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January 1993


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Jeff Rush <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 14 Jan 1993 13:53:34 -0500
text/plain (69 lines)
Dear Jame Allan Schamus,
I'm sorry you won't be able to attend the UFVA conference because your
approach sounds interesting.  I would appreciate more details and a
sylabus.  If not in August, maybe we can do something joinly at some time
since our schools are reasonable close together.
If you wish, you can send me stuff at:
Annenberg Hall
Temple Univ.
Phila., Pa. 19122
Jeff Rush
On Thu, 7 Jan 1993, James Allan Schamus wrote:
> Dear Jeff Rush:
> Although I probably won't be able to attend the UFVA conference in August,
> I'm deeply interested in your phrasing of the theory/practice problem -- a
> problem that should probably first be addressed by the question: problem
> for who? As an active independent film producer (credits on SWOON, POISON,
> IN THE SOUP, THE GOLDEN BOAT, etc.) and as a full time faculty member at
> Columbia in theory and history, the theory/practice split is a lived one
> for me, as I'm sure it is for many of us. This past year I've developed a
> course called "No-Budget Production: Theory and Practice," which tried to
> bridge the gap, or at least articulate it. I teach my students how to
> incorporate as businesses, and then teach them the history and ideology of
> limited liability companies; a.d. breakdowns and scheduling lead to a
> study of the institutionalization of the shooting script and the
> industrialization of narrative; option agreements and releases blends with
> a discussion of early film copyright practices and debates over ownership
> of the image; and the introduction of new markets and media (DBS, satellite,
> cable) is mixed with Baudrillard and Negroponte.  I also screen a lot of
> "avant-garde" American works -- Schneeman, Mekas, etc. -- in an attempt to
> recover some of the pre-"independent" history of non-Hollywood filmmaking.
> Mainly, without shoving some predetermined theoretical vocabulary down my
> students' throats, I try to do battle against the prevailing
> anti-intellectual ethos ("I don't like to analyze so much because it ruins
> my creativity, blah blah blah") by simply clearing a space for emerging
> media producers to _think_ about what they're doing.  Have I succeeded? So
> far it's hard to tell, but maybe a bit. Does the practice of the course
> lead to any theoretical insights on the place of academic film theory
> within professional film education? Not yet, as far as I can tell. But it
> has been a lot of fun, and many of the students have produced interesting
> no-budget video projects (part of the course serves as a launching pad
> for a critique of the current trend toward overproduced, costly student
> shorts) and intriguing self-critiques.
> I'll be happy to mail a syllabus to anyone interested. Just e-mail back or
> write to me at:
> James Schamus
> Good Machine
> 516 West 25th Street
> New York, NY 10001
> 212/229-1046
> P.S. I've also developed an advanced film theory class in which I banish
> contemporary film theory texts and replace them with theories of vision,
> from Plato (the Meno) and Alberti to Heidegger, Lessing, Bataille, Kant,
> etc. We screen films that deal with vision in one way or another (Herzog's
> Land of Silence and Darkness, Argento's Profondo Rosso, and Snow's So Is
> This were big hits). Another little professional provocation that turned
> out to be a lot of fun.