Towards the Cinemagical…Ala SF State Cinema

Yeah! I have been invited back for the second year to teach Cinema 506:Cinematheque Management at San Francisco State University. I realize I write this the day before my final class, which is the day before our HUGE, BIG, GRAND event, the SF State Film Finals…

SF State Film Finals 2011

Well, time and space, it is a myth…so indulge me, come back to the future and I will tell you more about this Cinemagical class.

Towards the Cinemagical: The Class

Cinema 506:Cinematheque Management is an elective class that examines the factors which film/video exhibitors work with when bringing media works to an audience: the programming, the environment, the inclusion of adjacency events (for example, panels, speakers, live musical performance), technical and social issues, and the role of the audience. In the class we explore traditional and non-traditional forms of programming and exhibition, examine how technology has changed the role of both the viewer and audience and also get up close and personal with local bay area film events and programmers.

The class takes a hands-on approach to putting on a film event and produce the MFA Spring Show, Film Previews and Film Finals. Special attention is paid to practical aspects of marketing and publicity, press releases, event coordination, and community outreach and promotion.

I feel inclined to make this note now. I have renamed the class Towards the Cinemagical. That’s the name of the website blog, the class refers to themselves as the cinemagical crew, I even have guest speakers refer to it as such. The administration may not be privy to this note, but now you know also.

Assignments that Align

All the assignments were intended to give students an instructional and dimensional experience of cinema programming and exhibition. Bearing in mind that not everyone gets to dance in the curator role, and that there are many elements that go into cinema exhibition, I wanted to offer assignments that at one allowed students creative and embodied expression and also gave them a zoom focus straight into the field.

This year students once again got to put on their Curator boots via the tried and true Curate an Experience project. In addition to giving students a direct experience with curation, this was my subtle yet pronounced way to get students versed in how to use open source technologies like wordpress and oh, ahs, ins and outs of embedding photos, video, hyperlinks. And of course writing, presentation and my favorites, creative expression and the dance with fun and voila -> delight.

For you, a curated list of some of 2011 curated experiences:
An Ancient Buzz a.k.a. The Bee’s Kneezzz…zz..z…
Explosions, they are fun
The phrase is French for “Deadly Woman
Film Exhibition Case Study: Why is the Fall show more “finale” than the Spring Show?
98520: Aberdeen, Washington
Seeing without your Eyes

In the spirit of peer to peer learning, students got into teams and took Notes from the Field: Film Curation and Exhibition in Action. For this assignment, I did assign specific “venues” and “topics”, trying to balance out what we would learn from our guest speaker series, and also investigate multi-faceted festival type events as well non-traditional exhibition approaches.  Presentations were made on Alternative Exhibition Spaces SXSWHot Docs and Online Media Space (Youtube, Vimeo, View Change).

Guest Speaker Series

What better way to get up close and personal with leaders in the field then to invite them to the class! We were extremely honored to have a full rooster of amazing guest speakers. Some of our cinemagical guests included: Masashi Niwano and Theresa Christine (Center for Asian American Media/San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival ), Jen Cox, Linda Butler and Hilary Hart (San Francisco Film Society/San Francisco International Film Festvial), Linda Blackaby (Independent Curator and Consultant), Anita Monga (San Francisco Silent Film Festival), Maïa Cybelle Carpenter (Filmmaker, Curator, Canyon Cinema Board President), Santhosh Daniels (The Global Film Initiative) and Ido Haar (Filmmaker, SFFS 2011 Filmaker in Residence). In addition to giving first hand accounts of  their various affiliate media organizations,  our esteemed guest speakers also shared personal trajectories of how they found their way into the film curation and exhibition world, as well as lessons and gem nuggets they have learned along the way. Stay tuned for video excerpts from some of these presentations!

The Big Event

And last but not least, the 2011 Film Finals!

This year the class decided to raise the bar-  inside and out. Instead of detailing how we went all google form and green on our submissions process,  instructional on how to submit HD or high quality SD  and colored with numbers (the ap) with our stats, I’ll sway the narrative back to some of the more visible elements. In addition to the regular program schedule, we decided to invite CelloJoe– a beat boxing cellist,  to play live at the reception, ask local organizations and companies to get involved and support student filmmaking, raise money for cinema department equipment via a raffle (prizes by the aforementioned community support) and make and sell DVDS and tee shirts.  We even got Academy Award Winner Jeffrey Friedman to come talk at our event! Great student films were always a given, so the students really took to heart and action how to make the Film Finals a dimensional experience by increasing the attention given to these  “peripheral” event elements. Pulling off this event is a collaborative effort for sure- from the student producers to the cinema department staff, faculty and students who make up this vibrant and down right special college cinema community. And there is a beyond-  the guest speakers who inspired us, the sponsors who supported us, and the audience that comes to co-create this spectacular spectacle. As I email off the final revised program script a fellow teacher notes, “impressed with this organization”. I laugh. If I took a screenshot of all the fb closed group messages or chats alone, we could make a lengthy @24fps animated film.

Film Finals is an important and enriching part of the SF State cinema student experience. For the community beyond that comes to the event, they too are invited into this energized charm and heartfelt thrill of the night. With each year we aim to make this event better and better, and as we say in my class….towards the cinemagical.


Wonder why we call it Film Finals when it is our big end of the year Film Showcase? Well I’ve got to save some secrets for the big event. All will be revealed in the print program.

But for non-teaser links:
Class website Towards the Cinemagical (includes full assignments and class schedule)
Official 2011 Film Finals Event site.

And…the 2011 Film Finals Trailer Against the Grain: Beyond the Budget


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