Tag Archive | "school of communication"


Film Students Aim High, Go West, and Captivate Their Audience

Special to UM News

CanesFilmShowcaseFor a select group of motion pictures students, a once in a lifetime opportunity to screen in Los Angeles began after winning ’Canes Film Festival in May 2016.

Out of 85 entries submitted to ’Canes Film Festival, the School of Communication’s year-end film festival, five were selected by a jury of industry professionals to screen at the Directors Guild of America Theater in LA during the 11th annual ‘Canes Film Showcase.

While in LA, the student filmmakers spent two intensive days touring studios, attending Q&A sessions, and participating in an intimate master class led by distinguished executives, producers, and directors. The trip culminated on June 2 with the DGA premiere and post-screening reception attended by 350 UM alumni and friends.

“This was a very informative experience,” said Stephanie Pasternak, producer of Give Me Trouble. “I had no idea I would be learning so much. Now I just want to make sure I hold on to it so I will always remember everything.”

The annual showcase, co-hosted by the School of Communication and the UM Alumni Association, is a popular networking event for film and television alumni on the West Coast, affording them the chance to stay tuned to what student filmmakers are creating on campus.

This year’s contenders received a warm reception, with audience members saying they felt “glued to the edge of their seats” and were “brought to tears” watching the films, while others remarked on how impressed they were with the wide reach and ambition of the work. Many attendees stated they could not decide which movie they liked best.

Though it may have been difficult, audiences were asked to choose which film deserved the City of Angelsaward. In a relatively new tradition, viewers voted for their favorite film via their mobile devices. This year, it was Xinye Chen’s Finding Buddha, which also won University of Miami’s Best of the Festival award during ’Canes Film Festival.

Finding Buddha follows an American “average Joe” who leaves everything he knows behind before his 45th birthday and heads to China to find Buddha. While on his quest for self-discovery, he encounters a young tour guide who appears just as lost as he is and they set off on another kind of adventure. Finding Buddha was directed by Zilong Liu, and produced by Xinye Chen.

In addition to Finding Buddha, four other films and a screenplay were presented in LA.

In Give Me Trouble, directed by Isaac Mead-Long and produced by Stephanie Pasternak, a weathered blues guitarist gives his final performance, as the lines of reality become increasingly blurred.

Deer God tells the story of Old Guan, a native Orogen hunter, who goes into the woods to shoot “donkey-deer” before his family leaves for America. For Deer God, producer-director Tomorrow Mingtian traveled to the remote Chinese location of the Orogen tribe and filmed in -43 F weather.

Isaac Mead-Long’s documentary, Ballet Bus, follows two young boys, Kimani and Kelvin, who were selected to be a part of the Miami City Ballet’s new outreach program.

The narrative film Paradise, directed by Andrea Garcia-Marquez and produced by April Dobbins, traces a man’s deepening obsession with death as he learns of a strange ritual that repulses his wife.

The winning screenplay by Liam Allen-McGoran is an original television pilot called The Chafe in which the cast and crew of a 1950s sitcom fight to keep their show on the air after the death of its beloved star. The “show within a show” offers a glimpse into the seedy beginnings of American television against a backdrop of gangsters, communists, and spies.

In addition to VIP tours of Sony, Lightstorm Entertainment, and Raleigh Studios, students engaged in an intensive master class in which their films were discussed and critiqued by distinguished guests.

Participants in the master class were Kary Antholis (HBO/Cinemax); Martha Coolidge (director); John Herzfeld (director); Michael Robin (producer and director); Anne Parducci (producer); Matthew Stein (Sony). The host of the panel was John Weiser (Sony) who complimented the films overall for their impressive “scope” and “technical achievement.”

Panelists advised students to set themselves apart by figuring out what makes them a little bit different than the person they are standing next to and, when making a movie, not to hold back.

“Make the film that only you can make,” advised Martha Coolidge. “Show us who you are when you show us the film. That’s the secret to bold, passionate, original storytelling.”

To view photos from ’Canes Film Showcase, please visit https://www.facebook.com/UMSoC/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10154330195798395.

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Professor Gets Galápagos Scoop, Imparts Lesson


Professor Gets Galápagos Scoop, Imparts Lesson

By Maya Bell
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 26, 2016) — Shortly after arriving in the Galápagos Islands to lead his summer study-abroad course, School of Communication Professor Joseph B. Treaster dropped by the office of the Galápagos National Park and Galápagos Marine Reserve, hoping to catch the interim director at his desk.

Instead, the former New York Times reporter and foreign correspondent caught a whiff of a breaking news story and, with old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting, nailed it down: Africa Berdonces, an energetic young woman who rides a beat-up bicycle and often wears flip-flops, was about to take charge of managing the Galápagos Islands, one of the world’s environmental treasures.

Photographer Thomas Rodriguez and writer Joseph P. Treaster checked out their story posted online.

