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Dear Jeff Rush:
Thanks for your note. Here's the no-budg syllabus:
NO-BUDGET FILMMAKING: THEORY AND PRACTICE
SPRING 1993
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
JAMES SCHAMUS
TELEPHONE: 678-4695 (H); 229-1046 (O)
10 AM - 2 PM WEDNESDAYS
507 DODGE HALL
OFFICE HOURS WED 4-5:30 AND BY APPT., 601E DODGE HALL
 
An intensive nuts-and-bolts workshop for the active film producer,
as well as a collective theoretical inquiry into the relationship
between no-budget modes of production and their aesthetic and
political implications. On the practical side, particular attention
will be paid to the legal and business aspects of independent
filmmaking.  On the theoretical side, we will focus somewhat on the
question of narrative -- its industrialization in the Hollywood
film industry and its uses in the independent sector. Please note:
this class requires as a prerequisite some background both in
production and film theory.  If you have no production experience
and/or little interest in or knowledge of contemporary film theory,
do not register for this course.
 
Required readings:
James Schamus, No-Budget Filmmaking
Weekly Variety
Reader of various articles.
 
Requirements:
All readings are to be completed by the class session for which
they are assigned. There will be a mid-term quiz, a final quiz, a
short work (perhaps a video essay, class presentation, or paper)
and a substantial final paper (which can accompany a video
project). Attendance is required. Plagiarism will result in an
automatic fail and notification of the dean's office. Please note:
NO LATE PAPERS OR ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED, and incomplete
grades are granted only to those who have obtained letters from the
dean's office. Due to the fluctuating schedules of some possible
guest speakers, class reading assignments might get shifted around.
 
 
1. INTRODUCTION
Jan 20
Modes of production, modes of representation.
Films: Bruce Conner, A Movie; Sadie Benning, It Wasn't Love and
Every Girl Has a Diary
 
2. INDEPENDENT FILM AS A BUSINESS
Jan 27
Incorporation, partnerships, DBAs, lawyers, limited partnerships,
pre-sales, working with not-for-profits, venture capital.
Readings: from James Schamus, No-Budget Filmmaking; various
contracts; Fillingham, "The Limited Liability Company as a Human
Being"; The Independent
 
3. AVANT-GARDE/INDEPENDENT
Feb 3
Films: Kenneth Anger, Scorpio Rising; Christopher Munch, The Hours
and Times
Readings: Schamus, "American Independents -- Depending on Europe";
Filmmaker
 
4. RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Feb 10
Releases, options, story rights, real people, locations, insurance
scams and necessities
Readings: Andre Gaudreault, "The Infringement of Copyright Laws and
Its Effects (1900 - 1906)"
 
5. LABOR AND TALENT
Feb 17
Deal memos, crew care and feeding, casting, SAG vs. non-SAG,
unions, agreements, deferrals, points.
Readings: various contracts
Readings: Gaines, "Reading Star Contracts"
 
6. DOCUMENTARY SUBVERSIONS
Feb 24
Film: Su Friedrich, Sink or Swim
Readings: Variety
 
7. SCRIPTS AND BUDGETS
Mar 3
Narrative and continuity, scheduling, breaking it down, computers,
cash flows, cost reports
Readings: Janet Staiger, "Mass Produced Photoplays: Economic and
Signifying Practices in the First Years of Hollywood"
MID-TERM QUIZ
 
8. TECHNOLOGY AND SUBJECTIVITY
Mar 10
From spectacle to network.
Readings: Negroponte, "Products and Services for the Computer Age";
Gilder, "Into the Telecosm"
 
SPRING BREAK
 
9. HI-TECH II: THE NEW BACK END
Mar 24
Screening: Mark Pellington reel
Reading: Jean Baudrillard, "The Ecstasy of Communication"; Chester,
"Independents and the New Media"
 
10. PRE-PRODUCTION, LOCATIONS, ETC.
Mar 31
Permits and parking, scheduling in production, the Mayor's office,
building vs. finding, vehicles, sound, call sheets and production
reports, vendors, purchase orders, invoices.
Readings: from No Budget Filmmaking
 
11. THE "POSTMODERN" PRACTITIONER
April 7
The question of authorial presence.
Film: Jonas Mekas, Lost, Lost, Lost reel 3
Readings: Fredric Jameson, "Postmodernism and Consumer Society";
Roland Barthes, "The Death of the Author"
 
12. SALES, DISTRIBUTION AND MARKETING
April 14
Festivals, sales agents, 16 or 35?, e&o insurance, trailers and
rough cuts, markets, press and materials, agreements and issues,
advertising, four-walling and self distribbing.
Film: tba
Readings: Weekly Variety; Jim Stark, "In England They Drive on the
Wrong Side of the Road"; from The Independent
 
13. POST PRODUCTION
April 21
Music rights, blow ups, dealing with the lab, titles, international
m&e and other requirements, the editing room, the sound mix.
Readings: from No Budget Filmaking; various contracts
 
14. CASE STUDY
April 28
Film and readings tba.
PAPER DUE