FIL 1007.0001
Foundations of Story
Dr. Lisa Mills
Fall 2009
SYLLABUS AND POLICIES

FIL 1007:  Foundations of Story

Film Department

College of Arts and Humanities, University of Central Florida

 

COURSE SYLLABUS

 

 

 

 

 

Instructor:

Dr. Lisa Mills

Term:

Fall 2009

Office:

TR 541, Room 101

Class Meeting Days:

Mondays

Phone:

(407) 823-3606

Class Meeting Hours:

10:30-1:20

E-Mail:

lmills@mail.ucf.edu

Class Location:

Clsrm Bld 1, Rm103

Website:

http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~lmills

Links of Interest: 

Student Films
Film Blog
Colloquium

Office Hours:

Tues/Weds 3pm-5pm or by Appt.

 

 

 

Click here for Section 1 Timeline

People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.
-Joseph Campbell

Some might argue (and I'm one of them) that stories are the basis by which human beings organize their thoughts, feelings and experiences. We all move from one story to the next throughout our day, indeed throughout our lives. Each morning is the beginning of a new story, the story of what we will do that day. We go work or school and interact with characters , some familiar, some new. Throughout the day, we respond to circumstances through actions. Evening moves us toward the end of the day's story, and even if activity continues on until bedtime, we often drift into sleep rewinding the day's experiences, perhaps reflecting on what went well, what we would have done differently, what we must do the next day when our story continues. Day by day, our interactions with characters and reactions to pressures brought by environment and circumstance may result in our discovery of some kind of overall life mission or purpose.

Life is the raw material of art.
-Herb Zettl

Stories are fundamental to all the arts. This course will help you understand how they are told and why they matter. The first step is understanding your own story and learning how to tell it. You must discover yourself as your first character. Only then will you be prepared to begin the long, arduous process of trying to create characters other people will care about. It will take a long time for you to figure out how to do this, then once you have begun to develop characters you will need more skill and practice to know how to steer them through the actions that result in a meaningful television program or film. The purpose of this course is to help you get started in this process.

OBJECTIVES

Through critical thinking and careful study, you will leave this course with an understanding of the psychological, sociological and cultural foundations for the ways humans construct their stories.

EXPECTATIONS
At the end of the term when evaluating instructors many students say expectations of their work were never clarified. Please read my effort to clarify expectations below. It is the student's responsibility to seek more information and clarity from the instructor if the following expectations are not understood.

YOU ARE EXPECTED TO READ THE FOLLOWING MATERIALS, WHICH HAVE BEEN SELECTED FOR YOU WITH GREAT CARE. Your exams may contain material from any of the following books and articles regardless of whether it is discussed in class:

Oedipus Rex
by Sophocles
FREE e-book available via access to NetLibrary through your UCF library.

Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters - Storytelling Secrets from the Greatest Mind in Western Civilization
by Michael Tierno
Published by Hyperion, New York
ISBN 0-7868-8740-0
Approx. $13.95

The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers
by Christopher Vogler
Published by Michael Wiese Productions, Studio City, CA
ISBN 0-941188-70-1
Approx. $24.95

The Art of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Motives
by Lajos Egri
Simon & Schuster (Touchstone Books)
ISBN 0-671-21332-6
Approx. $14.00


WHY I CHOSE THESE BOOKS:
I avoid using generalized textbooks and instead point students to original works. These are classic works I think you'll want to hold onto as resources for your progression through coursework in any area of film, writing, or some other creative endeavour. The film program at UCF exists to promote creative thinking independent of the Hollywood model. Although we will screen some popular movies, all efforts will be made to encourage students to write meaningful and relevant stories that come from their individual experiences and backgrounds.