Photographer Thomas Rodriguez, standing, and writer Joseph P. Treaster check out their story posted online.

Within 48 hours, Treaster’s story about Berdonces, complete with photographs of her, a blue-footed booby, and other iconic Galápagos animals taken by UM technical specialist Thomas Rodriguez, appeared in The Times, providing a real-life learning experience for the eight UM students who had come to the Galápagos to sharpen their critical thinking and writing skills by communing with nature.

During the three-week, six-credit course, “The Galápagos Islands: Environment and Culture, Writing, Research, Critical Thinking,” the students swim with sea lions and penguins, hike volcanoes, get within inches of giant Galápagos tortoises, and study Charles Darwin and climate change — all as a precursor to writing articles on Galápagos issues that will be published in the Miami Planet, the University’s online environmental magazine.

“We’re using the Times article as a model for the work the students are doing and to show them how reporters conduct interviews, seize opportunities, and turn their reporting into articles,’’ Treaster said.

That’s something Treaster knows inside out. He often draws on his 30-plus years of experience at The New York Times to inform his UM classes on the fundamentals of reporting and writing for mass audiences. And it was two of those fundamentals—keen observations and an inquisitive nature—that tipped Treaster to Berdonces’ appointment, which the Ecuadorean government had not planned to announce for a few days.

Thomas Rodriguez's photo of Africa Berdonces, the new director of Galapagos National Park, ran in The New York Times.

Thomas Rodriguez’s photo of Africa Berdonces, the new director of Galapagos National Park, ran in The New York Times.

Waiting near the director’s office late the Friday afternoon of May 20, Treaster said he “sensed excitement among the secretaries and other staff assistants,” and started asking questions. Pretty soon, someone mentioned Berdonces’ news. Nobody, however, would officially confirm her appointment, so Treaster set out to find out as much as he could about her and what her new role might mean for the Galápagos.

As luck would have it, he bumped into Berdonces at the park headquarters and learned that she grew up in the Galápagos, has a master’s degree in environmental studies from James Cook University in Australia, and felt quite prepared to take on one of the world’s most significant environmental posts. “This is my passion,” she told Treaster. “I studied for this. I’ve been a national park guide. I’m a dive master. I’m from a family in the tourism business. I know the business of the Galápagos from inside.”

Within a couple hours, Treaster interviewed half a dozen other people, including Berdonces’ father, a dive shop owner, and a physician who has known her since she was a teenager.

Working with government officials and others, Treaster put Berdonces’ appointment and the challenges she faces in context. As he noted in the Times article, she is taking charge just as the Ecuadorean government is taking steps to better protect the Galápagos.

“It is,” Treaster wrote, “banning all fishing in the northern third of the island chain and creating a sanctuary for sharks. A new port on the mainland will be the exclusive conduit for cargo bound for the islands, the better to keep nonnative animals and plants from reaching the islands and disturbing the ecological balance. The government has also imposed a 36-room limit on new hotels to limit crowds, and is bringing together the management of land and sea areas, which had been overseen separately.”

As fellow instructor Heidi Carr, a former Miami Herald editor who co-directs UM’s Galápagos program and teaches “The Galapagos Islands: Social Media and Global Strategic Communication,” noted, Treaster is a never-ending fount of such information because he never stops collecting it.

“He is continually talking to strangers and asking questions,” Carr wrote in an email from the Galápagos. “Just last night, all we wanted to do was grab dinner and buy water. He ended up interviewing the hostess of the restaurant, getting a tour of the hotel’s $380 rooms, interviewing the owner, and having a very in-depth discussion about the environment, ecology, the Galápagos government, getting permits, and what people who stay there do when they are there.”

While Treaster has had innumerable bylines in The Times over the decades and will have many more—he’ll be returning to the Galápagos next fall to work on a Times travel program called Times Journeys—it was the first time Rodriguez has had a photo published in any newspaper.

“It’s one thing to post a picture to Facebook and receive  a lot of likes,” Rodriguez said, ‘but to have a photo published in a paper like The New York Times that is read by millions really is something else.”

To read Treaster’s story and view more of Rodriguez’s photos, visit The New York Times.


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Interactive Media Program Ranks in Top 25


Interactive Media Program Ranks in Top 25

Special to UM News

InteractiveMediaCORAL GABLES, FLA. (March 17, 2016—University of Miami School of Communication’s Interactive Media Program has earned the No. 23 spot on The Princeton Review‘s just-published list saluting the top 25 graduate schools to study game design for 2016.

The Princeton Review chose the schools based on a survey it conducted in 2015 of 150 institutions offering game design coursework and/or degrees in the United States, Canada, and some countries abroad.

The company’s 40-question survey asked schools to report on everything from their academic offerings and faculty credentials to their graduates’ starting salaries and employment experience. Among criteria The Princeton Review weighed to make its selections: the school’s academics, facilities, career services, and technology.

