Doug MacHugh

BA, New England College. MFA, Sarah Lawrence College. Peace Corps, El Salvador. Writer of PSAs, commercials, industrials, and documentaries. Script writer and talent director at Gates Productions for 80 hours of local and regional live television in Los Angeles; one of two conceptual designers for Mitsubishi’s Waterfront Project, creating 32 amusement park attractions; creative producer of Red Monsoon, a feature film shot in Nepal. Film acting credits include Clean and Sober, Alien Nation, Come See the Paradise, and Weird Science; television acting credits include Guiding Light, Law and Order, Cheers, Quantum Leap, LA Law, and Night Court; stage credits include Holy Ghost, End Game, Zoo Story, Fishing, and Wat Tyler; directing credits include Platypus Rex, Mafia on Prozac, The 17th of June, North of Providence, Only You, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Weir. Co-director and co-producer of SLC Web Series, “Socially Active,” Web feature film Elusive, and television pilot “Providers.” Recipient of two [Los Angeles] Drama-Logue Critics’ Awards for acting. SLC, 2000–

Undergraduate Courses 2019-2020

Filmmaking and Moving Image Arts

The Actor’s Voice Over: An Intensive Exploration of Voice Work

Open , Seminar—Year

This class will meet once a week for three hours in the Heimbold Sound Booth.

Have you ever wondered who performs the voices that you encounter in your everyday life? You spend a portion of each day listening, waiting, and learning from these voices—the familiar voices you hear when watching television commercials, the annoying voice that tells you to hold and that your call is important. Voices are everywhere. These voices are created by performers. You hear them in the narration of documentaries, television and radio commercials, animation, graphic novels, video games, phone applications, podcasts, audio books, audio tours, tutorials, and PSAs. In each class session, students will work with a sound editor on a variety of projects—from film and television to commercial spokesperson copy, group ADR, ambience, (wala wala)—creating believable character voices for animation. Students will also investigate breathing and relaxation techniques, appropriate pacing, enunciation, flexibility, and clarity. Facilitating vocal and improvisational exercises, the students will develop what will become their signature voice, as well as investigate and develop character voices for animation. Students will also write original material to be performed and recorded. Conference work will involve specific readings covering the historical aspects of post-production work in film. The student and the professor will decide on a specific aspect of film production work to further investigate.

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Less is More: On Camera Performance

Open , Seminar—Year

This course will focus on both the natural and technical aspects of camera performance. The student will learn how to create living, breathing characters constructed and crafted with an emotional inner life that is supported through organic impulses and analytical comprehension of text. The work will require concentrated attention and expansion of emotional perceptions. The student will develop the ability to actively listen and not to anticipate the resolution but, rather, to discover it in the moment. The scene work will be taken from published screenplays. The students will cold read the material and then memorize, rehearse, and further investigate character using improvisational and emotional exercises. Students will learn how much physicality is required for the various shots that make up the scene and learn how to harness the physical and emotional focus for extreme close-up work. There is the required movement aspect to this workshop, as well. Each session will begin with physical and emotional exercises that will allow the performers to move, to breathe, and to play. During the filming sessions, the students will have the opportunity to investigate sound, lighting, and editing. Voice-over and ADR skills will also be explored. Students are required to write original monologues and short original scenes that will be filmed during the spring semester. The scenes will be shot in a workshop atmosphere that concentrates on performance rather than production value. This course of study is equally valuable to the emerging performer, director, or screenwriter seeking to understand the alchemy of performance for the camera.

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Previous Courses

Less is More: On Camera Performance

Open , Seminar—Year

This course will focus on both the natural and technical aspects of camera performance. The student will learn how to create living, breathing characters constructed and crafted with an emotional inner life that is supported through organic impulses and analytical comprehension of text. The student will learn to create characters drawn from one’s own life experience, emotional substitution, and the limitless possibility of the imagination. The work will require a concentrated attention and expansion of emotional perceptions. The student will develop the ability to actively listen and see and not to anticipate or expect. The scene work will be taken from published screenplays, both contemporary and historical. Period work will require a richly detailed and historically accurate character study, paying attention to both the social and historical demands and the language. The scenes will be memorized, rehearsed, further explored with improvisational exercises, and reviewed with monitor playback. The scenes will then be camera blocked and shot in a workshop atmosphere that concentrates on performance rather than production value. Students will learn how much physicality is required for the master shot and for the two shot and how to harness the physical and emotional focus for extreme close-up work. There is the required movement aspect to this workshop, as well. Each session will begin with physical and emotional exercises that will allow the performers to move, to breathe, and to play. Students will be offered the opportunity to step behind the camera and observe what the DP sees in order to better comprehend the framing of a shoot. They will learn how to maintain and match continuity while using props and physical movement. Voice-over and ADR skills will also be explored. In the spring semester, the students will work on final scenes that will be either original or published. Those scenes will be costumed, with props and production value. Conference work will be discussed individually with each student. The course will include short writing assignments, weekly performance journals, short reactions to the required texts, and perhaps writing original monologues to be performed. This course of study is equally valuable to the emerging performer, director, and screenwriter seeking to understand the alchemy of performance for the camera.

