Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

IFMS 263 Film-Making in Rome

Spring 2012

Course Description

IFMS 263 "Filmmaking in Rome" is a hands-on introduction to writing, directing and editing the short film.  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, and includes a field trip to Rome's famed Cinecitta film studios.

By conceiving, planning and executing a short narrative film or documentary, students explore how to choose an appropriate subject, how to develop that idea into the classic three act structure, and how to edit, polish and ultimately bring to market that finished product. Students will work in groups to develop, produce, direct and do post-production of a story up to ten minutes in length.  This short film subject will be chosen via class participation prior to shooting.  We will also engage in analysis and critique, and consider the potential marketing and distribution of short films through the Internet.  There are no prerequisites for this class, enrollment is for anyone - it's recommended the student be familiar with the basics of shooting and editing a short film, whether reading up on it, or making short films via YouTube, iFilm, Google Video, Yahoo Films, or other short film sites.

During the semester students will be required to read a film script for class discussion.



To provide students with practical experience in television/video production of short films.


Students will work in teams, films will be shot on video. Number of films will depend on the number of students enrolled. Maximum length: 10 minutes.  If two or more students co-direct a piece, Maximum length is 15 minutes.

  •             Learn the basic principles of narrative story telling for film.
  •             Develop skills while expressing creativity through video production.
  •             Gain an understanding of general video practices, across various contexts.
  •             Learn to work collaboratively

Recommended that students have a background in editing, and/or digital video production, but not required.  Recommended that students bring their own cameras, photo cameras and laptop editing equipment, also not required. Those students who bring their own equipment are welcome to work on their own, otherwise, students will work in teams and share directing, editing duties.








Tentative Schedule:


Week 1 – Introduction. General discussion of student projects. Assignment of short films (via the net, or DVD) to be watched and critiqued. Getting familiar with scriptwriting. Brainstorming of story ideas.  Marketing and distribution of the short film, via the marketplace, or online DIY distribution. Viewing previous student pieces for evaluation. Students will learn to write the short script (bringing a script and/or short story in public domain that can be adapted is advisable) and direct actors, which will either be other students or actors from Rome, depending on availability. We will discuss visual style, using locations and elements that are easily accessible.  Students will pair up into teams.

Week 2-3-4 – From the idea to the final script. Students will work in group on the storyline and 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.


Week 5-6 Script breakdown and analysis. All final scripts will be analyzed to create a production schedule.  Review documentation; talent releases, insurance, safety, etc. Possible script breakdown or lighting and camera class. Class presentations – pre-production (production schedule, budgets due)  Shooting period begins.


Week 7-8-9 Shooting period - screen dailies in class. Rough cuts in process – Class discussion about rough cuts. Every film team is required to show 3-5 minutes of edited footage in class. Each student is required to present some of the work they’ve done, whether directing, shooting, or editing.

Week 10-13. Editing. Shooting period, and then individual Rough Cut sessions with students or teams. Sign up for one hour individual evaluations of your progress. Important to add music and work on your sound mix during this period, as your sound work will be included in your final grade.

Fine cuts due – no picture changes without permission from instructor

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 14

Final screening date TBD.



Students are required to bring their own DV tape.  Tapes may be purchased in Rome, however it’s recommended that students bring at least ten blank DV tapes with them.  Also, a standard stereo headset, with a mini-plug, is required per student to check on sound levels while recording, and should be brought with.

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

A laptop with editing software loaded.  If you work on a Mac, Final Cut Pro is preferred, but for a PC there is Microsoft’s “Windows Movie Maker” is free at their website.  Avid Express, Adobe Premiere, Pinnacle are also acceptable.  Preferable if you’ve practiced on editing some footage before you begin your work. 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.  If you have no camera, you’ll be required to work in teams, and schedule time for camera use.

The final video will be graded on technical achievement, communication, creativity and overall effort per person. Consistency in attendance and assistance on other projects constitutes the second area of evaluation. Note: it is mandatory you turn in all the paperwork, attend classes regularly and turn in a finished film.  This will result in an average grade.  In order to get an above average grade, 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 is equally compelling, comedic or sheds new light on a subject.  The final screening, and the audience’s response to it, will weigh heavily on the final grade.



The requirements in the third area of evaluation consists of a PRODUCTION NOTEBOOK containing:

1. Critiques of short films. 

A number of films will be made available for viewing and will be discussed. Students are required to write a few paragraphs about the content and delivery of the short,  and why the filmmakers were or weren’t successful in making their film.

2.  Project description:

Includes a description of your individual class project, a working title, your name, and contact details. Also how you plan to shoot this story - where you plan to shoot,  how you will obtain permits, etc. if necessary.

3. Production Diary

A compilation of all the notes, production schedules, changes or fixes that are made on a daily basis through production.  This could be in a tabulated folder, or a production folder - but basically a visual record of everything you’ve put into the project - names and numbers of crew, actors, permission from the actors or locations, insurance, permits, etc.




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.