Film

About our program

The Film Department was organized and is run by James Dziedzic, one of America's most prolific and active independent film writer/directors. Since the inception of the program, the St. Michael's Film team has won the TAPPS State competition, as well as other film festival awards around the country. 

The St. Michael’s Catholic Academy film program follows a full four-year curriculum, modeled after university programs. Students create projects from scratch: they start from an idea and result in a finished film. All projects are student-led.
  • Film & TV I: A film and television studies class that uses examples of classic and important cinema to instruct students on how to digest long-form visual storytelling.
  • Screenwriting: Students learn how to write for a visual medium by creating a short film and a web series pilot.
  • Film & TV Production: This course focuses on the technical skills of how to shoot, light and record sound.
  • Editing: In this course, students take related images and cut them into a single narrative using, in part, Walter Murch's philosophy on editing. Murch wrote the text, “In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing.”
  • Film Critique: How to write about and evaluate the strength and importance of cinema.
  • Varsity Film - The Competition Class: Students create the school vlog “Sader View” and original short films.
Film instructor Jim Dziedzic is an expert in the field. In addition to teaching at St. Michael’s, he works in the industry, speaks at university film schools and film festivals, and runs the highly regarded Austin Revolution Film Festival. His expertise allows St. Michael’s students exposure and access to other experts in the field.
 
In addition to courses offered, St. Michael's hosts an annual Student Film Festival that is attended by student filmmakers from all over the country.
 

Film Studies Curriculum

List of 6 items.

  • Editing

    Film editing requires taking related images and cutting into a single narrative using, in part, Walter Murch's philosophy on editing. Students will create films using Adobe Premiere and related applications.
  • Film & TV I Curriculum Guide

    Course Title: Film & TV 1
    Prerequisites: none
    Course Description:This course is designed to introduce the study of film, including its history, genre types and introduction to criticism.
    Course Goals and Objectives
    1. Understand the history of film.
    2. Introduction of different visual story telling techniques. 
    3. Introduction and exploration of genre theory and forms.
    4. Understand the history, development and impact of television.
    5. Introduction and exploration of genre theory and forms.
    Unit One: Film History
     
    Focus of the unit: The beginning and development of the film industry from Méliès to JJ Abrams.

    Major terms/material to be covered: Frames per second (FPS), visual storytelling, studio system, auteur theory.

    Skill(s) students will be developing/mastering: 
    • Proper terminology and reference in relation to film history.
    • Knowledge base and foundation in film history.
    • Thorough understanding of the different stages of film development including, but not limited to: the silent era, introduction of sound, WW2, advent of television, studio system, rise of the auteur
    Assessments/Evaluations/Projects:  
    • Assessment on terminology, development of the industry
    • Essay on the impact of the film industry as it adapts to current technology.
    Unit Two: The Auteurs: Curtiz, Hitchcock, Spielberg

    Focus of the unit: How three directors changed the course of film by breaking from the rules of the studio system and created films with specific styles, themes and tones. 

    Major terms/material to be covered: Auteur, visual style, thematic elements, dolly zoom

    Skill(s) students will be developing/mastering: Identifying different work based on nuanced elements such as: visual style, story structure, camera technique, score, ect
     
    Assessments/Evaluations/Projects: Quizzes, graded roundtable discussions and essays.

    Unit Three: Film Genre Theory
    Focus of the unit: Students will look at several film genres (Westerns, horror, comedy, drama) and identify rules that help us classify film.

    Major terms/material to be covered: Genre rules, the ‘cowboy’ 
    Skill(s) students will be developing/mastering: Students will to identify and classify films into genres and explore how those genres are developed, deconstructed and renewed. 

    Assessments/Evaluations/Projects: Quizzes, graded roundtable discussions and a comparative essay. 

    Unit Four: History of Television
    Focus of the unit:  This unit covers the advent of television and how it affected several aspects of American culture. 

    Major terms/material to be covered: television, commercial, episodic, serial

    Skill(s) students will be developing/mastering: Understand how one piece of technology has the ability to affect so many areas of a culture (entertainment, politics, social awareness)

    Assessments/Evaluations/Projects:  Quizzes, graded roundtable discussions and essays.

    Unit Five:  TV Genre Theory
    Focus of the unit: How does the nature of commercial vs non-commercial television affect genres in visual story telling. 

    Major terms/material to be covered: sitcom, procedural, mini series

    Skill(s) students will be developing/mastering: Identify and evaluate different story telling structures and styles. 

    Assessments/Evaluations/Projects
    Unit Six: Texas On Screen
    Focus of the unit: We’ll look at how the mythical Texas is represented on screen across movies and television (Giant and Lonesome Dove.) 

    Major terms/material to be covered: Oil boom, cattle drive, ranger, 

    Skill(s) students will be developing/mastering: Separating truth from legend as we look at the representation of Texas. 

    Assessments/Evaluations/Projects: Final essay.

