About Winter Term in Sundance
This is Professor Nathan Andersen's third time taking a class to the Sundance Film Festival, located in Park City, Utah. The trip is part of a Winter Term class which is aimed at students wishing to garner an understanding of the state and history of independent film in America today and throughout its history (and people who simply love watching movies). More specifically there is an emphasis in the class on allowing the students to explore and become familiar with the economics, politics, history and process of independent filmmaking throughout the last 50 years or so. Part of the way that the students come to understand this is through working on their own films.
Before leaving for the festival, the students (there are a total of 19 this year) are involved in a 10 session course which meets everyday from 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Some mornings are spent learning about independent film and talking about the readings. Most of the morning sessions, however, are filled with time spent working on a film project. The groups are made up of 5 students, and each person is assigned a role (Director/Writer, Cinematographer/Editor, Producer, Associate Producer, Production Designer). At the end of the on campus course, there is a film festival where the projects are shown in Miller Auditorium. The purpose of this project is to give each student the experience of being a filmmaker so they can hopefully understand how to react to a filmmaker's work. Says Jack Arlook, "Making the film was just a lot of fun for me. It was only a great time though, because of the people I was working with. Katie did a great job directing us. Everyone really contributed greatly to what we were trying to do and we all just had a lot of fun working on the project. I'm excited because I've only seen a few shots and I have no idea what it's going to look like after its cut up. I'm hoping its all going to come together in the end." Katie Castonguay, a junior theatre major said this about the process: "The art of film has given us the power to create. I feel it has opened new possibilities for me that i was blind to for so long as well as shown me the dedication it takes to put one's passion into reality."
On January 19th, the entire group meets early in the morning and departs for Utah. The next ten days are spent watching films and watching films and eating and sleeping a bit and watching films. A journal is involved but the act of reviewing a film will most likely be second nature at that point from becoming so familiar with the process in class. The experience at Sundance is important for each student's education in film/filmmaking because it gives them the experience of being immersed in the industry while still maintaining the ability of looking at it from an analytical/student's point of view. In other words, have you ever wondered if you would like to be in the film industry? Well, this is a sure way to find out if it is your cup of tea.