Posts by Jason Mittell


Course for Spring 2011

Categories: Class Info

Anybody interested in taking FMMC 285, Sustainable Television: Producing Environmental Media, in Spring 2011, should fill out the online application by Monday, November 8.


Categories: Uncategorized

Join us for our screening! Thursday 1/28, 6:30 and 8:00 pm in Axinn 232

Sustainable TV Poster

Week 2

Categories: Daily summary

Clearly daily summaries have not been happening, so how about weekly ones?

The second week was all about checking in on works in progress and planning for shoots. We discussed each project during our meetings, making sure that progress was moving forward and offering feedback on ideas and some rough footage.

On Monday, each group shared rough short pieces done on the fly, some of which can definitely end up in the final piece. On Tuesday, we had a virtual visit from Planet Forward’s Frank Sesno via Skype, who offered feedback on project abstracts and great advice on many of our ideas. And on Thursday, ES/Econ professor Jon Isham sat in to share his thoughts on environmental activism for the group and on-camera. Jon also shared some links for the class:

Jamie Henn has just posted a nice piece on activism in this area, particularly as it related to the leading role that students can play. And here are some videos to look at:

Thoughts on Age of Stupid?

Categories: Films

Just an open thread to post your thoughts about the film (and you can learn more at its website) – what did you think? And what might we take away from it for our production?

Project Synopses

Categories: Assignments, Class Info

Here’s a thread for each group to add a one paragraph overview of each project in the comments. Make sure you clearly identify the intent and approach, and outline how you imagine the piece will work. These are working documents, so they will evolve over the next three weeks, but you should be able to have a clear overview of each by Monday.

Days 3 and 4 – Jan 6-7

Categories: Class Info, Daily summary

These were the tough days of planning – we came into class on Wed with a long list of possible topics, and we emerged on Thurs with a group of three teams, each of whom have three projects in pre-production! The details are all on the Google Doc, and I’ll be posting a synopsis of the projects on the site.

On Wednesday, we started by looking at footage from our person-on-the-street interviews, critiquing shot composition, and audio/visual technical choices. Ethan led a training session on the basics of FinalCutPro as well.

On Thursday, Daniel Houghton (’06, former FMMC staffer, current producer for Brighter Planet) showed us two of his short videos for Brighter Planet, and talked about strategies for quick & cheap production that doesn’t sacrifice quality.

On the “to do list,” we set-up short-term tasks to accomplish before Monday on each of the projects – the plan is to have better-scoped projects, pre-production plans, and in some cases, shoots scheduled or started by Monday 1/11. We also challenged each group to put together a brief “impromptu” video that might be included in the final piece for Monday.

We are also looking forward to seeing The Age of Stupid at Dana on Saturday at 3 or 8 pm.

Day 2 – Jan 5

Categories: Daily summary, Videos

Today was screening day, where we watched two longer pieces: The Story of Stuff and Everything’s Cool. The latter went over particularly well, since there was a section shot at Middlebury and a profile of colleague Bill McKibben – I certainly enjoyed random cameos from friends!

Keep adding to the Google Doc for tomorrow…

Film criticism assignment

Categories: Assignments, Class Info

Although this is neither a writing or screening-centered course, there is one assignment in the first week to get you to watch an example of environmental film making, and think about the strategies used in such films. More beneath the fold… More

Day 1 – January 4

Categories: Class Info, Daily summary

Instead of a syllabus planning out each day, this course seems more appropriate to log with daily posts updating what we’ve done. Students should feel free to add comments to each day, with follow-up questions, links, or continuing discussion.

To launch the class (with 3 people missing due to travel nightmares!), we got oriented on the camera we’ll be using, the Sony EX1, and learned how to log & transfer footage using FinalCutPro. All of the technology & facilities we’ll be using are documented on the course technology page.

We also discussed how we’ll be brainstorming stories, broken down into Topics, Intents, and Approaches. We’ll use this Google Doc to collaborative brainstorm and plan.

Finally, we watched two videos, discussing their intents and approaches:’s promo animation, and Unchopping a Tree.

Next up: we watch 2 films together on Tuesday at 2 in AXN 232. And for homework for Wed at 1:

  • Brainstorm topics in the GoogleDoc for Wed
  • Choose two of the “person-on-the-street” interviews to share & discuss in class on Wed. These can be either exemplary shots that you think are particularly effective, or ones that are more problematic. You can label the clips on the server, and we’ll watch them directly through FCP.
  • Plan to view one of the films on reserve and blog about it for Fri, to be explained in the next post.


Categories: Activism, Ideas

Here’s a thread to discuss what went on in Copenhagen – and we’d love to hear some first-hand accounts, Rhiya! To start, I’ll link to Prof. Jon Isham’s strong call to activism and Bill McKibben’s disappointment with Obama and the agreement. How might we translate these perspectives (and others) onto the television screen?

(And here’s some footage…)