Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

COMM 299 Filmmaking in Rome

Fall 2015

COMM 299

Themes in Film and Intermediate Digital Media: FILMMAKING IN ROME

Fall 2015


Course Description

COMM 299 "Themes in Film and Intermediate Digital Media" is a hands-on introduction to writing, directing and editing short films.  Students participate in the development, production, direction and post-production of a short subject up to ten minutes in length. 

The class has no pre-requisites besides the desire to make a short film or documentary.

This course introduces students to the technical, conceptual, and aesthetic skills involved in video production through the single camera mode of production. Still the most dominant mode of film and video production, the single camera mode places an emphasis on using the camera to fullest capacity of artistic expression. In addition to the multiple skills and concepts involved with the camera, the course also introduces students to the principles and technologies of lighting, audio recording and mixing, and non-linear digital video editing. Special focus is given to producing content for successful web distribution.


This course will teach students how to communicate ideas, concepts and stories using the artform of video making while providing them with an intensive overview of the entire filmmaking process. Students will work in team as a production unit to produce a short narrative or documentary film for DVD and web distribution. 


By the end of this course, you will understand how a short film is made from conception through distribution, and you will know how to develop a story for maximum audio-visual impact.  You will gain hands-on experience of all stages of film production: from producing a script, operating a camera, recording sound, editing and crafting special effects, with the goal of producing a polished video to be broadcast on the web.  At the end of this course, you should have all the necessary skills to begin producing professional-level work for the media industry as well as a polished piece of work for your demo reel.



20%- Screenplay

20%- Preproduction Package

40%- Short film project

20%- Participation: students must attend class and must work on group video projets. Questions are welcomed. Only one absence allowed for the whole semesters.


Tentative Schedule:

Week 1  Introduction. General discussion of student projects. Brainstorming of story ideas.  Overview of different genres. Viewing short films and student pieces for evaluation. We will discuss visual styles, using locations and elements that are easily accessible. Students will pair up into teams. Assignment of short films (via the net, or DVD) to be watched and critiqued.

Week 2 From the idea to the storyline. Getting familiar with scriptwriting, learning the  fundamentals of a screenplay. Students will work in group on the development of the storyline.

Week 3 Cinecittà Studios guided tour to understand the secrets of Great Italian cinema.

Week 4 From the storyline to the final script. Student presentations of their projects/works in progress/treatments or outlines of individual projects due. Each student will make a presentation, and via review, films will be chosen from those treatments/scripts. Script breakdown and analysis: all final scripts will be analyzed to create a production schedule.

Week 5 Camera, light and sound class. Overview of shooting and editing styles.   Hands-on exercises on camera, light and sound recording.

Week 6 Class presentations of pre-production materials. Screenplays and production schedules due. Storyboards optional. Class discussion and final feedback on production materials before shooting. Midterm

Week 7-8-9  Shooting period. Film teams will screen dailies in class for feedback. Every film team is required to show 3-5 minutes of footage in class. Each student is required to present some of the work they’ve done, whether directing or shooting. Demo on how to edit with Final Cut Pro.

Week 10-11-12  Editing. Film teams will showing class rough cuts in process for feedback. Every film team is required to show 3-5 minutes of edited footage in class. Sign up for individual rough cut sessions with students or teams. Important to add music and work on your sound mix during this period, as your sound work will be included in your final grade. Final project with final sound mix due. Minor tweaking allowed until the final day to turn in projects. Final edits will require a finished picture and mixed sound track.   

Week 13

Final screening (students’ film festival).

Week 14

Marketing and distribution of the short film via the real and virtual marketplaces, festivals or online channels.





Students should prepare a checklist before coming, and the following items should be considered: 

A laptop with editing software loaded.  Macs are preferred. If you have no laptop, then computer time will be provided, when available.

A digital camera, it’s up to you which format you prefer, the US standard is NTSC, and the European standard is PAL.  Our cameras and equipment are PAL, however if you bring your own equipment, it’s preferable to bring your own editing equipment to support that equipment. 

The final video will be graded on technical achievement, communication, creativity and overall effort per person. Consistency in attendance and contribution to groups projects constitutes the second area of evaluation.

Note: it is mandatory to turn in all the paperwork, attend classes regularly and turn in a finished film.  Students are required to stretch their talents as filmmakers, to present their idea in a fresh, new perspective, putting their hearts and soul into the project, and doing their best to make a compelling film about a subject matter that sheds new light on a subject. 




The submission of material authored by another person but represented as the student’s own  work, whether that material is paraphrased or copied in verbatim or near-verbatim form.  Improper acknowledgment of sources in essays, papers or audiovisual projects.  Acquisition of term papers, audiovisual projects or other assignments from another source and the subsequent presentation of those materials as the student’s own work, or providing term papers or assignments that another student submits as his/her own work. DO NOT DOWNLOAD VIDEO CLIPS OR PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE INTERNET UNLESS YOU HAVE WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM THE CREATOR OF THE WORK OR PROOF IT IS IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.


Loyola is fully committed to safety and sensible risk management; every student will be required to adhere to all safety and risk management policies. Any footage that violates safety policies, or local rules and regulations, will be disallowed from final projects and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.  Any footage acquired or produced during a violation of these policies will not be accepted for, and is ineligible for, a grade.