The Caucasus Business School’s Master’s Degree in cinematography teaches not only the craft, but also the ‘vision’. To make a chair, first you need to have an idea of the chair. To make a spear, you need to have an idea of the spear. To make a film, you need to have an idea for it. You can’t teach someone how to ‘make’ without first teaching them how to ‘see’.
The program is consistent with the visions of Caucasus University’s as well as the Business School’s mission and it will provide with research oriented teaching and learning to help develop competitive, highly skilled, morally perfect, democratic ideology follower specialists for the labor market, as well as satisfy the public education requirements. The program is created by Georgian private and public sector, after seeing the necessities on the market and following the labor market’s requirements. The program also uses the experience and professional standards of leading foreign universities.
Being a director doesn’t mean only knowing the necessary skills, it means having vision. A director is someone who sees. A director sees faces; they have a special way of seeing ‘reality’. ‘Reality’ is a material for them, just like clay is for a sculptor; like a word is for a writer. They have to be able to feel ‘reality’ with their fingertips and only then will they be able to create their film out of this ‘reality’. The program studies the cinematographic tactility. It teaches how to differentiate between ‘lively’ and ‘lifeless’ realities. Directors, just like mushroom collectors, know how to differentiate between poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms. It’s a special technique. You have to be able to tell apart ‘lively’ and ‘lifeless’ faces, and differentiate ‘lively’ locations. If the scene takes place in a ‘lifeless’ place/location, then it will lose its fluidity, the only purpose of the scene will be to carry out information; it’s otherwise empty. The same goes for lighting, color, sounds and all other components that represent the material of the film.
A film has one characteristic: it can’t be downgraded to an idea; a story; a fable; an image; the heroes or special effects. Every ‘real’ film is an interpretation or creation of ‘life’. This ‘life’ can’t be separated from itself, this is the specifics of a film, and it has to be in some way connected to reality. Film captures this ‘life’ in its immediacy. Director’s craftsmanship entails catching the ‘lively’ reality on their radar, and this doesn’t only concern the films that are supposedly ‘realistic’. We want it to be truthful/trustworthy, not realistic. Even a fantastic face has to be truthful. It's not just the schematics; you have to be able to catch its realness, which requires certain instruments. We have our own reality and we have to create our own instruments which will help us catch and transform it.
There are special techniques that allow you to catch this ‘realness’ and the program, above all, teaches these techniques. These techniques are more important than the ‘alphabet’ craft. In fact, these techniques are the craft and there are no universal laws that tell you where to put your camera, how the scene should be expanded or how the actors should behave. There are techniques that teach you how to catch ‘reality’ on your radar using cameras; scenes and actors’ hard work.
Not being in contact with ‘reality’ gives us the illusion that we’ve mastered the craft, which undermines our progress. Directors, who only master the technical elements of the craft, have not mastered the most important ability – the ability to see/perceive, and since they only follow the rules of filmmaking, their films end up being ‘lifeless’.
Based on this, Caucasus University’s master’s degree program in cinematography for Caucasus business school offers students:
- Knowledge in cinematography based on scientific research, which will be directed towards practical use by the students as well as, following the student’s choice, receiving in depth knowledge in one of two specialties (Film directing and dramaturgy).
- Help developing skills necessary for film directing and dramaturgy and prepare students for future individual or group projects. Students will not only be taught film crafts, they will also be able to develop other abilities; one of them being: the potential to see what is ‘lively’ and what is ‘lifeless’.
- Knowledge about the fundamental laws of professional grammar, as well as creative thinking.
- Bring up educated, perfectly well-adjusted, unique artist, who can take over the film cast and take the role of the main director.
- Assistance for students and graduate students in career advancements.
- Motivation to start up creative and innovative endeavors.
- Deepen students’ citizenship worldview, democracy and human values.
- Strengthening of civic values.
In order to achieve the aforementioned goals, during a two semester course, students will master fundamental, basic knowledge and learn theoretical basis of necessary professional as well as basic skills for directing and scriptwriting. They will also be able to showcase their theoretical knowledge in different projects or learning activities. During the third semester students will choose a specialty and will continue to receive knowledge in that specific direction, either film directing or dramaturgy.
The educational program is built on the correspondence of theoretical and practical work, which is necessary to master the profession in modern conditions. This handcrafted program consists of lectures, practical work and film production process.
From the first day, students will take part in different practical tasks – starting from creating a script to actually making a film. Such strategy of engagement was possible due to the lecturers being ‘active people’ in Georgian and foreign cinematography: director, script writers, producers, operators, sound directors, art directors, TV format creators, film experts as well as film critics.
