Middlebury

Independent Production Guidelines

Your 507/707 project has been approved and you may register for it to be taken during the term(s) you proposed. Read the following guidelines carefully before registration and before beginning your project. If you have any questions, be sure to clear them up immediately. 

Before beginning any work, you should consult thoroughly with your project advisor about procedures, technical problems, money, deadlines, etc. Since the emphasis is upon this work being independent, the responsibility is upon the student for working out all these elements, arranging consultations, seeking the advisor's input, etc., but there are

Some Requirements That All Students Should Know:

1. Be sure to keep your project advisor, and, as appropriate, your other advisors, fully informed about your work. Normally, you should contact your project advisor on a weekly basis and frequently show him/her the work-in-progress. Your project advisor and, if appropriate, your other advisors, must have approved your final version before any public showing. If it is not approved, it will not screen. While the 507/707 is an independent project, the student should expect that the advisor will require the student to revise the project until it is acceptable to the advisor, especially with respect to sound and image quality.

2. Be sure to keep within the maximum length for your project; for a video, 10 minutes for a 507, 15 minutes for a 707, for a screenplay, 60-120 pages, for a critical essay 40-75 pages. The work will not be accepted if it exceeds the maximum scale or is less than the stated minimum.

3. Normally there is some kind of public component for any 507 or 707. In the case of a video, that element is a public screening during the last week of classes. We encourage students to screen together as this increases visibility of all projects. All FMMC students doing a FMMC 507/707 should get together and coordinate plans for publicity, invitations, etc. These viewings have to be advertised with posters and listings in Middlebury's Events Calendar, as well as in The Campus and on WRMC-FM or in The Addison Independent, and the students must extend personal, emailed invitations to each faculty member in theatre, dance, and FMMC, to the members of the Ad Hoc Film & Media Committee, and to the members of the College's central academic administration. These same people should be asked to announce the viewing in their classes. Normally, there is a reception for majors and faculty before or after one of the public screenings. For screenplays or critical essays, the normal public component is a reading of selected scene(s) or presenting a summary of your thesis as part of a panel with other students completing independent projects.

4. For 707's a project defense is to be scheduled with the faculty supervisors after the public screening or written submission. Students should come to the defense prepared to discuss their project in terms of the criteria for evaluation distributed by the Department of Film and Media Culture. Questions about the nature of the defense should be raised with the project advisor.

5. A final copy of the project, whether critical essay, script, video, or other media project, must be given to the project advisor for permanent deposit with the department before any final grade is turned in. Such copies need to be labelled clearly as to term, year, student name, project advisor, and title of the project. For video projects, create an uncompressed Quicktime, burn to DVD and give to Ethan Murphy in Axinn 204, and make a copy for yourself. In the case of a web-based project, the student must provide the department with an archived copy.

6. Deadlines are an important part of and factor into the assesment of an independent project. Process is as important as the final work. Final course grades will automatically be lowered one half of a letter for each deadline missed, regardless of the circumstances, unless the student submits a letter from the Dean of Students' office excusing the missed deadline.

7. We ask that students formally begin their spring term projects through the drop/add process the first day of classes. However, note that students will not be allowed to add or drop a 507 or a 707 unless they have completed the preparatory work outlined below (which may include an approved treatment, bibliography, filmography, shooting script, shot list, equipment request list, and storyboards) by the end of Winter Term.  Additional preparatory work and deadlines may be added by the project advisor and student, as necessary to the form and success of each project.  Students doing video projects should normally plan on the following deadlines; and they should assume that they will be asked to reshoot or re-record work, for technical and aesthetic reasons, and to plan their projects accordingly and in advance, e.g. choices of locations, weather, available participants, etc. 


A Timeline For Students Graduating in June 2010

  • By October 10th 2009

507/707 Application with timetable and treatment submitted (to Francisca Drexel in Axinn 212 or fdrexel@middlebury.edu)

  • By December 4th 2009, Last day of classes, Fall term

Treatment of 8-10 pages, bibliography, and filmography (as appropriate to project) completed and approved by advisor. 

  • By January 29th 2010, End of J-term

Shot list, storyboards, and shooting script (as appropriate to project) completed and approved by advisor. 

Equipment request list for semester submitted to advisor and Ethan Murphy. 

Schedule meeting to review equipment with advisor and Ethan Murphy.  

