Academic Pandemic

undefinedConcluded a second year as Visiting Professor in the Film department of Ringling College of Art+Design. Needless to say, this was not a typical year in academia. Mid-semester, everybody picked up and went home on the (wise) prompting of the College, to escape the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Undergraduates completed their courses on Zoom.

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Visiting Professorship During the Pandemic

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Ringling Film Department meeting before the pandemic. I’m “guarding” the Exit door in the back of the soundstage (in ballcap). Perhaps I should have done a little better guarding against the pandemic. Photo: M.Gissing

For the past two years, I’ve served as a Visiting Professor in the Film Department of Ringling College of Art+Design (in Sarasota, FL).

While the weekly commute between New Mexico and Florida was demanding, it’s been a privilege to be part of a highly ranked Film department, filled with motivated undergraduates and top-caliber faculty and staff.

That all changed 2 weeks ago — the end of Spring Break — when the College announced that it was moving to 100% online delivery of curriculum for the remainder of the Spring semester, due to the onrushing coronavirus pandemic.

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Dungball Express — All Aboard

height_90_width_90_dungball_s2e10Recorded in the antediluvian times (March 9, 2020), here I am discussing my feature film 2-WAY (and, as a warm-up, undergraduate teaching) on the New Mexican-originated Dungball Express podcast, hosted by WGA screenwriter Don Davenport and University of New Mexico Lecturer Harry Musselwhite.

If you’re sheltering in place, I hope you’ll give it a listen — you’ll get the latest update on 2-WAY‘s financing and progress towards pre-production. If you’ve got even more time on your hands, go binge-listen to The Dungball Express.

The 20/20 on 2020

It’s probably appropriate that a post about the new year gets published January 31, when the year’s already well underway. (You can see I spend a little time at Albuquerque’s Sunport: here’s a shot just before dawn one Monday morning.) So here’s the professional update:

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Heading into 2019…

2WayIf you connect with me via Facebook or LinkedIn, you already know that my independent feature film screenplay 2-WAY is headed towards production — targeting Fall 2019 if money and schedules all align.

I’m co-producing the film with partner Claudio Ruben, veteran producer and managing director at Garson Studios, which has been busier than ever hosting film/TV productions these past months. If you haven’t already followed 2-WAY on Facebook, now’s your chance. Our film’s also on Twitter and Instagram: @2waythemovie is our handle everywhere. Every follow helps us, as we continue to work on securing independent funding for the film (not surprisingly, film funding is not easy!).

20181022_183117I’m also headed into my second semester as Visiting Faculty in the Film Department of Ringling College of Art+Design in Florida. It’s been an honor being part of a department that The Hollywood Reporter ranked #15 in the nation, working with highly-motivated and creative undergraduates. It also means I rack up a lot of frequent flyer miles. 🙂

I’ve got another indie feature film screenplay (that I’m also producing) making the rounds of possible financing entities (this one’s still under wraps), and another couple of indie features in development with the hopes of moving them forward in 2019. Stay tuned — and I’ll let you know about any new developments on my professional website/blog here.

Joining Ringling College of Art+Design Faculty – F’18

RinglingCollege_Logo_1Very happy to share the news that Ringling College of Art + Design has appointed me as full-time Visiting Faculty in Film, beginning Fall 2018.

This is a very exciting opportunity, as Ringling’s Film department has been ranked #16 in The Hollywood Reporter‘s latest scorecard of American film schools, and Film Head Brad Battersby was recently named by Variety as “mentor of the year.” Visiting artists to the program have included writer/director Kevin Smith (Clerks), actor Justin Long (dozens of screen credits), actress Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation), actor Dylan McDermott (dozens of screen credits), cinematographer Wally Pfister (Inception) and many more. (Just FYI, Ringling’s Computer Animation department ranks #2 in the country!)

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One Office, Two Views

(Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ readers: click through to the original WordPress blog post so you can use the WordPress 360° photo viewer: you’ll be glad you did!)

This marks the wrap-up of my time at The Film School at Santa Fe University of Art and Design (which is closing — lock, stock and barrel — on June 30, 2018). I moved into this office in 2010, when hired as full-time screenwriting faculty for the University. Our high watermark — as a department — might have been in 2016 when we were named by trade publication Variety as one of the “entertainment schools on the move.”

Certainly that was our goal.

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Last Graduation at SFUAD

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Faculty colleague Lisa Lucas, newly minted Film graduate Gabe Gillette ’18, and moi. Minutes after the ceremony ended.

Final graduation at Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD), where I’ve served as professor of screenwriting since 2009. The University’s shuttering its doors, and once I move out of my faculty office in June, I’ll be 100% back to the freelance life. My faculty colleagues and I feel we accomplished a lot, and alumni from the past decade are now busy forging their lives and careers. It’s been a great ride, and one I’ll always treasure.

In the meantime (while I do some traveling and then start packing up the office), I’d love to invite you to check out the independent feature film I’m writing and co-producing: 2-WAY. Head to the website, then jump on the social media links and like/follow our feeds (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: whatever flavor(s) you like). Final chapter on SFUAD in June, once I’m out of the office…

Moderating Documentary Q&A Monday, 11/20, 1pm

L66MileRadius screening posterast minute notice, but I’ll be moderating a free post-screening Q&A with New Mexico documentary filmmaker Melinda Frame (principal of Frame+Work) and Santa Fe University of Art and Design faculty colleague (and Outdoor Vision Fest collaborator) Tom Miller this Monday, November 20, 1pm, at The Screen (SFUAD’s arthouse cinematheque).

The screening is of Melinda’s new documentary “66 Mile Radius“, which documents an art exhibition of the same title at Albuquerque’s renowned Tamarind Institute, a nonprofit center for fine art lithography. (You can view the trailer here.)

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Continuing On For One Final Year at SFUAD

BorstAtSFUADSadly, Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD) has announced its closure in 2018. With the academic year having recently concluded, I’ve been asked to stay on as a full-time professor in The Film School (where I’ve been teaching since 2009) for one final year — to ensure that seniors finish their BFA degree program.

I’m tremendously proud of the initiatives we launched and cultivated during my time at SFUAD: Outdoor Vision Fest® (OVF) and Shoot the Stars!®. OVF, of course, spun off into an astonishing number of directions, and had a real, long-lasting impact in Santa Fe and beyond.

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