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Creating the Web Series

Open , Seminar—Year

Each student, without exception, must interview with the instructor.

During the fall semester, the students will develop a community that supports a judgment-free working environment, where the goal is to collectively create the best original work possible. This class is not about competition but, rather, about creating collectively. During our Monday sessions, the students will conceive and develop 3- to 5-page film scenes that thematically capture a specific moment in time. The concept and materials to be developed will be revised and finalized for shooting by the end of the fall semester. (These scenes can also be the genesis of a larger script to be worked on later.) During our Thursday sessions, we will begin with warmup exercises developed to get outside of our passive selves and play like children. These exercises will expand our vocal and physical creative base. We will work on intimacy and trust exercises that address issues such as blocking, negating, and posturing. We will read both published and original scenes that will be memorized for the following week. We will break down the scenes dramatically to demonstrate what works and what does not. The students will work on improvisational exercises—taken from beats within the script—that will explore and expand the complexities of a character’s inner life. For our conference work, we will view and discuss feature films and documentaries that primarily focus on the Central American revolutions—such as El Norte, Finding Oscar, Under Fire, and Salvador—but will also include the historical origins of religious and cultural conflicts with films such as The Mission, Apocalypto, and Where the River Runs Black. The fall semester conference work will involve writing about a specific aspect of the films viewed and discussed in class. The spring conference work will be shooting the vignettes. The students will be required to experience all production areas, (editing, lighting, sound, camera, and directing) and to keep a weekly journal of the journey throughout the year. The goal is to make the class self-sufficient, in that students will write, direct, film, and edit their own material. We will have tech-lab workshops that help students better facilitate skills in lighting, cameras, sound, and editing. This class is open to writers, actors, and directors interested in creating through collaboration.

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First-Year Studies: Respect for Screen Acting—Performance and Film

Open , FYS—Year

This yearlong First-Year Studies course will focus on both the organic and technical aspects of the craft of camera performance. The student will learn how to create three-dimensional characters constructed with a deeply detailed, emotional inner life that is supported through analytical comprehension of text. Through specific exercises, students will learn to heighten and expand their awareness of the physical and emotional senses and how to read, decipher, and support emotional and physical subtext. During the first semester, the primary focus will be performance work. Students will work on emotional substitution, conflict, obstacles, inner struggles, duplicity, and character journey. They will work on published scenes, group exercises, and application of improvisation to expand the inner life and backstory of the character. Using scenes from both contemporary and historical films, they will observe, write about, and discuss the political, historical, and cultural evolution of contemporary directing and acting styles. The second semester will offer the interested student the opportunity to learn, through hands-on application, the technical side, as well. Through workshops featuring editing, sound, camera, and lighting, the student will explore the various aspects of production. During the second semester, the students will apply these skills to rendering both written and original work in class. They will be assigned production roles, whether operating cameras or doing sound, lighting, or editing. Conference work will include the viewing, analyzing, and discussion of classic and contemporary films and related texts and, in the second semester, the completion of a finished, edited, and workshopped scene.

Faculty

Less is More: On-Camera Performance

Open , Seminar—Year

This course will focus on both the natural and technical aspects of camera performance. The student will learn how to create living, breathing characters constructed and crafted with an emotional inner life that is supported through organic impulses and analytical comprehension of text. The student will learn to create characters drawn from one’s own life experience, emotional substitution, and the limitless possibility of the imagination. The work will require a concentrated attention and expansion of emotional perceptions. The student will develop the ability to actively listen and see and not to anticipate or expect. The scene work will be taken from published screenplays, both contemporary and historical. Period work will require a richly detailed and historically accurate character study, paying attention to both the social and historical demands and the language. The scenes will be memorized, rehearsed, further explored with improvisational exercises, and reviewed with monitor playback. The scenes will then be camera blocked and shot in a workshop atmosphere that concentrates on performance rather than production value. Students will learn how much physicality is required for the master shot and for the two shot and how to harness the physical and emotional focus for extreme close-up work. There is the required movement aspect to this workshop, as well. Each session will begin with physical and emotional exercises that will allow the performers to move, to breathe, and to play. The student will be offered the opportunity to step behind the camera and observe what the DP sees in order to better comprehend the framing of a shoot. They will learn how to maintain and match continuity while using props and physical movement. Voice-over and ADR skills will also be explored. In the spring semester, the students will work on final scenes that will be either original or published. Those scenes will be costumed, with props and production value. Conference work will be discussed with each student individually. The course will include short writing assignments, weekly performance journals, short reactions to the required texts, and perhaps writing original monologues to be performed. This course of study is equally valuable to the emerging performer, director, and screenwriter seeking to understand the alchemy of performance for the camera.

