Skip to main content

Directing for the Screen

The Directing for the Screen module is for focused study and practice of narrative motion picture directing. The centerpiece of the module is an intensive two-quarter sequence in which students create a single 5-15 minute short film partially funded by the University. Filmmakers in the module express their vision through the various crafts – cinematography, editing, directing actors, art direction, sound — and collaborate with others to have the greatest command over the language of the film, asserting a strong directorial voice. Industry professionals on our advisory board and invited guest artists will advise on these short films and offer counsel on career development and professional best practices.  In addition to required core classes in directing (RTVF 397 sequence), students in the module choose to take two courses from a menu of production classes. As a capstone, they will then present a portfolio with completed short films and a written evaluation of filmmaking practice, aesthetic concerns, working methods, goals and experiences, including curricular and extracurricular work. 

Learning Objectives

  • Thorough understanding of various modes of production involved in directing for the screen. 
  • Understand the context of your own work within screen history. 
  • Acquire a mastery of at least one chosen skill among several required to produce high quality works for the screen. 
  • Attain a self awareness about the trajectory of your own body of work. 
  • Complete at least one significant work and multiple minor works for screen and/or stage as part of a portfolio. 
  • Understand the processes necessary for continuing your work in a self-directed fashion after graduation. 


Directing for the Screen Course Requirements


Opportunities for application and practice on campus: 

Participation in student production groups. 

Opportunities for projects, practica, and internships off campus: 

Local production opportunities and internships. 

Community Building Activities: 

Block cinema, visiting filmmaker lectures, student group screenings. 


The Capstone for this module should include (but is not restricted to) the following two components: 

  • Portfolio which must include: 
    • A reel on DVD, containing 2 or more complete short films you have directed (including class assignments, extra-curricular and off-campus work) 
    • A filmmaking resume
    • A bio 
    • A filmography listing projects as director and in any other craft (editing, cinematography, sound) central to your filmmaking practice. List awards/honors, as well as festivals/other venues where the films have played 
    • Brief synopses and brief director’s statement for all films on your reel, in addition to press kit materials for at least one of the films, which may include such items as production photos, production history, director/cast/crew interview(s), as well as press clippings about your films and any reviews of your work or festival synopses that engage in thematic or qualitative analysis.) 
  • A 10-15 page analysis of your filmmaking process while a student at NU, including a consideration of professional prospects and sustainability that must include the following: 
      • An historical and aesthetic understanding of different traditions in narrative filmmaking, both in terms of story structure and visualization. 
      • A statement of who you are as a director in the context of these traditions: what subject matter, genres, traditions and technical aspects of cinematic storytelling (performance, cinematography, editing/post-production, sound) matter most in your practice and why. 
      • An extended discussion of one film on your reel, directly addressing technical, narrative and/or performance techniques employed, with citation of key artistic influence(s), relating to the emotional, thematic and physiological experiences you worked to create in your film and why. 
      • An assessment of process: how have your finished work, working methods, collaborations, and your developing strengths, as well as your goals for future work, developed and changed in making these films? 
      • A reflection on experience gained through off-campus and extracurricular filmmaking activities (internships and jobs). 
      • A knowledge of venues, potential markets, and sources of development and production support for emerging filmmakers. 
  • These points of analysis must address/include: 
      • How you situate your work and methods historically and aesthetically 
      • What skills you’ve developed/ experiences you’ve had 
      • A list of your artistic and professionally attainable goals 





Sponsoring Department: Radio/Television/Film 

Module Coordinator (main student contact): Clayton Brown 

Committee of Instruction: Spencer Parsons, Kyle Henry, Clayton Brown, Mimi White 

Module Advisor: Kalisha Cornett 

How to Enroll 

This module is open to RTVF majors. 

In the junior year, students apply for admission, which will accept 12 students, who will then take the core sequence of RTVF 397-1 (fall) and 397-2 (winter) in their senior year. To apply, students are required to have already completed one elective production course from the menu of 4 options. Students will present a proposal for a short film to be completed in the RTVF 397 sequence and a sample of past work. 

To apply contact Kalisha Cornett, module advisor, 

Module Timeline: 

Students will be emailed in the winter quarter of junior year with instructions for applying to the module. Applications will be due in mid-March. The core course sequence will be completed in fall and winter of the student’s senior year, and the capstone must be submitted for evaluation by the fifth week of spring quarter and completed by the eighth week. Because of this timing, students will only have one opportunity to complete and submit the capstone. 

Grade Policy

Students must maintain a B- average in module coursework. If their average falls below B-, they will not be permitted to submit a capstone.