Hello Students! This is a special page that I made just for you. Welcome from the University of North Texas Department of Media Arts! Whether you are a UNT media arts major or anyone eager to learn more about the art and craft of film making, this is for you.
Welcome to the University of North Texas and the Department of Media Arts!
That video was shot and edited by Brian Roth and narrated by Phyllis Slocum, one of the many excellent faculty members here at the UNT Department of Media Arts. I’m very proud and excited to be working among them.
In the past I have taught courses like: Introduction to Audio and Introduction to Film (both MRTS 2210) Introduction to Radio, Television and Film Writing (MRTS 2010) and Film Styles Production (MRTS 32300).
If you’re in one of those classes, welcome! Not too long ago, I was also an undergraduate at UNT wanting to be an media arts major and having to take these very same courses. This page is full of my favorite things that I wish I had known about when I was in your shoes.
I hope you enjoy these programs as much as I do! Most of it is freely available online for anyone who wants to learn more about media arts. These are excellent study materials.
I have made several YouTube playlists that I regularly update and add to. Think of it as a free, online film school made of the best educational and instructional videos on the web.
- Cinema Technica: This will let you dive straight into hands-on filmmaking tips and techniques. I shoot documentaries with a DSLR and this playlist reflects that, but watching these videos will make you a better filmmaker of any kind.
- Cinema Esoterica: This is a crash course in analyzing film and understanding the aesthetics of cinema. This will help you think critically about films and be able to describe why they affect us, which will improve your ability to write essays too.
- Cinema Politica: These videos will encourage you to think more critically about the institutions, ideologies and economics that govern how our media is made and how we can become more informed and ethical media makers and consumers.
- Filmmaker IQ: John Hess produces these fantastic video lectures covering the fundamental theories, science and techniques of filmmaking. These are excellent study aids that can refresh your memory before an exam.
I can also recommend several good documentaries available online or at the UNT Media Library. (I have included the library call numbers). All of these are interview-driven, tlaking-head documentaries that will help you to put a particular face to a lot of important names that you will become more familiar with during the course of your studies here in the department of media arts.
- The Story of Film: An Odyssey (DVD 13424) is an excellent 15-part documentary series about the history of cinema. It’s like having a well-narrated, comprehensive video textbook of film history and it’s available on Netflix. (Now on YouTube!)
- Ways of Seeing by John Berger is a four-part BBC television series and I consider it required viewing for anyone studying art of any kind. Many universities curriculums are built around this very important hypertext.
- For the Love of Movies (DVD 11087R) is available on Netflix and UNT Libraries’ VOD. It’s a good history of film criticism that will introduce you to some very important writers that framed our early understanding of film theory and appreciation.
- Cinematographer Style (DVD 9155) interviews some of cinema’s most celebrated cinematographers and directors of photography about their craft. Unless you want to buy the DVD you’ll have to check it out at the UNT Media Library.
- Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (DVD 1561) is an earlier documentary about cinematography from the 90’s that focuses more on the history of motion photography but interviews some of the same people as Cinematographer Style.
- The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing (DVD 4805) is a documentary about the art and history of editing for motion pictures that is often played for undergrads in this department. I remember first seeing it as a freshman at UNT and really enjoying it.
- This Film is Not Yet Rated (DVD 6707) takes a very critical look at the Motion Picture Association of America, the private organization responsible giving movies ratings like PG-13, R, NC-17 etc. It raises some interesting questions about industry censorship.
- Side by Side is a documentary comparing and contrasting different perspectives on film and digital video. Unfortunately, it’s not available for free online or at the UNT Media Library, but it is available on Netflix. It’s not required viewing but it’s worth watching.
- Rip! A Remix Manifesto (DVD 11153) No matter how you feel about copyright, piracy and intellectual property this documentary is required viewing for all media-makers living in the digital age. Very important and challenging questions are asked here.
- Filmspotting with Adam Kempenaar and Josh Larsen is the most enjoyable and intellectually satisfying movie review podcast I have ever come across. Students and teachers should aim for this level of discussion in the classroom.
- You Must Remember This by Karina Longworth is beautifully produced and explores some of the most fascinating stories in the history of cinema. It is very well-written and the tasteful use of music, sound effects and voice-over is just wonderful to listen to.
If you bookmark this Citation Machine you will never ever be confused about how to format your bibliography ever again. Input the information you have and will produce the correct MLA, APA or whatever citations you need for your papers. It’s that easy.
Celtx is a free screenwriting program that also does a lot more. I first starting using it when I was an undergrad. You can take your written screenplay (or treatment or whatever) and use it to make schedules, shot lists, call-sheets and more that are all synchronized with the original creative document. It won’t make you a better writer but this is a very powerful organizing tool that will save you a lot of time. I highly recommend it.
In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch is a very short and very readable primer on editing. You may remember him from The Cutting Edge. This book is required reading in advanced editing classes at UNT. It’s definitely worn reading even if you don’t take that class. Make sure you get the second edition which includes his thoughts and (accurate) predictions about digital filmmaking and editing. It’s the entire second half of the book.
Rebel Without a Crew is also very short and very readable. It’s the early filmmaking diary of Texas’ own Robert Rodriguez during the making of his first movie. Most of it takes place in Texas and I remember reading it as an undergrad and relating to it a lot. It’s very inspiring and encouraging to read knowing how successful he has become today.
Douglas Rushkoff is a media theorist and one of my favorite authors. His writing is enjoyable, insightful and always a little ahead of its time. He’s made PBS Frontline documentaries like The Persuaders, Merchants of Cool and Generation Like which can all be viewed via the UNT Libraries Video on Demand services. I’d literally recommend everything he’s ever written, but for today’s new media student I’d pick out these three:
- Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now
- Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age (This one’s very short)
- Coercion: Why We Listen to What “They” Say
I could list so many more, but this page is mostly about materials that are freely available online. After you’ve bookmarked all this great stuff, go to the library and look for these too. These are my favorite books about filmmaking and media.
- Cinematography by Blain Brown
- The Short Screenplay by Dan Gurkis
- Film Directing Shot by Shot by Steven Katz
- Film School: A Practical Guide to an Impractical Decision by Jason B. Kohl
- What They Don’t Teach You at Film School by Camille Landau and Tiare White
- On Directing Film by David Mamet
- Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud’ (One of the greatest books about art ever)
- Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan
- In The Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch
- Rebel Without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez
- On Photography by Susan Sontag
- Hitchcock by Francois Truffaut
If you somehow found the time to watch, read or listen to half of the things on this page you will have (hopefully) learned more than enough to be a great filmmaker. These are just some of my favorite things that I’ve discovered after ten years of geeking-out about cinema. I really do hope it’s useful to your continued education.