As consumers of film, we often wonder how it all gets put together. Take La La Land, for example. How did this director find these actors to make this film, with this set and this musical score? There are a lot of intricate, moving parts.
Luckily, at Penn, we can take a course that teaches all the nitty–gritty of the film business—all the way from the screenplay to the screen. "Art and Business of Film" (CIMS 285) states in its syllabus that it explores "how a screenplay is conceptualized and developed, the role of agency relationships in the film business, and the financing, production, direction, distribution, exhibition and marketing of both independent and studio films." The course’s intention, quite simply, is not only to help students actualize their creative dreams of making a film, but also to teach them how to sell and pitch their ideas to a heavily saturated market.
While it might seem like more than enough content to cram into a semester, current teaching assistant and former Street staffer Hallie Brookman (C’17) explains how it the class is broken down.
"Students get divided into teams, and each team has to come up with movie ideas," she says. "The top four voted teams go on, and everyone else becomes an aspiring producer trying to pitch themselves to become the films' producers. Vote again, and everyone else becomes agents and managers." While roles are formally delegated, Hallie explains that students are exposed to every part in the films' development and advertising process. While showing me the Twitter and Instagram page from when she marketed her own film from the class, Hallie exclaims, "When people say it takes a long time to make a movie, it's definitely true."
The class also has its share of star power. CIMS 285 welcomes speakers, like current executive producer of The Goldbergs Lew Schneider (C'83), who explain their current work and experiences in the entertainment industry.
This course is highly recommended by the students who have taken it. Elvire Audi (C’17), director of her Art and Business filmThe Social Animal, says, "Art and Business is one of the best classes I've taken at Penn. Kathy and Emory [Van Cleve] are so helpful and relatable and have a great teaching dynamic. It's super inclusive so if you don't have much media or film experience, there is space for you to learn and grow."
"Be on the lookout though," Audi warns. "The level [of work] is getting higher and higher every year..."
And if you want to check out a film from the class, some of the projects can be found below:
The Social Animal
Directed by Elvire Audi
Written by Adam Ginsberg
Directed by Barry Oshiba
Written by Mike Lobman