  • By Monday, beginning sixth week of Spring term classes

First rough cut shown to advisor

  • By March 29th 2010, Monday after spring break

Second rough cut shown to advisor

Coordinate plans with other students for publicity

  • By Monday, beginning of tenth week of Spring term classes

Fine cut shown to advisor

  • By Friday, end of eleventh week of classes

Final version shown to advisor (screen in 232 or 101 so as to identify any projection-related concerns)

  • By May 3rd 2010, Monday, final week of classes

Give Ethan Murphy final version of project in correct format

  • May 6 2010, Thursday evening, final week of classes

Public screening


Guidelines For Students Working on Video Projects

8. If the student is shooting with a tape-based camera, the department will furnish this tape directly to the student. Do not buy blank tapes and expect to be reimbursed nor charge any media to the College Store.  Consider buying your own rechargeable batteries at the College store for the microphones. Buy a flash drive and use it to back up your Final Cut project files.

9. Take equipment out only for the period when you need it and return the equipment promptly. Your advisor will be notified of any late returns; late returns will impact your grade (and your standing among other students who also need to use the equipment).  Do not trade equipment in the field; if you do, regardless of the circumstances, the person who originally checked the equipment out is held responsible for any loss, damage, etc.  Check equipment out ONLY with the student assistant or Ethan Murphy.  All equipment that the student has checked out needs to be turned in before any final grade can be given.

10. Because the equipment and editing room have to be used by other students during the next term, incompletes and extensions are not possible, except under extraordinary circumstances.

11.  When forming your equipment request list, list everything, include model numbers, e.g., Sony MDR-V6 Headphones, Manfrotto 3126/3001BN Tripod, and keep in mind that if your aesthetics demand visual consistency throughout the piece, you'll always need to work with the same model of camera. Though you will have prior experience using the equipment you choose to work with, before you begin your project, arrange a meeting with Ethan Murphy to thoroughly review the items on your request list. 

12. A folder on the XSan server will be created for you to use. It is accessible only on the workstations in the Axinn basement.  During production class time, class members have priority on the computers.  Sign up for editing slots to guarantee a space.  Do not sign up for more than one slot and please erase your name if you don't plan to show up.  You may sign up for a second slot if no one has shown up. 

13. Projects frequently have problems with sound; to that end, those shooting a video should not use the on-board microphone (the camera mic).  Students should use a Microtrack recorder or a Marantz for collecting and recording audio and should select the appropriate microphones (dynamic or condenser and omnidirectional, unidirectional, or cardiod) for their project, keeping in mind, as applicable, the need for aural consistency.  When using a lapel/lavalier mic, make sure the mic is clipped to the speaker's clothes or taped to their skin if recording voice, or otherwise secured, if using for foley, so as to avoid noise. If it is necessary to connect a microphone directly to a camera, do not use camcorders that have no manual control of the sound level; you'll find that the auto-level setting will raise the ambient noise to an unacceptable level whenever there is a dead space, e.g., when no one is speaking. Also, some of the cameras require an external power supply and some do not; be sure that you check and use a power supply with the microphone that requires one. 

14. Those shooting a video should not use any copyrighted materials in the completed video, i.e., sound, text, images, etc. , unless they have specific permission from their project advisor. The department will not accept for credit video projects that contain any copyrighted images or sounds or music, unless the student has written permission from the copyright holder, or the use of copyrighted material falls under fair use guidelines.

15. The rights for video projects belong primarily with the student, but the department reserves the right to show the work within the College community and to submit copies to film/video festivals and contests on behalf of the student and the College.

16. All video copies should have complete screen credits, including cast and crew, as appropriate, as well as a credit for the department and the institution. The simplest way to do this is to indicate that the video is copyrighted by the student and the program/institution, e.g, "copyright 2009 Susan Doe and the Department in Film and Media Culture, Middlebury College." Video credits should be kept to a minimum and simplified; if you wish to credit the project advisor, list his/her name with others. Don't indicate that the video is a 507 or 707 project. Preferred credits include only the title, maker, cast and crew names, acknowledgements for any organization that helped, and the institution. Spell check your text. Choose a simple, sans-serif font, make sure it fits within the title-safe area, and that it is on screen long enough to read (to guarantee comprehension, you should be able to read the text twice before it disappears). Always show your credits to your advisor.

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