Directing: Creating Your Short Film

Earn a Certificate of Completion.

Interested in learning how to direct a professional-looking film without a big-scale budget? Enroll in “Directing: Creating Your Short Film,” to hone your filmmaking skills and build your portfolio as you learn from industry veteran and USC alum Sanford Bookstaver, the director and producer of hit TV shows and movies, including Dexter: New Blood, House MD, Power, Chicago Fire, and many others. In this course, you’ll be guided through the complete production process as you pick-up tricks-of-the-trade to bring your cinematic vision to the screen.

PROGRAM DATES
February 19, 2024
March 4, 2024
March 18, 2024
April 1, 2024
April 15, 2024
April 29, 2024
May 6, 2024
May 20, 2024
June 3, 2024
June 17, 2024
July 1, 2024
July 15, 2024
July 29, 2024
August 5, 2024
August 19, 2024

FORMAT AND COURSE LENGTH
Combined coursework of recorded lectures and demonstrations, readings and watch lists, and assignments is approximately 20-25 -hours to be completed at the student’s own pace. Students are expected to complete the course in four-weeks but have 90-days of access if more time is needed.

ELIGIBILITY
Students must be at least 14 years old or older and enrolled in a high school or secondary program.

Recent high school graduates, students taking a gap year or time off from college and are older than 18 can request an exemption to apply by emailing precollegeonline@usc.edu and include a short paragraph (no more than 200 words) stating your interest and how this program will add value to your academic or career plans.

TUITION
$1990 USD
$35 application fee

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Anyone with a smartphone can make a movie. But if you know how to scout some great locations, where to place the camera, and how to work with actors then you can make a great movie.

Sanford Bookstaver has worked as a director and producer in film and television for over twenty years on shows like: Dexter: New Blood, House MD, Power, Chicago Fire, and many others. As a USC alum, he’s excited to share his industry experience with aspiring filmmakers and demonstrate how to use creativity in lieu of professional resources.

Guiding you through the entire process of production, students will learn how to prepare a script for filming, assemble a highly collaborative team, and utilize readily available tools to pull off a successful shoot. Students will then learn how to use those tools to capture classic types of coverage and essential shots to bring their script to life. After shooting, students will learn how to navigate the post-production process to bring all of the parts together for an edited final cut.

By the end of the filmmaking process, students will earn a certificate of completion, engage in creative exercises, hear from industry experts, and get inspired from film clips and real-world examples of movie-making in action. At the culmination of the course, students will have completed a short film.

Featured Topics

  • Pre-production
  • Actors and Casting: Bringing Your Characters to Life
  • Production Part 1: Preparing Your Scenes
  • Production Part 2: Using Your Tools
  • Post-production

Learning Outcomes
This course guides students through the entire filmmaking process from the early logistical stages of pre-production to successfully executing a film shoot and editing that footage. Through strategically using easily accessible tools and equipment, students will learn how to make a short film as professionally as possible with any budget.

Following the completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Build a collaborative film team, scout locations, and prepare sets
  • Conceptualize a script through creating a storyboard, shot list, and schedule
  • Audition, rehearse, and prepare actors to get the performances you need
  • Understand professional filmmaking tools and how to use alternative DIY equipment
  • Execute the most classic types of coverage to capture a master shot
  • Use different camera movements, lighting setups, filters, and lens to achieve a range of cinematic styles
  • Undergo post-production to assemble footage, edit, apply elements of sound design and music to arrive at a final cut

Format and Course Length
The course consists of recorded lectures and demonstrations, film clips, and industry connections. Each topic provides context for key elements of creating a short film from pre-production to post. Students will engage with creative exercises to generate and revise work in order to complete the course with a final cut of a short film.

Combined coursework of recorded lectures and demonstrations, readings and watch lists, and assignments is approximately 20-25 -hours to be completed at the student’s own pace. Students are expected to complete the course in four-weeks but have 90-days of access if more time is needed.

INSTRUCTOR AND INDUSTRY EXPERT

Sandford Bookstaver Headshot
Sanford Bookstaver

Being a Director is the best job in the world.

Sanford Bookstaver has worked as a director and producer in film and television for over twenty years on shows like: Dexter: New Blood, House MD, Power, Chicago Fire, and many others. He fell in love with movies at an early age and throughout his career has collaborated with some of the most creative and talented people in Hollywood.

He enrolled in the School of Cinematic Arts at USC and began his journey towards becoming a director. He paid his dues working as an assistant at DreamWorks for Jeffrey Katzenberg and while working there co-wrote and directed his short film Scriptfellas a parody on Martin Scorcese’s Goodfellas. He shared this film with Katzenberg who later shared it with Spielberg and one week later his lifelong dream would become a reality as a director on the NBC show The Others.

Bookstaver has been nominated for several awards for his directing talents and has also lent his time to teaching other aspiring young filmmakers whenever he can.

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS

Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis. Applicants who submit a completed application can expect an admission decision within 3 – 5 business days.

  • Include basic contact information from you and your parent(s) or guardian.
  • Tell us why you want to take the course and a little about yourself through a short-answer essay.
  • Share a piece of writing, video or social media content that reveals something about yourself (optional).
  • Submit the $35 application fee.
  • Students must be at least 14 years old or older and enrolled in a high school or secondary program.

INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS

In addition to the requirements listed above, international applicants are expected to be proficient in English. International students who successfully complete an online course will receive a digital Certificate of Completion and by request a USC Pre-College Program transcript at no additional cost.

PROGRAM START DATE AND APPLICATION DEADLINES

* Scroll right to view full table
PROGRAM START DATESAPPLICATION & TUITION DEADLINE
Monday, February 19, 2024Wednesday, February 14, 2024
Monday, March 4, 2024Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Monday, March 18, 2024Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Monday, April 1, 2024Wednesday, March 27, 2024
Monday, April 15, 2024Wednesday, April 10, 2024
Monday, April 29, 2024Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Monday, May 6, 2024Wednesday, May 1, 2024
Monday, May 20, 2024Wednesday, May 15, 2024
Monday, June 3, 2024Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Monday, June 17, 2024Wednesday, June 12, 2024
Monday, July 1, 2024Wednesday, June 26, 2024
Monday, July 15, 2024Wednesday, July 10, 2024
Monday, July 29, 2024Wednesday, July 24, 2024
Monday, August 5, 2024Wednesday, July 31, 2024
Monday, August 19, 2024Wednesday, August 14, 2024
Apply

CANCELLATION AND REFUNDS

Application fees are nonrefundable. All course cancellations requests must be made in writing to precollegeonline@usc.edu. Any tuition paid to the university will be refunded, not including fees, if requested no more than three (3) days past the course start date. Requests to drop the course more than three (3) days after the start date will not be eligible for a refund.

The university will not refund tuition for Pre-College Online Exploration courses for students who are removed from the program due to a violation of our Letter of Understanding for Online Participation and our Student Code of Conduct.

SCHOLARSHIPS

USC Pre-College Programs is proud to honor full scholarships for our Online Exploration Courses to students enrolled in the summer session of the USC Leslie and William Morrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative (USC NAI). Qualified and interested students who are enrolled in grades 9-12 can send an email for application and enrollment instructions to precollegeonline@usc.edu.