    FINAL SEMESTER PROJECT: In lieu of a final exam, we will have a final project presentation. You will all research a film made BEFORE 1990. You will report on:
    • Director
    • Lead actors
    • How much did the movie make?
    • Critical reception
    • Why It’s an ‘important’ film
    • On set BTS stories
    • Show a trailer or school appropriate clip
  • Film Critique

    Saying "I like a film" or "I don't like a film," is valuless without exploring why. Students will look at films substantively, learning to look for nuances in storytelling and fiilm making craft and then making informed assessments on a film's value.
  • Film Production Curriculum Guide

    Course Title: Film Production
    Prerequisites: Film & TV 1
    Course Description: This course is designed to introduce the study of film, including its history, genre types and introduction to criticism.

    Course Goals and Objectives
    1. Understand the science of film.
    2. Understand the preproduction process.
    3. Understand the production process.
    4. Shoot, edit short films
    Unit Outlines
    Unit One: The Science of Film
    Focus of the unit: Students will learn how film works, from how still images become ‘moving pictures’ to the use of sound and color in post-production. 

    Major terms/material to be covered: Frames per second (FPS), visual storytelling.

    Skill(s) students will be developing/mastering: 
    • Understanding the science about how film works.
    • Understanding how cameras and lenses work
    • Understanding sound recording.
    Assessments/Evaluations/Projects:  
    • Quiz
    • Oral quiz on equipment and its us
    Unit Two: Pre-Production
    Focus of the unit: Students will evaluate a script to determine what is needed to make the film. Students will evaluate and make creative decisions regarding use of cameras, shot list, set design, costume design

    Major terms/material to be covered: shot list, f-stop, 50mm lens

    Skill(s) students will be developing/mastering: Students will be able to plan a shoot from receiving the script up to the first shot. 
     
    Assessments/Evaluations/Projects: Evaluation of production plan.

    Unit Three: FilmProduction
    Focus of the unit: Students will execute their short film plan.

    Major terms/material to be covered: Director, AD, boom operator, sound mixer 

    Skill(s) students will be developing/mastering: Students will work as a production team, under pressure, to accomplish their shoot staying on schedule and on budget.  

    Assessments/Evaluations/Projects: Roundtable discussion and evaluation of their shoot process.  

    Unit Four:Post Production

    Focus of the unit: Students will take the raw footage and sound files and form a finished short film. 

    Major terms/material to be covered: non-linear editing, J cut, L cut, jump cut, ADR

    Skill(s) students will be developing/mastering: Students will make editing choices as a team shaping the film from the rough cut to a finished project with color correction and music.
     
    Assessments/Evaluations/Projects: Evaluation of post-production process.
     
    FINAL SEMESTER PROJECT: In lieu of a final exam, students will be evaluated on finished films that will be completed and submitted to film festivals. 
     
  • Screenwriting Curriculum Guide

    Course Title: Introduction to Screenwriting
    Prerequisites: Film & TV 1
    Course Description: This course is designed to introduce the skill of writing scripts for film & television.

    Course Goals and Objectives
    1. Understand what a screenplay is.
    2. Understand limits of writing for a visual medium
    3. Understand the script format for film and television
    4. Write a short film script and a portion of a television pilot
    Unit Outlines
    Unit One: Screenwriting 101
    Focus of the unit: What does a screenwriter do? You mean movies are actually WRITTEN?

    Major terms/material to be covered: Visual storytelling and the strengths and limits that come with writing that form. 

    Skill(s) students will be developing/mastering: 
    • Creating a blueprint for writing a movie/TV show
    • Learning to restrict writing to only what is seen and heard
    Assessments/Evaluations/Projects:  
    • Quiz 
    Unit Two: Writing Process for Fil
    Focus of the unit: How does a screenwriter write a script for a feature length movie.  

    Major terms/material to be covered: 3 act-structure, progressive complications, conflict, turning points, beats, pacing

    Skill(s) students will be developing/mastering: Will be able to take an idea for a film, write a synopsis, outline and then a script following the basic 3-act structure for film. 
     
    Assessments/Evaluations/Projects: Evaluation of written work by peers and instructor.

    Unit Three: Writing for TV
    Focus of the unit: Students will take lessons learned from the film portion and apply and adapt to the differences in writing for serialized and episodic television.

    Major terms/material to be covered: Five act structure, commercial, story arcs

    Skill(s) students will be developing/mastering: Students will create a basic script for a pilot episode with plans for a full season. 

    Assessments/Evaluations/Projects: Evaluation of written work by peers and instructor.

    FINAL SEMESTER PROJECT: Students will complete a script for a ten minute short film that will be submitted for contests.
  • Varsity Film

    The competition class. Students create the school's Sader View vlog news program and original short films. 

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st. michael's catholic academy

3000 Barton Creek Boulevard   |   Austin, Texas 78735   |   (512) 328-2323   |   admissions@smca.com
St. Michael's Catholic Academy is mindful of its mission to prepare the student holistically for leadership, service, and decision making consistent with Catholic values; and admit students of any race, color, or national and/or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to the school. St. Michael's Catholic Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and/or ethnic origin, age, or gender in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs. St. Michael's Catholic Academy does not discriminate against students with special needs; a full range of services might not be available.