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: Radio-Television-Film Annenberg Hall Temple Univ. Phila., Pa. 19122 Thanks, 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.