Modifications to HTC Requirement for MFA Students
Columbia University is one the most respected universities in the world, and the Film HTC classes -- along with the Professors that teach them -- contribute to that reputation. There is no question that these classes are valuable, and that they help filmmakers understand the history of film while providing an intellectual environment for analysis and critique. But the requirement's workload has taken away from the reason MFA students are here: to produce, write, and direct films. The HTC workload has pulled students away from their creative ambitions, and has left many of us with regret and frustration, since it has lessened our already limited time with MFA professors.
To be more specific, the research and writing requirements of the HTC classes have taken us away from class exercises, writing assignments, screenplays and films. Our DMC has been full of MFA students "pulling all-nighters" to complete research papers, and in doing so are unable to participate in filmmaking. Again, HTC provides a valuable experience, but when its demands have a negative impact on our filmmaking, it becomes a problem. As MFA's our requirements should not be the same (or in most cases, even more demanding) as undergraduate students.
Professor Insdorf’s “Film Language I” is a great example of how an HTC class for MFA students should run. We might suggest “Film Language II” to help us transition. Since Professor Insdorf has replaced all of the films screened in Film Language I with different films, it should really be considered a different class. This would be a great short-term solution to help some of us fulfill our requirement, while offering a great environment that is accessible and complimentary to our studies.
The experience of HTC should enhance our filmmaking, not detract from it. We would like to see the HTC tradition continue in a manner that is useful and manageable to all of us.
We feel it is imperative that this issue be addressed prior to the Spring semester.