ATTENDANCE IS NOT OPTIONAL, IT IS REQUIRED.
You are expected to come to class. Attendance will be taken at an unannounced time during each class, and more than two unexcused absences will result in the lowering of your grade by one letter. If you are not present while attendance is taken you will be considered absent. The instructor reserves the right to mark a student absent if they get up and leave class after attendance is taken. If you need to discuss an absence with me you must do so during my office hours. I will not discuss such issues before or after class. Excused absences include but are not limited to:
-serious illness documented by a physician (appointment notice or prescription form are not adequate)
-documented hospital visit
-serious illness of an immediate family member (not boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend or roommate)
-death in the family

THE ARE NO MAKEUP EXAMS AND I DO NOT PROVIDE STUDY SHEETS. HOWEVER, YOU WILL WANT TO ATTEND THE EXAM REVIEW SESSIONS BECAUSE I THINK YOU'LL FIND THEM VERY VALUABLE. NO EXAMS WILL BE HANDED OUT AFTER THE FIRST EXAM IS TURNED IN, SO BE ON TIME FOR EXAMS.

(3 exams, 100 pts each)

There will be a second exam (given before course withdrawal date) and a cumulative final. The final will be given at the date and time prescribed by the university. You may not make arrangements to take any exams or the final at any time other than that time assigned by the instructor. If you provide documentation of an excused absence (see above) the instructor may consider allowing you to double your final exam grade to replace the zero you received on the mid term. If you attend class you will know what to expect on the exams. Strict rules to prevent cheating will be administered during class prior to the exam. These rules include: no electronic devices (phones, PDAs, laptops, ipods, beepers), large bags or back packs into the classroom on exam day, so plan now for where you will store these items. You will need a valid PID to take the exams.

CUMULATIVE FINAL
University policy requires all UCF instructors to meet with their classes at a scheduled time during finals week. I will be offering a fourth exam at that time. You may take this fourth cumulative exam if you choose to do so. If you do better on the final that you did on one of the three main exams your grade for that exam will be replaced by one you got on the cumulative exam. If you do worse on the cumulative final it will be tossed out. NOTE ABOUT SPRING BREAK AND OTHER TRAVEL: I will not give any exam, including the final, in advance. The date of the cumulative final is on the timeline. Make your travel plans accordingly.

FILM FESTIVAL EXTRA CREDIT ASSIGNMENT
Central Florida hosts several independent film festivals every year and one extra credit assignment may be completed by attending one of the festivals. If you work you must adjust your work schedule now to attend the Global Peace Film Festival September 22 - 27. Visit the festival Web site for schedules, directions and details. If you purchase tickets at the door they take CASH ONLY.  No other extra credit accomodations will be made if you cannot attend the festivals, so put in for time off work now. No festivals in other cities are eligible for the assignment.

LAPTOP/CELL PHONE POLICY
I don't mind laptops open in class if you're taking notes, reviewing powerpoints or Googling something relevant. What I do mind is Facebooking, buying stuff on ebay, downloading free software and live chat. The same thing goes for texting. ALL CELL PHONES AND LAPTOPS TURNED OFF DURING MOVIE SCREENINGS. If I note that students are using laptops and cell phones inappropriately during class I will ban them completely, as other professors have done.

LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION AND DEPARTMENTAL PAPERWORK
I do not write any recommendation letters of any kind (internships, scholarships, president's leadership council, sorority, etc.) for students in a 1000 level course. I just don't feel I know you well enough yet.

GRADING
Points will be posted on myGrades. Every attempt will be made to keep you aware of where you are as the course progresses. If you are concerned about your grade, it is your responsibility to talk with the instructor sooner rather than later. In order to protect your privacy, the instructor does not discuss any grading or attendance situations via email. The instructor will make every attempt to respond to an email within 24 hours, with the exception of holidays and weekends.

Here is how the grading breaks down:

Exam 1 100 points, 33% of grade

Exam 2 100 points, 33% of grade

Exam 3 100 points, 33% of grade

The other 1% (3 points) will be determined by your attendance record.

I do not use the plus/minus system in large lecture courses.

A 271-303

B 240-270

C 210-239

D 180-209

F below 180