Rona Naomi Mark

BA, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. MFA, Columbia University. Award-winning writer, director, and producer. Festivals and awards include: Best of Fest, Edinburgh International Film Festival; Audience Choice Award, Filmmaker Magazine; Scenario Award, Canadian International Film and Video Festival; Best Short (second place), Galway Film Fleadh; Best Comedy/Best of Night, Polo Ralph Lauren New Works Festival; BBC’s Best Short Film About the Environment, Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival; opening-night selection, Three Rivers Film Festival; Hong Kong International Jewish Film Festival; Irish Reels Film Festival; Seattle True Independent Film Festival; New Filmmakers Screening Series; Hoboken International Film Festival; Miami Jewish Film Festival; Munich International Student Film Festival; Palm Beach International Jewish Film Festival; Pittsburgh Israeli Jewish Film Festival; Toronto Jewish Film Festival; Vancouver Jewish Film Festival; finalist, Pipedream Screenplay Competition; third prize, Acclaim TV Writer Competition; second place, TalentScout TV Writing Competition; finalist, People’s Pilot Television Writing Contest; Milos Forman Award; finalist, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Student Film Awards. Current feature film projects include: screenwriter/director/producer, Strange Girls, Mdux Pictures, LLC; screenwriter/director, Shoelaces. SLC, 2007–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Filmmaking and Moving Image Arts

The Last Picture Show: Advanced Writer/Director’s Workshop

Advanced , Seminar—Year

Experience and permission of the instructor are required. Though not exclusive, preference will be given to third- and fourth-year students.

This workshop is geared toward the student who has taken several narrative filmmaking classes and would like to work on a capstone project. In the first semester, we will develop ideas into screenplays and get them ready for production. Students may work with outside producers but will be responsible for some preliminary breakdown work in the service of producing their films. Directing exercises will focus on working with actors and creating sketches from the student’s final work. Labs will be chosen by the class members to develop certain technical skills that they may need to execute their projects. The class will include periodic film screenings to analyze the work of other established directors. Students will produce their projects early in the second semester, leaving the last portion of the term to edit and refine their films. We will workshop rough and fine cuts of their films so that the students might finish their films with a high degree of polish.

Faculty

Script to Screen

Open , Seminar—Fall

This class will introduce students to all aspects of filmmaking, from conceiving of a script through exhibition of the final work. The first semester will focus on screenwriting, and the students will write short scripts that they will then produce and direct in the second semester. Simultaneously, students will learn to use the school’s filmmaking equipment and editing software and utilize those skills in a series of short, targeted video exercises. These exercises will not only familiarize the students with the gear at their disposal but also introduce them to concepts of visual storytelling (i.e., where to put the camera to tell the story). The second semester will focus on preproduction and previsualization of the student’s conference film. Students will learn how to craft shot lists, floor plans, look books, and other tools to help them organize their film shoots. Students will also practice directing actors and finding a method for effective communication with their cast. They will also learn some basic production management skills, such as breaking down scripts for production and scheduling. After shooting their conference films, students will workshop their rough cuts in the classroom and fine-tune their edits in preparation for the final class—THE SCREENING!

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DIY: Do-It-Yourself Filmmaking: No-Budget Solutions to “Getting It Done”

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

A basic knowledge of screenwriting, camera operation, and nonlinear editing is required.

Has there ever been a better time to be a no-budget filmmaker? Recent technological advancements in camera and editing equipment have made it possible for just about anyone to create slick, high-resolution images for very little money. As films get easier to produce, however, good films become harder to find. So how does the nascent filmmaker distinguish his/her work from the crowd? With a great script, sure-footed direction, and a smart allocation of available resources. In this immersive filmmaking workshop, students will be introduced to the great, self-reliant world of DIY filmmaking. Want a smoke machine? We’ll make one! Need a portable jib arm? We’ll make one! Students will undertake several DIY builds—such as fig rigs, snorricams, panel lights, and air-pump squibs—and then work those projects into several shooting assignments. For conference, students will develop and shoot a short film over the course of the semester. We will discuss scripts not only in terms of their story but also in terms of their scope and their producability. Our next step will be to previsualize the student’s conference film by making shot lists, floor plans, and look books. Students will then go out and shoot their films and bring back the footage for editing. We’ll review basic postproduction procedures and introduce software effects that can add polish to a project without adding cost. The goal of the course is to push the student creatively without multiplying costs beyond what is necessary. With the school’s equipment and other resources at your disposal, the only limitation to you as a filmmaker is your imagination and resourcefulness.