This is a program for those who are oriented on becoming directors and who use the provided instruments to create their own ‘vision of the world’. The courses and lab work will be held by leading Russian and other foreign film directors, those, who in the 00’s changed their perception of the world, found their own way of storytelling and filming, brought new heroes to film and created a whole new style.
The mastership of scriptwriting will be taught by leading Georgian and foreign scriptwriters. Writers, dramaturges, including the ‘new drama’ era representatives, who have gained traction in the last ten years, will also take part in the teaching process.
It is a well known fact, that the problem with Georgian film is that it can’t ‘capture reality’. Despite the dramaturge’s skill level, the ‘reality’ that is transferred onto a digital carrier can often times come out looking ‘fake’. This is due to the fact that there are no instruments to approach reality. Scriptwriters can’t convey ‘lively’ speech; they can’t reconstruct ‘lively’ situations. They use the correct, but nevertheless dead patterns. The dialogues are ‘unrealistic’; the situations are straight from a template, all these things result in a film that does not display ‘life’, but a repeat of films we have seen before. The crisis of not displaying reality in the correct manner has led the program to refer to scriptwriters, writers and dramaturges who, with their works, proved that they can ‘deal with life’. To teach the basics and dramaturgic laws of scriptwriting the program invites foreign specialists/professionals. But in order for a blueprint to change (since a script that only follows the rules/laws is not ‘alive’) leading Georgian writers, who work in/with different genres, are involved in the teaching process. The inclusion of writers in the learning process is conditioned by the awareness of the fact that foreign schemes and systems need to adapt to our reality and that first of all; students need to come in contact with Georgian speech and reality, after which they can use the rules/laws and schemes established by foreign specialists/professionals.
The work of the director with the actor.
The program greatly focuses on the work a director has to do with the actor. First of all, the focus is on the actor’s skills, the purpose of which is to be realistic. The course involves not only the general technique of working with actors, but also observation of ‘life’. Students will choose ‘lively’ places along with their professors. After that, the students will visit and bring written and video examples of these places which can be – markets, hospitals, ports, mines, shelters, railway stations, maternity houses, woods, police districts, offices and supermarkets. The material will be analyzed on the basis of content and form, the students must learn to carefully observe the ‘forms’ of life, everyday speech etc.
The program is presented in such a manner that the students will not only receive cinematography knowledge, but also life experience; it will bring the attention to the material (clay) that will be the basis of the script and the film itself.
While working with an actor, special attention is on the analysis of the text; the contour of the play; working with psychological and artistic structures; working on technique, plasticity, and speech. Many different methods will be discussed during the education process, for example: the realistic, epic, naturalistic, neutral. The students will take part in the production process and will test out these methods in practice.
The operator skills will be taught by ‘active’ operatives. Students will have the ability to master not only theoretical craftsmanship alphabet, but also practical. The image of the world is changing and with it changes its forms. The attitude towards density, perspective and distance is changing. The program is presented in such a way that the students will not only learn the operator skill rules/laws, but it also will help develop the students’ sensitivity to the perception of the ‘real image’ – sensitivity towards movement, perspective, everything that helps develop the ‘operator’s eye’. Based on this, operators, who can crate not only a ‘beautiful image’ but also can make these images come to life, were invited to teach in this program.
The principles of choosing an actor. (casting)
Special attention is put on the principles of choosing actors. Besides finding certain types and personalities, casting entails special cinematographic sense – during the middle ages, this sense helped artists find their models. There are lively and lifeless faces, figures, gestures. An actor who has good technique and ’personality’, can have a lifeless face. On a digital carrier or tape such a face shows its lifeless nature. The program pays great attention to teaching how to distinguish between ‘lively’ and ‘lifeless’ and individual and universal.
The principles of choosing a location
Just like faces, there are clearly lifeless locations. It is necessary/important to distinguish between lively and lifeless interiors, landscapes, streets. In other case, a ‘wrong’ location will swallow the actor, the action and the entire film like the Bermuda Triangle. A location has its hidden keys and principles. It is important to know them, it is necessary to work out a sense to identify locations. The program will pay special attention to these issues.
Lighting, perspective, color
Lighting, perspective and color can also be ‘lifeless’ and ‘lively’. Correctly installed lighting doesn’t always come off as ‘lively’. On the contrary, the ‘correct’ lighting will sometimes come off as ‘lifeless’. Just like some correctly assembled compositions and complicated perspectives can be ‘lifeless’. These individual components can kill a film. There are some ‘killer’ operators, ‘killer’ artists, and ‘killer’ directors. The program will greatly focus on these components and materials, which help build up a film. The program teaches how to pay attention to the lighting, color, perspective, to the life of the composition, it gives knowledge about the secrets of the material, its chemistry and alchemy.
