Diane Vance reports on M.U.M.’s new David Lynch MA in Film for The Fairfield Ledger

M.U.M. adds master’s in film

By DIANE VANCE | Aug 14, 2013

The Maharishi University of Management debuts a new master’s degree this semester, The David Lynch MA in film.

The university has offered undergraduate filmmaking since 2007 in its Media and Communications Department and animation courses available in the Art Department for many years. It is now adding the next layer of learning.

“The graduate program is designed to take an idea to completion in a major project, with the possibility of publication,” said Gurdy Leete, co-chairman and associate professor of M.U.M.’s Media and Communications.

The course and fall semester begin Monday, and as with all M.U.M. courses, are taught in the block schedule of one course at a time.

“We’re expecting 20 to 25 students,” said Leete. “This program is about creating a supportive environment where artists connect with the audience. Students will have the opportunity to make deep connections in the film-making industry and gain recognition.”

The one-year, August to May course, includes curriculum in Advanced Narrative, Advanced Screenwriting, Acting for Film, The Frame, The Field, and from February to April an Advanced Video Media Project and then, The Media Market. Students who have not yet learned Transcendental Meditation will be taught the technique during the first few weeks of class.

About half the expected students have attended M.U.M. before.

“I’m excited about the group of students enrolled and how they will be producing great work,” said Stuart Tanner, co-chairman and assistant professor of M.U.M.’s Media and Communications. “The students will get a great deal out of working with one another and following the structure of the program. The goal is to produce a major piece of work.”

Tanner has had a glimpse of some of that work. The department offered a full scholarship for the master’s in film program based on applicants submitting a short film to compete for the scholarship.

Leete said the department received several dozens film submissions, which were all screened by the department faculty and program sponsors. The top six short films were then submitted to David Lynch, filmmaker, writer, artist, for viewing.

Tanner talked with Lynch by phone Tuesday for about 20 minutes.

“He really liked viewing the six shorts,” said Tanner. “Some of them were very accomplished pieces. He said when watching a film he watches for what stays with the viewer, what leaves a strong feeling. A short film doesn’t have a long time to develop that. He selected the film by Kinga Kulcsar as the scholarship winner because hers had that quality of making an impression, leaving the viewer with a feeling.

“I got to tell her last night that she won the scholarship.”

Tanner said the film will have a link at M.U.M.’s David Lynch MA in Film website filmschool.mum.edu in the near future.

Students in the master’s program also will visit with Lynch about filmmaking.

“We’re still working with David about his schedule,” said Leete. “Students will connect with him by Skype and at some point in the year the class will travel to Los Angeles for a couple of days and students will have a few question and answer sessions directly with him.”

Tanner said naming the program for David Lynch is a perfect fit for the program.

“He is the filmmaker’s film maker,” said Tanner. “He’s a fantastic person to be around. He is a role model and visionary with great integrity to his own vision. Putting his name on the program is perfect. It’s an idea that’s been bubbling away for a while and now it’s happening.”

Tanner said Lynch will be calling the classes throughout the year.

“And we will bring other insiders from the industry, we’ll bring other experts to the classes,” said Tanner.

Leete said the department is in contact with other industry people to connect with the program.

“Other luminaries in the field will connect by Skype, visit Fairfield and lead workshops or be available when we are in L.A.,” said Leete. “Schedules are always changing for people in film, but we expect quite an array of industry insiders from various fields to work with us.”

Not all students in the program will need to produce a major film. Many aspects of film will be studied and students may collaborate with one another to create a project. Students may screen write, direct, cast, design costumes and sets, or be special effects supervisor. Film also has an important business side and students may focus on setting up a media company.

“Students can create different products, it could be a film or a website of music videos,” said Leete. “The idea is to make a giant step forward and make it easier at the end of the program to work in the industry.”

“All we require is that film plays a significant part in the final project. The program is about having a year to go deeply into a creative experience that will transform both you and your career,” according to information on the program’s website.

Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree in any subject, a resume, a portfolio of best work, including at least one film of any length created by the applicant, other creative work and special achievements. Applicants also have an interview with department faculty.

Published with permission from The Fairfield Ledger

Also reported in Indiewire: There’s a David Lynch MA in Film. Why is it in Iowa? Must students meditate? Burning questions, we’ve got answers: Besides Transcendental Meditation, What Does One Learn with the David Lynch MA in Film?

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