On September 28, 1895, Auguste and Louis Lumiere privately screened their film Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory in the small southeastern French town of La Ciotat. Three months later, at the Salon Du Indien Grand Café in Paris, the Lumiere brothers premiered their film for the public. This was the birth of cinema.
From the birth of cinema in the late 1800s to the introduction of film theory in the 1950s that disrupted and revolutionized the Hollywood studio system, French cinema continues to change the way we both make and watch movies. It is no surprise that French culture has strongly embedded itself into this medium, as France has been the catalyst for so many cultural revolutions in history. From the salons of the late 1700s to the noetic polities of Paris in the 1900s, France’s contributions to art and culture have led to the country’s standing as a beacon for great minds to congregate, share ideas, and create work that defines various media of expression.
In this course, students put into practice what many great artists and thinkers have done by traveling to France with the express purpose of creating art. After studying the history of French cinema and French culture, students embed themselves in the small town of Berven, located in the Brittany region of France, where they write, produce, and edit three short films. While staying in the La Kerouel, five miles outside of Berven, students write and produce a collection of short films inspired by the town. While on location, students are mentored by cinematographer Brandon Roots, and assistant-director Victor Cantisano. Mentors provide guidance to the student production process, including concept development, storyboarding, script writing, scouting locations, and casting. During Academy time, mentors also conduct lectures and discussion about the artistic process, life in the film industry, screenwriting, directing actors, producing, and cinematography.
On supplemental excursions, students visit points of interest in France, including the University of Toulouse, where they meet fellow film students, to study how French culture and history is an integral characteristic of its film industry. Subsequent to their production in Moissac, students travel to Paris to complete their study of French film with further additional production. In the vein of the Lumiere Brothers’ early productions, students then take what they learned during their time in France and travel to Reykjavik to capture the natural beauties of Iceland through both video and photography.