May 9, 2014

Set of Six / Visual Narrative Short Films


This spring, UMD Acting for the Camera students and Visual Narratives filmmakers collaborated to create short video projects, each integrating a glass from this set. Scenerios were brainstormed, locations scouted, characters invented, scripts developed. Six teams went into production, shooting 6 different scripts, each featuring at least 2 actors in speaking roles. Each story varied in choice of setting, character conflicts, mood and genre. Each filmmaker edited a unique cut of their project. Music students created original compositions used in sound tracks for many of these shorts. Duluth locations included the Glensheen Mansion, the Duluth Depot, and the Tweed Museum of Art.

Links to the SET of SIX shorts on Vimeo can be posted here:

FINAL REFLECTION / Visual Narratives Project

Please reflect on your final edit, print this + bring to final exam

NEXT WEDNESDAY at 2pm in Montague 80

FINAL REFLECTION / Visual Narratives Project...

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April 22, 2014

Open Studios / Events on Sat April 26


2pm Sunday / Magic Smelt Parade in Canal Park

Don't Miss this... It's the best parade of the spring season:

April 15, 2014

Digital Filmmaking: Production REFLECTION

Post this info for your Reflection on the Team Process

Your Name:
Project Title:
Collaborators and their roles:

Describe your own pre-production activities and tasks: (such as:
writing, sketching, storyboarding, character design, prop /costume
research, location scouting, test shooting, etc)

Part 2 : ON THE SET
Briefly describe each day of shooting.
What jobs did you do, what went well.
What equipment did you use? What shot choices did you make?
How did you light each shoot? How did you capture sound?
What challenges came up and how did you meet them?
How was the experience directing and working with actors?
How did you respond to unforeseen variables?

February 20, 2014

Exercise 3: Creativity in Motion

Exercise 3: Creativity in Motion
With an artist and creative process as your subject, shoot a montage portrait of an artist at work, use a variety of shots and camera movements. Light deliberately. Edit to 30-60 seconds with simple sound or music.

Post Link to Project on Vimeo by Tuesday after Spring Break
Include in your blog post:

Title: Full Name of Artist who is subject of your video

Video by : Your Full Name

Any other credits (music or sound)

Student Examples (2013):

Also: View The Playlist, local public television spots on artists

GO SEE OSCAR Nominated Shorts at Zinema!

Playing at Zinema this weekend!

Extra Credit to anyone who attends and posts to the blog...

February 7, 2014

Prep Your Pitch

On Thursday Feb 20 we will meet again to hear the pitches in MPAC 155.
Feel free to meet with other students to develop your idea, or work independently on an idea to pitch that day. Post ideas to the Brainstorm page on the blog. Run your ideas by Tom and Joellyn if you want feedback.

Each student (or story team) will have 5 minutes to pitch an idea for a collaborative short film to the class. Prepare an enthusiastic and engaging presentation of an idea for a film you would like to work on. Follow the checklist of points to cover in your pitch. Please keep your pitch under 5 minutes. Your pitch must offer an idea that is realistic within the timeline, technical tools, and financial limitations of our class. Each story idea must integrate the GLASS as a visual element into the film. Stories may also integrate Glensheen as a shoot location. Films can be shot in multiple locations, but be realistic about the time it takes to plan and shoot. Each film idea must have clear roles for 2 or 3 actors, offering them a chance to bring their character to life through closeups, actions and emotions that fit your story. Scripts will be developed and refined to include speaking lines for each of the actors.

Make sure you include this info in your Pitch.









VISUAL PLAN: (optional, bring printed images of locations to support your pitch)


SCHEDULING ISSUES times of day you prefer to shoot:

Suggested / Pitch Checklist

Teaser Pitch
Story Pitch
Optional Visual Plan (5 - 10 images to show during your pitch)
Outline or Script (optional)

1. Teaser Pitch starts off with the hook of the story. You have to sum up the storyline of your idea in around 25 words or less. In the teaser pitch, the first sentence introduces the characters, the next sentence illustrates their conflict, and the final sentence can allude to the genre or visual style and leaves listeners wanting more.

2. Story Pitch is much longer than the teaser pitch, but still try to keep it short. The story pitch starts with your hook and then you run down the rest of the story. Be sure to articulate those crucial elements ... the heroes, their goals, the conflict, what's at risk and why they're fighting to save it, any pivotal events or emotional turning points, and the conclusion. Your story pitch for your short film idea can be less than 200 words.
Keep it simple.

3. OPTIONAL: Visual Plan is where you give us a sense of your cinematic storytelling sensibility. Show us some images (image stills, location shots, storyboards, color swatches, etc). You can show a few images from existing films as examples, but you must also show us some original images. This is where you need to express your aesthetic choices and the overall visual style of the proposed project. Bring prints to share during your pitch.

4. Script (also Optional at this time) Prepare an outline of the plot or key shots that will makeup the short film. The film can be very visual, but it must also include dialog. An outline of the main action and key shots is all that is needed for this short pitch. A more complete shotlist and / or screen play will be generated if your idea gets selected. Don't plan to read a script during the pitch, simply
outline the key moments in the plot.

Students will vote on their favorite ideas after all the pitches.
We will do our best to select an interesting range of projects to go into script development and production.
Tom will have final say on casting. Joellyn will have final say on film crews.
Teams will include about 3 filmmaking students and 2 acting students for each project.

February 6, 2014

Exercise 2: Capturing the Light

Exercise 2: Capturing the Light
Using only easily available light sources or natural light to illuminate your subject, create a simple narrative using a variety of visual strategies to capture and exploit the light. What low-budget light sources can you test? Light through window at various times of day, simple table lamps, candle light, flash lights, car headlights, fire light... See what your camera is capable of capturing. Make sure you have at least one person and one object in your scene.

