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For only the second year, the Australian Film Television and Radio School is offering the world’s only Graduate Certificate in Screen Culture, convened by the school’s head of Screen Studies, Dr Karen Pearlman (pictured), who outlines here what it is, why it is and what it will do for participants.

In convening this course I am hoping to create a community of well informed and actively engaged people with an interest in developing and influencing the direction of our screen culture, including production, exhibition and distribution, audiences, experiences, ideas and the level of discourse about what we make, why we make it and who it is for.

The AFTRS Grad Cert in Screen Culture develops students to function in a range of roles, including: critics, commentators, dramaturges, festival directors, teachers, administrators or project officers. It also strengthens and updates the big picture creative thinking of practitioners, especially creative producers.

The focus in this unique Grad Cert in Screen Culture is on ideas and their impact on industry, culture, and audience. It covers the big ideas at work in the process of making a screen production from beginning to end. In each module we look at the history, present and possible futures of development, story, artistic vision, distribution, genres, animation, games, new TV series, mise en scene, sound and editing and ask ‘how do we know when something is a good idea?’

Through discussions, screenings, exercises, guest presentations, research and seminars, students encounter, debate and develop their own ideas about shaping our screen culture.

The AFTRS Graduate Certificate in Screen Culture is for lively and enquiring minds. It builds a community of people who are passionate about the screen, and who want to contribute to strengthening our culture, our ideas and our capacity to speak, write and make an impact. We meet once a week in face to face classes and explore questions of:

*Development - what is it?
*Story - what need does it serve and how does its form change over time?
*Distribution and exhibition - how do they impact on creative productions and stories?
*Voice’ or ‘vision’ – what are these and who has them?
*Mise en scene – what goes in the frame that moves us?
*Genres, games, cinematics, complex tv, and social media – how are these at play in the culture and decisions that affect it?

Students also put ideas and debates into practice by participating and helping to program screen culture events, blogging and responding to other students’ blogs.

Finally, each student undertakes a supervised but self directed research project of their own devising, which might be anything from developing a creative work, to creating a web resource, programming a festival to writing a paper, documenting a process or getting one going.

By the end of this course students should be able to:
• Recognise some of the key forces shaping our screen culture in the past, present and future;
• Employ effective techniques of observation and inquiry to help develop, produce, curate or critique screen work;
• Articulate useful concepts for screen culture and creative practitioners;
• Contribute to creating the Culture in which you want to live!

Entry into the course will depend on demonstrated communications skills, particularly ability to write effectively, which is why we ask for a sample of the applicant’s writing (a review or an appreciation of a key figure), in the application form. We also look for a demonstrated interest in some aspect of screen culture, such as writing reviews or blogs, or volunteering at festivals or events, or doing research for projects, or working in a funding body or something else in the area.

A degree or diploma in a related field is useful, but not essential, industry or professional experience of some sort could be substituted for a degree. Finally, we will look closely at the applicant’s reasons for wanting to participate in order to make sure they are aligned with what the course is offering.

Published September 16, 2010

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Karen Pearlman

Location: Sydney

Level: Postgraduate - Intermediate

Duration: 32 weeks/ 2 semesters

Start: Feb 21, 2011

Delivery mode: 1 evening a week plus one screen culture event a month

Course fee: $7,250

Applications close November 1, 2010


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