“This ranking is a tribute to the quality of our faculty and the innovative curriculum they have built. Graduates from this program are being hired into fantastic positions in great organizations. It’s a pretty amazing accomplishment, given how new our program is,” said Gregory J. Shepherd, dean of the School of Communication.

The Interactive Media program aims to prepare a new generation of innovators and leaders in the field of interaction design. Its mission is to explore the use of technology, design, human behavior, and their impact on communication. The multidisciplinary curriculum brings together students from different backgrounds to learn about game design, web design, mobile, data visualization, interaction design, and other emerging technologies. The program trains students to research, prototype, design, and build projects in business, social, academic, and cultural contexts.

“It has long been our mission to help students find – and get into – the schools best for them,” said Robert Franek, Princeton Review Senior VP/Publisher. “For students aspiring to work in the burgeoning field of game design, we strongly recommend University of Miami School of Communication’s Interactive Media Program and each of the other schools that made our 2016 lists. These are truly the ‘cream of the crop’ institutions from which to launch a career. Their faculties are outstanding. Their facilities are awesome. And their alumni include legions of the industry’s most prominent game designers, developers, artists, and entrepreneurs.”

The Princeton Review’s full report on this project at www.princetonreview.com/game-design also features a companion list of “Top 50 Undergraduate Schools to Study Game Design for 2016.” It includes profiles of the schools with application information and links to the school sites.

For the fourth consecutive year, The Princeton Review teamed up with PC Gamer, a monthly magazine published by Future plc as its reporting partner on this project. PC Gamer has a feature on the list in its May issue available on newsstands March 29. The feature has information on some of the schools’ unique programs, class offerings, prominent professors, and alumni.

The Princeton Review developed its Top Schools to Study Game Design project in 2009 with assistance from a national advisory board that helped design the survey instrument and methodology. Board members included administrators and faculty from respected game design programs, and professionals from some of the top gaming companies.

The Princeton Review is also known for its annual rankings of colleges, law schools, and business schools in dozens of categories, which it reports on its site, and in its books including The Best 380 CollegesThe Best 295 Business Schools, and The Best 173 Law Schools. The company is not affiliated with Princeton University.

– See more at: http://www.com.miami.edu/news/2016/03/17/university-miami%E2%80%99s-interactive-media-program-named-princeton-review-2016-list-top-25#sthash.hSP97eSn.dpuf

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School of Communication to Host Coral Gables Comedy Festival

ComicCure2CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 16, 2016) — Comic Cure brings the Coral Cables Comedy Festival to the University of Miami campus on Thursday, March 31, when more than 20 local comedians will take the stage at the Bill Cosford Cinema to compete for the title of “fan favorite.” A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Public Relations Experience Program (PREP) in the School of Communication.

“As a UM alumnus, it’s not only rewarding to bring my work back to the very campus that taught me so much, but I feel it’s my responsibility to provide a learning opportunity for students,” explained co-founder Benjamin Leis. “UM and the School of Communication have such amazing programs, organizations, and offerings. We hope to highlight a few that evening.”

Leis has had a special connection with the University of Miami since he stepped foot on campus as a freshman from Philadelphia in August of 2004. He was an active campus leader having pursued a degree in broadcast journalism and political science. After graduation his involvement with the University continued, as a volunteer leader for seven years and as a professional working for the UM Alumni Association for about five years.

In Comic Cure’s special festival format, more than 20 comedians divided between the two shows perform their best material in three-minute sets. At the end of each show, the audience votes for their favorite, choosing which comedian wins the grand prize and bragging rights.

Tickets are available in advance for $20 at CoralGablesComedyFestival.com. Tickets are also available for $30 the night of the show at the Cosford Cinema, 5030 Brunson Drive, Coral Gables, Fla. 33143, as long as seats are available. People 18 and older are welcome with discounted tickets for students. Parking is available for free on campus. Doors open at 6 p.m. with shows at 7 and 9 p.m.

PREP is a faculty-supervised course for students to take their knowledge out of the classroom and into the workplace. PREP is designed to provide students with hands-on experience “doing” their future careers. PREP provides a supervised workforce for special events, non-profits, and sports organizations throughout South Florida.

Comic Cure produces live comedic events showcasing local performers to raise awareness, volunteers, and funds for local charities. Created by Leis and his brother, Richy, in 2015, Comic Cure combines the passions of both brothers while supporting deserving non-profits within the community.


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Take This Short Survey to Help Advertising Students

Did you know that UM’s advertising program is the first in the nation to place in the top four out of more than 150 schools in the National Student Advertising Competition four years in a row, with two of those top-four finishes rendering the team national champions? You can help the school’s NSAC team gather the research they need to reach first place again by taking and sharing this quick survey, www.tinyurl.com/miami-nsac.

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