For some of you who are considering Screenwriting at York or are just curious about what it looks like, I will write about some specific classes I took. CMA 2200 Early cinema to the Coming of Sound: 1895 – 1930 was a mandatory class. The professor was Emilly Barton (the course director), and the TA was Emilly Collins.
I can’t say I am a big fan of early cinema – from 1895 to 1930 – the period this class covers. I am also not an enormous enthusiast of classic academic essay assignments. However, this class was done in such a fun way that early cinema started to feel loveable and enjoyable. The movie choice was diverse; I especially enjoyed Dawson City: Frozen in Time. It is a documentary about Dawson City in Yukon, where they discovered 533 nitrate reels containing many lost films in 1978.
But, what I loved the most, were the assignments. The main one was quite interesting: to make an early cinema curation program on a specific topic of our choice. I will simplify it a bit for the sake of this blog post.
The assignment was from 3 parts I did through the course: movie program, statement and exhibition. I chose 6 movies, wrote a program statement, and chose where and when will my curation program be shown (it should not be after 1950). I also did a trailer for the program.
I thoroughly researched my topic, “Disaster movies in Early Cinema, based on actual events.” Yes, I am a big fan of disaster movies, especially ones from the 70s. It was easy for me to spend hours researching and reading many peer-reviewed articles about the topic. I was surprised to see a plethora of disaster movies in early cinema. Like in the 70s, the centrepiece of disaster movies based on true stories were people’s destinies, not human or natural disasters.
My films were Burning stable from 1895, In Nacht und Eis from 1912 (inspired by Titanic), Atlantic from 1929 (also Titanic), The Johnstown Flood from 1926 (based on the flood in Johnstown), The Eruption of Mount Pelee from 1902 (Mount Peele eruption from 1902) and Earthquake from 1974 which was inspired by San Fernando earthquake of February 1971.
I showed them on April 15, 1941. at Loew’s Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. Before the movies Atlantic and In Nacht und Eis, the on-stage program had the following guests: Rosalie Bidois, Dickinson Bishop, Edward Pennington Calderhead, and Malvina Helen Cornell. They are all Titanic survivors, and the exhibition is held on the 29th Titanic sinking anniversary.
In the assignment, there were classic essay arguments and data about everything – from who invented popcorn in the cinema business to information about the audience at the time, film critics that changed the way we think about movies, and movie palaces like Loew’s Kings Theatre.
I had fun. And I made a trailer (it was a trailer or poster option) in iMovie. I never worked in it, and I am not a production major, so my editing skills are very very basic.