintentionally submits as his or her own work anything which is in any part taken from another person without proper acknowledgement (use of quotation marks, inclusion in the credits, etc.) is guilty of plagiarism. A student guilty of submitting plagiarized material for this course will be dismissed from the course, given an F as the final course grade, and reported to the appropriate deans for disciplinary action.

2. TESTS: We will have one test this semester at mid-term. It will cover the text, any handouts, lectures, our equipment, films and discussions. It will count for 20% of your final grade.

3. CLASS PREPARATION AND PARTICIPATION: You are expected to complete all assigned films by the dates listed. This entails considerable preplanning. Remember that you must factor in processing time. In addition, you must calculate your own editing time. Plan ahead! You will be evaluated on your ability to meet deadlines as you will be in any film work you do. Late films will lose one grade.

We will screen and analyze all your films in class, so you have a serious responsibility to each other. You must be involved in discussions because you can learn a great deal from each other. I expect you to be attentive and polite. Class participation and preparation count for 10% of your final grade.

EQUIPMENT: Cameras and tripods as well as all necessary editing and projecting equipment are provided. You must supply your own film and processing.

You may check equipment out any Thursday immediately before or after class or during my office hours during the week. Equipment is ALWAYS due back at the latest the next class. Because I am also teaching a Filmmaking I course, we will be using our super-8 sound cameras instead of the silent, super-8 Kinoflex cameras. Factor in some time to become familiar with these different super-8 cameras.

So that the cameras may circulate as much as possible, you must be conscientious about returning them on time. If you return equipment late, you will lose points on your final grade because this is an important part of your production scheduling and your efficient use of time and equipment. Know, however, that we may not always have the exact camera you want since we have several different kinds of super-8 sound cameras and a limited number of each.

Plan your shooting schedule carefully so we may get the most use from our limited supplies.

FILMMAKING PROJECTS: The major portion (70%) of your final grade will be determined by your films. In the course of performing them, you will acquire a considerable degree of technical knowledge and mechanical expertise. However, you must also master the imaginative, creative aspects of filmmaking.

PRODUCTION JOURNAL: A production journal should be kept for ALL your film work. This journal includes storyboards, lighting diagrams, camera placement (distance and angle), type of film, f stops, film speed, any filters, etc. It is very important to keep a detailed, accurate record in order to evaluate successes and mistakes once you have your developed footage. Turn in your production journal with every film.


PROJECT I: Improving Your Film Production

The first exercise is designed to enhance a film you have already worked on. It should improve your basic camera usage, editing, sound mix and design, and analysis. As always, divide your revision into three parts. Go back and look at the process you've experienced and evaluate your film thinking about:

1. Preproduction: treatment, script, storyboard and shooting script.

2. Production: exposure of film with complete production information: lighting, camera angle and distance, running time for each shot, composition, f stops, etc.

3. Postproduction: editing, sound design and mix, exhibition, and analysis.

You may use a film you have already worked on. You might shoot some new footage, reedit it, redesign the sound mix, or improve it in any way you choose.

Your first film may also be a brand new film, if you so choose. It may be on any approved topic, narrative or nonnarrative, live action or animated, color or black and white. It will be accompanied by wild sound.

This film will be a collaborative effort with a sound mix, post-dubbed and/or synchronous sound, edited at least in part on the AVID. We'll set up groups for this project immediately. Each person in the group will be responsible for writing one scene, for directing another, for working as cinematographer on a third, and for editing a scene.


This will be an independent or group film, your choice. It must be approved via storyboards. You may choose to shoot super-8 or 16 mm film, accompany it with wild sound, post-dub, shoot single system sound, or some combination of the above. We'll talk about the different challenges of each choice.

Feel free to discuss your projects with me before or after class or during any office hours. It's always better to ask than to guess.

Course Materials:

Film Editing

Film Exposure Project