Suggested location: a place you want to shoot at later this semester. Try to use a variety of shot types, as in previous exercise. You must use a tripod for at least half of your shots. At least half of your shots should keep the camera still. Work on focus, and be deliberate about what is in focus in each shot. Don't use any zooming motion. When using motion, limit use of hand held camerawork. If you have a fluid head tripod, use it for smooth pans!

Edit to 15-30 seconds / optional simple sound. Sound must be copyright free or cleared.

Exercise #2 Capturing the Light ....
Should be posted to Vimeo and the link posted here by

Please show rough clips / in process next week.

We will view this film :

Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography

Continue reading "Exercise 2: Capturing the Light" »

February 4, 2014


Notes from Class Brainstorm today:


Working Title: Matched Set

In this collaboration, Acting for the Camera Students will propose characters and Visual Narratives students will propose locations and visual moods. Students will work together to create stories and short scripts that integrate: glassware object, Glensheen Mansion, Duluth settings. Scenerios will be brainstormed and developed. 5 teams will shoot 5 different scripts, each featuring at least 2 actors in speaking roles. Each storyline can vary in time period and core conflict, but must integrate the glassware object.


Filmmaking students have been scouting locations around Duluth. See 2 pages of images here...

Locations / Scenerios that you may want to expand into a short film project. What location are you most interested in? What era? What time of day? How might this location connect to Glensheen mansion storyline?

What film genre inspires you most? What conflicts or human interactions would be at the heart of the story? What mood or visual look are you interested in creating? How might you integrate the antique glassware object?

What characters would you like to develop? How might you interact with the glass object? What conflicts or motivations would most engage your character? How might your character change over the arc of a short narrative? What era or setting most appeals to you?

January 23, 2014

Blog Assignment #2: 5 Short Films

What makes a good short film? What types of stories and characters can be captured in this short format?

Please view at least 5 Short Films over the next week and take notes using the format below. Find quality short films... like Oscar Nominated Shorts, and other award winning short films. View others you find on the web. Be selective. Join Vimeo to help you start a list of your favorites. If possible, find works that relate somehow to your own creative work, as inspiration for a technique or look you hope to achieve. Try to use films that are longer than one minute and shorter than 15 minutes (though the definition of a short film may vary).

Make notes on your favorite shorts, type your reflection and post to the blog once you have viewed 5 shorts. Your blog must note all of this info for each film (some of this info can be found online and pasted into your reflection):

Run time:
Link to the film : (URL of website, dvd, tv or movie theatre)
Story Synopsis:
Visual strengths:
Use of Light / Color:
Digital techniques:
Use of Sound / Music:

See links to Short films...

January 21, 2014

Emerging Photographers Exhibit

Come out and support UMD photo students
Opening Thursday January 23, 5 - 7 PM

Emerging Photographers
Featuring Work from UMD's Photography Department
Sponsored by Jen Dietrich & Lew Connor
Corridor Gallery
January 23 - March 27, 2014
Gallery Celebration: January 23, 5 - 7 PM
Gallery Discussion: March 27, 5:30 PM

The Duluth Art Institute's annual Emerging Photographers show is a showcase for the amazing talents coming out of the University of Minnesota Duluth's Photography department. This year's participants are Sara Hughes, Daniel Badhwa, Lauren Budge, Jordan Hoeft, Dane Pedersen, Steve Pestalozzi, and Marissa Murdy. These seven students work in mediums as diverse as anthotypes and cyanotypes, black and white and color, applying their chosen medium to a diversity of subject matter is well worth a viewing.

Project Imagination / a model for collaboration

Project Imaginat10n launched with a photo contest, inviting the masses to interpret 10 storytelling themes through photography. After receiving tens of thousands of submissions, the 91 winning photos were announced. Then, the 5 Celebrity Directors and 5 Film Contest Winners each chose 10 photographs, one from each theme, to inspire their films. Watch them all here...

Exercise # 1 : Composition, Shots, Angles

Exercise 1: Composition, Shots and Angles
Edit to 10-15 seconds / no sound.
We will work on this Thursday Jan 30 in class
DUE Tuesday Feb 6

With a simple object, person or PLACE as your subject, test camera composition strategies. Assemble a very short montage using shot list to include at least 10 different shot types and camera angles.
(see examples )

EXPLORE A SENSE OF PLACE / Use this project to explore a location that you are drawn to as a potential setting for a longer project. This should be an interior or exterior location that you have access to in town or near by. Save stills and motion clips for future reference.

Blog #1 If this was...

If this was a movie about my life, it would be a ___________________ (genre / style), created by _________________________________ (artist/ director).

The story about my life would be ____________________ ________________________________________ (describe visual qualities and emotional tone). It would be set in _______________ (era) in ___________________ (location). The pace of the story would be _________________. The Director of Photography would be ______________, the camera work would be ______________________(describe shot types and look of cinematography)___________________ .

It would be the story of _______________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
(short synopsis). In the project, my ________________ (family member) would be played by _____________________ (actor) and __________________ (actor) would play the love interest. The main conflict in the story would involve ___________________________.
In the climax of the story, _________________________ would happen. This scene would feel very ______________(emotion) and be visually _________________ (look). The audience would be most surprised by the ending, when I _________________________________________________________.

Use this story template to reveal something about who you are and what you love in cinema. SAVE your story to post to the blog.

January 2, 2014

Movies to catch on Netflix
Movie List: Must-Watch Films You Might Have Missed
by BLOUIN ARTINFO 01/01/14 7:59 AM EST

"Frances Ha" - Directed by Noah Baumbach

"To the Wonder" - Directed by Terrence Malick

"Something in the Air" - Directed by Olivier Assayas