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Previous Courses

First-Year Studies: Introduction to Narrative Fiction Filmmaking

Open , FYS—Year

This course will be an introduction to all facets of film production, from screenwriting through exhibition. The first semester will focus primarily on the art and craft of screenwriting, and students will emerge with a screenplay that they will then produce during the second semester. In addition to written assignments, students will produce several video assignments that will familiarize the students with the equipment and techniques of filmmaking. Students will form film crews from within the class and will learn the various roles on a film set. Students will learn some basic production management skills that they will then apply to the making of their own short films.

Faculty

Making the Genre Film

Open , Small seminar—Fall

This is a hands-on production course with a focus on producing genre films. Working within a genre can greatly assist the fledgling filmmaker by suggesting content and stylistic elements, thereby freeing the artist to focus on self-expression. While exploration of all genres is welcome, our class discussions and video exercises will explore various ideas present in the so-called “lesser genres” of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. Students will shoot several short video exercises, both individually and in groups, each with a certain directing and thematic prompt. Film viewings will demonstrate how genre films handle sexual politics and repression, societal and personal anxieties, naturalism as opposed to fantasy, as well as the smart use of special effects and other strategies for the low-budget, independent filmmaker. In addition to class exercises, students will each produce and direct a short video project for their conference work.

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Advanced Projects

Advanced , Small seminar—Spring

This small seminar is for students with some experience who have a project that they are ready to produce during the course of the semester. Students will workshop their screenplays in class and present shot lists, floor plans, and look books for their films. In addition to creating detailed schedules and budgets for production, students will hold auditions to cast their projects. In-class directing exercises will focus on eliciting performances from actors and finding the right visual language for the students' individual films.

Faculty

Do-It-Yourself Filmmaking: No-Budget Strategies for Getting It Done

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

Has there ever been a better time to be a no-budget filmmaker? Recent technological advancements in camera and editing equipment have made it possible for just about anyone to create slick, high-resolution images for very little money. As films get easier to produce, however, good films become harder to find. So, how does the nascent filmmaker distinguish his/her work from crowd? With a great script, sure-footed direction, and a smart allocation of his/her available resources. In this immersive filmmaking workshop, students will develop and shoot a project over the course of the semester. First, we’ll discuss scripts not only in terms of their story, but also in terms of their scope and their producability. Then we’ll practice our directing skills with a series of weekly shooting assignments that target specific directorial challenges. Next, we’ll break down our scripts for production, figuring out low-cost ways to achieve various cinematic effects. Our next step will be to previsualize the film by making shot lists, floor plans, and look books. Students will then go out and shoot their films and bring back the footage for editing. We’ll review basic postproduction procedures and introduce software effects that can add polish to a project without adding cost. The goal of the course is to push the student creatively without multiplying costs beyond what is necessary. With the school’s equipment and other resources at your disposal, the only limitation to you as a filmmaker is your imagination and resourcefulness.

Faculty

Screenwriting: Writing the Long-Form and Mid-Length Film

Open , Small seminar—Fall

With more than 400 cable and online channels available for viewing filmed content, screenwriters have a tremendous opportunity to redefine the classic parameters of a screenplay. While the feature-length film is still generally 90 to 120 minutes, which translates to roughly 90-120 pages of text, seemingly limitless formats are emerging on both the Web and cable television. This screenwriting workshop is for students who are interested in writing feature-length or mid-length films. Using the three-act narrative paradigm as our foundation, this course will accommodate writers looking to write traditional long-form movies, as well as writers whose stories don’t fall neatly into either short- or feature-length categories. Students will learn outlining methods that will help them develop a solid framework for their screenplay. After the outlining process, students will, on a weekly basis, bring pages into the workshop for feedback. Using the students’ work and published screenplays as the takeoff points for discussion, the course will cover skills such as building a satisfying narrative arc, developing characters, writing a description that transports the reader, and creating dialogue that sounds natural and specific to each character.

