Sep 7, 2017
Arts Council, Drama, Film

This Arts Council-funded project supports a project with Guest Artist, Paul Wagner in Screenwriting & Film Production, proposed by Colleen Kelly, Chair of Drama and Doug Grissom, Playwriting/Screenwriting (Drama)

Doug Grissom, Professor of Playwriting/Screenwriting in the Department of Drama, has initiated a collaboration with acclaimed filmmaker Paul Wagner. The collaboration is a unique year-long undertaking that will bring together educators, professionals, undergraduate students and graduate students to create a film from concept to completion. The first semester will focus on concept development, screenwriting, script readings, and storyboarding. The second semester will focus on production: directing, designing, casting, acting, filming and editing.  The project will culminate with a public screening of the films followed by Q&A sessions.

Some of the expressed goals of this project aim to facilitate one-on-one experiential teaching, class size in the first semester will be small—no more than 20 students involved: 10 undergraduate students writing screenplays, 10 undergraduate students serving as actor-readers during the development process.

The second semester will have additional student involvement both in and outside of the classroom (directors, actors, set and sound designers,videographers, editors and production crew) — perhaps 15-20 added to the original 20 depending on the casting needs of the films. The Drama Department anticipates that undergraduate students from across grounds will be involved in this project, but especially students from Drama, Media Studies and English. In the second semester,  8 graduate actors (MFA candidates in Drama) will join the collaboration team.

Students from across grounds will be invited to the final film screenings. Q&A sessions will follow the screenings featuring the student filmmakers, Paul Wagner and Doug Grissom. Lectures: At least once each semester Paul Wagner will present lecture/discussions for the entire university community on topics such as  writing screenplays vs. documentaries and the business of filmmaking/festival entry process.

Final film screenings will be open to the public. Q&A sessions will follow the screenings featuring the student filmmakers, Paul Wagner and Doug Grissom. Lectures (as described above) will also be open to the public. Although this first year will be an experimental year for this project, there is potential for developing our students to be more informed and sophisticated in their knowledge of filmmaking and, consequently, more informed and sophisticated attendees and participants in the Virginia Film Festival.

The goal is to create an experiential model of learning that follows a process through from beginning to end. Although Drama does this numerous times a year in creating live theatre, film is a very different medium and the process is much different. And, it is important to note that, for those wanting to enter the profession, live theatre does not provide a record of the process or the performance. At the completion of this film project, all involved—screenwriters, directors, actors,videographers, editors, sound/score designers, set designers, etc. will have a professional reel to showcase their work.

Check back for more information on this Arts Council-funded project’s unfolding timeline.

The Arts Council provides advocacy, advice, and support in the Arts at the University of Virginia. It strives to develop and strengthen the bonds of interest and participation among the Arts Departments, their associated programs,  and their alumni and friends; to advocate on their behalf; to advise and assist with communications; and to help raise funds in support of academic programs, facilities, and special events. Among its multitude of arts advocacy efforts, the Council awards annual Arts Council Grants. These grants have, and continue to play an instrumental role in a number of  residencies, workshops, project and research-based endeavors proposed across Arts Grounds annually. This series of articles will highlight each funded project and serve to inform the UVA community of their unique timelines, progress and outcome reports.

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