Jay Craven

MA Goddard College. Writer/director/producer: High Water (w/Greg Germann, Jane MacFie); Where the Rivers Flow North (w/Rip Torn, Tantoo Cardinal, Michael J. Fox); A Stranger in the Kingdom (w/ Ernie Hudson, Martin Sheen, David Lansbury); In Jest (w/Bill Raymond, Tantoo Cardinal, Rusty DeWees); Windy Acres (w/ Ariel Kiley, Bill Raymond, Seana Kofoed, Rusty DeWees); Disappearances (w/ Kris Kristofferson, Gary Famer, Charlie McDermott, Genevieve Bujold); Northern Borders (w/ Bruce Dern, Genevieve Bujold, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Jessica Hecht); Peter and John (w/ Jacqueline Bisset, Christian Coulson, Diane Guerrero); Wetware (w/ Jerry O’Connell, Cameron Scoggins, Morgan Wolk). Writer/director: The Year That Trembled (w/ Jonathan Brandis, Marin Hinkle, Fred Willard, Martin Mull). Documentaries include After the Fog, Dawn of the People, Gayleen, and Approaching the Elephant (producer). Festivals and special screenings include: Sundance, SXSW, AFI Fest, Vienna, Vancouver, Avignon, Havana, Lincoln Center, Smithsonian, Harvard Film Archives, Cinematheque Francaise, Constitutional Court of Johannesburg, and Cinemateca Nacional de Venezuela. Awards and recognition: Producers Guild of America NOVA Award; Gotham Award nomination; two National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) film production grants; finalist, Critics Week, Cannes Film Festival; selection to the Sundance Collection at UCLA; NEA’s American Masterpieces Program; American Film Institute’s initial “AFI: Project 20/20 International Cultural Exchange.” Founding director and producer of the Movies From Marlboro film-intensive program, where 24 professionals mentor and collaborate with 32 students from a dozen colleges, including Sarah Lawrence. SLC, 2017–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Filmmaking and Moving Image Arts

The Writer and the Director: Translating the Scene

Open , Seminar—Fall

Writers and directors are often considered to be of two different camps or, at the very least, wearing different creative hats, depending upon what part of the process they find themselves within. And indeed, how does a director take the words on the screenplay page and realize them in a film scene? And coming from the writer's angle, how does one create useful words on the screenplay page that evoke what is intended to end up on the screen? Every screenwriter needs to think like a director. Every director needs to be skilled at translating the text of the screenplay into the film that is intended. This class will provide an in-depth exploration into processes that a director may utilize in order to develop and actualize his/her vision of a scene as written on the pages of the screenplay. In kind, we will also study the elements that can inform the process of the writer, eager to understand how his/her pages can create the intended result on the screen. In some cases, we’ll see that the text can be clean and useful; in others, the text may be too rich or too spare or, in any case, somehow lacking. The real work of the writer and of the director is to understand the intent of the action in a scene’s text and to strategize how to realize the scene for maximum impact. Of course, particularly in today’s landscape, the writer and director can often be the same person. In any event, a filmmaker (writer and/or director) can enhance his/her overall skills by looking at the process through both lenses. In this class, we’ll view films, organize in-class exercises, and use published screenplays to immerse ourselves in the process of interpreting the text and preparing it for the screen. This will include the crucial work required of any writer and/or director: screenplay scene analysis, interpretation and breakdown, character development, and how to access and communicate visual ideas for the look of the film. We’ll study camera styles and movement in order to decide how best to visually realize the screenplay through your shot selection. We’ll also consider staging, casting, and other elements that create your film’s mise en scene. Each student will pursue a series of exercises, culminating in the preparation, directing, shooting, and editing of two scenes using published screenplays: For the first exercise, you’ll take a simple scene from a published script (a private moment, without dialogue) and develop characters through cinematic storytelling. For your second exercise, you will take another simple scene, with dialogue, from the same screenplay in order to experiment with all of the ideas developed throughout the class. As a writing and directing “methods” class, the aim is not to make a short film but rather to translate scene work from an existent published screenplay and determine how to articulate the dramatic action of the characters in the context of an overall sequence—or several connected scenes. The screen material generated will have less emphasis on production design, wardrobe, props, and locations. Instead, students will focus on the dramatic and emotional action of the characters within a scene. In conference, students may pursue the writing of original scene work, the writing of a short script, or the expansion of a screenplay in development. With the permission of the professor, students may seek to shoot a scene from their original material to be delivered as part of their final conference work. Once again, the focus of the class is on the realization of scene work through process and methodology rather than the creation of a short film. Technical labs will be included for those who require instruction in the basic use of camera equipment, lighting, sound and editing. No previous experience in writing or directing is required.

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Screenwriting Through the Director’s Lens

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course will focus on the practice of screenwriting from a director’s unique point of view. Even if students never plan to direct, they are indeed writing a script to be directed. Therefore, it’s of significant value for a writer to be thinking like a director, just as a director who never intends to act benefits from taking acting classes. The fact is, until a director shows up, the writer has to fill those directorial shoes in the creation of the screenplay. Effective screenwriting requires an understanding of story structure and an ability to shape character, theme, tone, and incident to dramatic effect. It is said that every film is made (at least) three times—through screenwriting, production, and postproduction. The screenwriting process is a safe and open platform to imagine every detail of the unfolding vision for a film, as characters take on a life of their own and as the story becomes what it is meant to become. The class will include writing exercises, discussions of exemplary scripts circulated for study, screening discussions, and critiques of each other’s work. In conference, students may work on whatever interests them, whether that involves short or feature-length film screenplays, TV pilots, Web series, or something unique. As the semester advances, conference work can naturally merge with the workshopping process, with regular revision of one’s writing for maximum impact. The expectation is that you will come to the class with a piece on which you wish to work.

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Screenwriting Is Rewriting

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

The course title—a ubiquitous adage in the world of screenwriting—says it all. Screenwriting IS rewriting. This course is for the screenwriter specifically involved in the rewriting process. The student is expected to have a previously completed short-form or long-form script, teleplay, original TV pilot episode, Web series writing, et al, which they wish to take to the next level. Through a rigorous yet supportive workshop environment, the goal is to reconsider all aspects of what has been written with the aim of a refined—if not polished—draft by semester’s end. Conference will be devoted to the considerably demanding task of the rewriting process. That being said, conference may also include the initiation of a future project from the concept stage, developing and defining (or redefining) characters, building or restructuring an outline, and so forth. While format, style, and structural strategies will be reviewed and honed in the course, the expectation is that the writer has screenwriting experience.

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