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Related Disciplines

Screenwriting: Revision

Intermediate , Small seminar—Spring

Once you have your first draft, that’s when the writing begins! Revision is a process that differs from writer to writer. Some people may have to rewrite their screenplays from scratch. Others may find that they have plot holes that need fixing. Still others may find that their work is lacking excitement on the page. Plot, character, dialogue, action—so many different things go into completing a first draft that they are seldom all done well. Good cinematic writing is often sacrificed on the altar of just-getting-it-done. This course seeks to help writers take their work to the next level of polish. This small workshop is for writers who have previously written or are halfway through their feature-length screenplays. The workshop will focus on giving and receiving critical feedback to help the writer improve his/her screenplay in terms of its style, format, and structure. Students will review each other’s work—and also the work of produced screenwriters to see how the pros do it.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Screenwriting: Structuring and Writing the Narrative Feature Film

Open , Seminar—Fall

At first glance, narrative screenplay writing can seem restrictive and rigid; but once a writer learns the structural paradigms, those same parameters can actually free up the artist in untold ways. This writing workshop will focus on building strong bones for your feature-length, narrative screenplay. What makes a screenplay unique is not solely the structure but, rather, the artist’s point of view on the world; however, concept, character, setting, dialogue, and action come to the forefront when embedded in a sound, reliable framework. Weekly writing assignments will explore everything from generating and developing a robust concept to building characters and to outlining a plot that will deliver a satisfying film viewing experience. After a rigorous outlining process, students will begin to write pages and present them in the workshop. Students will learn to give and receive helpful critical feedback. Some screenwriting experience is helpful but not required for this course.

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Introduction to Filmmaking: Where to Put the Camera

Open , Seminar—Fall

Camera placement is one of the film director’s primary responsibilities; but to the beginning filmmaker, that can feel like an arbitrary and daunting task. This course will demystify the filmmaking process by giving students the opportunity to experiment with directing through a series of targeted shooting exercises. Through practice, students will learn how to place the camera to give the greatest impact to their narratives. During this workshop, students will watch and analyze each other’s exercises, learn how to become active film viewers, and give useful critical feedback. For their conference work, students will be required to produce a short narrative film. They will write the screenplay, cast and direct actors, draw floor plans and shot-lists, edit the video on Final Cut Pro, and screen the final product for the class. This class is not a history or theory class but, rather, a hands-on workshop that gives students a taste of all aspects of visual storytelling.

Faculty

Screenwriting: Finishing The First Draft of Your Feature Film

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

Sometimes writing is fun, and sometimes writing is just hard work. This course builds on the foundation of the fall course, Structuring and Writing the Narrative Feature Film, and will help students face both probabilities by shepherding them through a completed first draft of their feature-length screenplay. Having an entire script in hand provides the reader with a unique overview of a story’s structure and thematic concerns that may get lost in the moment-to-moment writing of the script. Of course, every student will have his or her own writing process; but in this course, we will push each student through to the end. Students will rely heavily on their outlines from first semester (or materials developed in other related courses) in order to form a page budget and writing schedule. Students will also learn revision skills that will help them put their best foot forward in their early drafts. Students will present their pages biweekly to the workshop and hone their editorial skills by giving and receiving helpful critical feedback.

Faculty

Making the Genre Film: Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

Working within a genre can greatly assist the fledgling filmmaker by suggesting content and stylistic elements, thereby freeing the artist to focus on self-expression. This is a hands-on production course focused on producing genre films. Our class discussions and video exercises will explore various ideas present in the so-called “lesser genres” of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy: the idea of the “monster,” man/woman vs. society suspense, fear, sexual politics, and repression, as well as the smart use of special effects and other strategies for the independent filmmaker working in the genre. In addition to class exercises, students will each produce and direct a short video project for their conference work.

Faculty