Be mentored in creating a piece of work for your portfolio.

There are no available registration dates at this time.

Note: This class will be held in a live, online format using the Zoom Platform.
Class meets Tuesdays, 4-7pm ET for six sessions.

As filmmakers, the most valuable thing we can show to someone who might want to work with us is a strong portfolio. Whether you are seeking to be hired for a video production job, or want to showcase your talents to potential clients or collaborators, they will want to see your past work. And the best thing about creating “spec” work for your portfolio is that you get to choose the story you want to tell! This course is an opportunity to simultaneously build new skills as a filmmaker, and be guided through the creation of a portfolio film.

We will examine the key phases of creating a film, starting with finding and conceptualizing an idea, and considering what shape it might take. As part of our exploration, we will screen a variety of short films in an array of styles and genres, break scenes down and discuss choices that the filmmakers have made. We’ll consider Pre-Visualization for various types of projects. When do we shot-list? When do we storyboard? When don’t we? We’ll also consider the value of cinema verité, and letting things happen in-the-moment vs. having shots and lighting planned to a T. Learn how to get the most compelling material out of an interview. We will cover cinematography and the many decisions we might make with the camera.  Examine the role of sound: effective techniques to capture it and the possibilities of using it as a powerful storytelling tool. Finally, we will discuss editing theory and practice: the phases of workflow, and most importantly, the crucial storytelling that happens in the edit room. 

We will  explore the dynamics of working with clients. How to find them, budget a project, flesh out a creative vision, and find opportunities for strong storytelling which they may or may not see. 

Class periods are opportunities to learn new dynamics as well as to network with your classmates, share your individual filmmaking journey, where you are, where you want to go, and discuss the progress of your films. In addition to in-class discussion, you will have the opportunity to meet 1:1 with Tom outside of class to be mentored through your project in its various phases, including bringing your edit from assembly to final cut. 

The first two weeks of the course will  allow you to flesh out your idea. The final four weeks will be your opportunity to produce, shoot, and edit your piece. Students should plan to do the bulk of their shooting outside of class hours. The final class period will culminate with a screening and celebration of the work.

Students may explore documentary, spec-commercial, music video, narrative, or experimental film. Students working in lyrical or expressionistic forms are also welcome to join.

View examples of past student work in similar courses taught by Tom:

El Foguito (Created by Dave Backlin)
Aled Lewis, Furniture Maker (Created by Jacklyn Grad & Tillie Marsh)
Somedays (created by Jenny Johnson)

Difficulty level: Intermediate – Students who wish to take this course should have a basic technical understanding of video shooting and editing. 

As this class will be held online, students will need to own their own cameras, audio tools, and editing software. The instructor will happily advise any student wishing to make a gear purchase.

NOTE: This class is a great follow-up to “Nonfiction DSLR & Mirrorless Cinematography“, “2-Day: Nonfiction Cinematography & Editing”, or “2-Day: DSLR for Video”. 

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Instructor: Tom Ryan

A New England-based editor and filmmaker, Tom has worked extensively in the worlds of commercial, corporate, and documentary film. He has freelanced in Production for over 9 years and is a co-founder of the Maine-based Production company, Tailwind Media. As an editor, his work in fiction and documentary film has been shown in numerous festivals. In addition to workshops, he currently teaches documentary film in the 30-Week Professional Certificate program at Maine Media College. Affiliated with MMW+C for over 6 years, Tom is passionate about teaching storytelling to students of all career paths and skill levels.