The program will pay special attention to the formation of montage mindset. Just like in speech, an idea is transferred using sentences and not just words; in cinematography storytelling is shown not through scenes, but with montage phrases. Montage phrases create styles (specific film languages). The program teaches how to think with montage phrases starting from the script.
A lot of attention will be put on the style and language of shooting. A manner of shooting is the same as a flick of a brush in painting. Shooting gives you the ability to capture a hidden meaning, which is not evident on the surface; it is not showcased in the story; in the actor’s play; in the lighting or color. The shooting itself, without the help of the actor’s work, can carry the elements of alarm, happiness, panic or romantic furor. God Pan or Dionysus could be behind the movement of the camera.
Film knowledge, film criticism
There was a time when directors assisted film criticism. Film critics not only analyzed films; they didn’t just look into existing and non-existing symbols and signs, they created theories and represented the intellectual and metal circle, which helped directors find orientation in space, their themes, their languages, their own styles. This was the case with Italian neo-realism, the case of the new French wave; the case of the Russian formalism school in the beginning of the 20th century. Shklovski, Iakobson, Eikhenbaum were not only interested in film criticism, they were creating the ‘literary space’ and the ‘film space’.
Criticism was an intellectual base – a mental field, in which literature and directing grew and flourished
The main idea of criticism isn’t just to criticize for the sake of criticism; it is to create a mental field. The program strives to create a fundament for the type of criticism that can create a background. It will be able to ‘agitate’ the mind, first and foremost being the director’s mind. Leading film critics and film theorists, as well as outstanding representatives of other professions such as: philosophers, semioticians, modern art theorists are invited to teach.
Leading modern video and media arts, modern artist representatives will take part in the teaching process. This is one of the most important peculiarities of the program, because in the last decade video art formed its own distinct attitude towards ‘visuals’. There is a tendency in western cinematography to interpenetrate film and modern art. The best example for this tendency would be the winner of the ‘Palme d'Or’ in the 2010 Cannes festival, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, as well as director Alexander Macqueen, Phillip Grenier, Shirin Neshat and others.
Why do we need literature and Philosophy?
Mahler once told Schoenberg about his students: ‘force these people to read Dostoyevsky! It is more important than counterpoint’. But shouldn’t counterpoint be more important to a musician? What did Mahler mean? What was the topic about? It was about the agitation of the mind. The mind can be agitated, just like the sea is sometime agitated and counterpoint, dramaturgy, shooting, montage rules/laws would have no meaning without this ‘sea’ and agitated mind. Rules/laws mean nothing in dead water. That’s why ‘Dostoyevsky’ is more important, than counterpoint and, dramaturgy and the rules/laws of cinematography. His works can awaken the ‘sea’ inside of you, and if there’s a ‘sea’, then ‘ you belong to yourself. Then you can obey and disobey the rules/laws. ‘Dostoyevsky’ is the metaphor for the agitation of the mind. This is why we need literature and philosophy. The personnel who can awaken a ‘sea’ in us and broaden its border were invited to teach in the program.
Why do we need psychoanalysis, psychology and dream explanations?
A modern artist (especially cinematographers) doesn’t dream anymore. Just like clerks, housewives and salesmen, they also do their jobs. They’re hardworking people. A hardworking person keeps their eye on the ratings, counts their money, and makes predictions. You’ll hear the words ‘box office’, ‘professional skills’ and ‘international level’ a lot from these people. Hopes, dreams, passion, vices were banished from their life without a trace. They only have the obvious – goals, success, schemes, rules, careers. Their gazes are focused on the outside.
But it’s impossible to construe films akin to what Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, Ridley Scott or Quentin Tarantino have made, if our gaze is only on the outside, these films are full of excitement, mischief, childish dreams and passion. It’s impossible to copy a construct; it’s not good to only follow the rules/laws.
Psychoanalysis (and all disciplines connected to it) direct the gaze towards the inside, but if the gaze is turned on the inside once, it will not go back. These disciplines dig up hopes, dreams, and hidden aspirations and trap them, so you end up trapped in yoursel
After successfully completing the film directing course, students will be able to use the knowledge not only as independent fictional film directors, but as a director of fictional series, television films and series, documentary and short films and television programs and telecasts. Graduates of the dramaturgy specialty can become the scriptwriters for the aforementioned films and series.