Faculty

Directing for the Screen: Developing Your Collaborative Process

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

Process is everything. —Al Santana, filmmaker

The process of making films demands that people move quickly into a working relationship and get along with each other so they can successfully complete the film. Filmmakers are a nomadic collection of creative, disparate, eclectic characters and personalities. They come together, do some of the most intense work imaginable for a relatively brief period of time, and move on to new horizons—and possibly reunite down the road. This no doubt is why many directors repeatedly call upon the same people for other projects. Hitchcock, Allen, Scorsese, Campion, Tarantino, Burton, Bigelow, and Wes Anderson not only repeatedly use the same actors but also frequently collaborate again and again with certain members of their production team. A good director needs to be a good leader, highly intuitive, perceptive, and capable of delegating responsibilities. It is the director’s job to encourage collaboration, respect, creativity, enthusiasm and commitment. The director is responsible for maintaining a healthy working environment and for successfully managing emotional flareups and creative conflicts, and for coalescing divergent personalities—all while aiming to get the best from each collaborator on the journey to realizing the best-possible film work. The class will be broken up into two-member creative teams. Each team will submit for approval (or be assigned) two scenes to direct and edit. The scenes will first be workshopped, discussed, and rehearsed in class, using class members to read the material. Eventually, the scenes will be shot during class time. One team member will direct a scene while the partner will edit it, and vice versa. The team member who is editing the scene will act as the director's AD during the shoot. Classmates who are not directing on that particular day will act as the production crew. Students will be evaluated on both the creative success of the work and the overall success of the process. In conference, each student will research throughout the semester a particular film director, culminating in a final 10-minute, in-class presentation specific to that director’s style and using visual examples. Each student will also write and share in class an honest self-examination of the experience, detailing what was learned and what could be improved upon.

Faculty

Acting for Screenwriters and Directors

Open , Seminar—Fall

Personally, I would actually recommend that anyone who wants to start off on a director career or a writer career, I would suggest that you join an acting class. —Quentin Tarantino

Why are certain directors known as “actor's directors”? Why do certain directors consistently use the same pool of actors? How does a director create and maintain, on set, a positive, trusting, collaborative environment with the performer? They understand and respond to each other’s abbreviated language. Performers feel safe, which allows them to excel. One of the biggest issues for evolving directors and screenwriters is the inability to achieve the performance envisioned on the page or on the set. It is lost in translation. It is an inability to communicate without confusion, contradiction, and condensation of what one needs. Good directors respect performers and understand the rigorous demands of the craft. You will learn to create your own abbreviated vocabulary, one that is succinct and comprehensible to the actor. This will be both a physical and an intellectual course. Through exercises and rehearsals, students will study and engage in emotional expansion, impulses, instincts, improvisational skills, and chemistry and develop a hands-on vocabulary that is simple and succinct. This personal language will allow performers to feel confidant and create memorable, spontaneous moments. Students will keep a weekly journal of their journey. They will be required to read, view, and write critiques on a divergent group of contemporary screenplays and directors and will be responsible for understanding the political and historical aspects of specific screenplays and directors. The course will also analyze the emerging enlightenment and investigate the creators of new cable television series. Conference work will be to write a paper specifically dealing with one of the directors or screenwriters that we cover, including the historical, social, and political events corresponding to the time of the film.

Faculty

Performance for Film

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course will focus on both the organic and technical aspects of camera performance. The student will learn through hands-on experience how to create three-dimensional characters constructed with a deeply detailed, emotional inner life that is supported through the analytical comprehension of text. The performance work will emphasize spontaneity, substitution, conflict, consequence, obstacles, and character journey. The class will work on published scenes, group exercises, short writing prompts for the camera, original monologues, improvisation, reevaluating awareness of the physical and emotional senses, and how to read, decipher, and support emotional and physical subtext. This course of study is equally valuable to the emerging performer, director, and screenwriter seeking to understand the alchemy of performance for the camera. Students will practice comprehension of master, two-shot, and close-up performance, as well as working off camera, camera blocking, and comprehension of specific camera angles. They will learn how to maintain and match continuity while using props and physicality. Students will investigate how much one should do for the master shot in terms of movement and emotion and how to control the physical and focus the emotional for close-up work. Voice-over and ADR skills will also be explored.

Faculty