programming/curriculum design resources
April 4, 2016 11:59 AM   Subscribe

I have the opportunity to pitch a film screening/discussion series at a local music school where I take classes. I have no idea how to craft a pitch or put together a program of this sort. How do I begin?

The stakes are low - this is a music school for hobbyists, not Juilliard or anything like that. I have been taking classes with them for a year now and the owner of the school mentioned to me recently that he has always wanted to do more movie screenings (films about music, or music documentaries) and talkbacks in the space but doesn't have the time or the knowledge to program something like that. I have a degree in film (concentrating in musicals), a deep love of music documentaries, and the ability to lead discussions about film theory and American pop culture, and this is exactly the kind of project I'd love to take on.

He has tasked me with giving him a pitch of how I'd envision a film/discussion series of this sort and wants to lean towards structuring it more like a class and less like a random community film screening thing (of which we have a lot in our town). I kind of have a vague sense of which movies would be great to cover and what I could say about said movies, but I have no idea how to craft a pitch for something like this, or how to design a "curriculum" of sorts. Does anyone have any advice for how to do this, or easy to access resources for how to do this?

Again, this is super low stakes - this is not a music school that confers degrees or prepares people for careers in musical theater or anything like that, there will be no tests or exams or grades or anything of that sort. Primarily it's a school that provides lessons to kids who want to learn musical instruments or voice technique and it also has music classes for adults - this film screening/discussion series would be a part of the adult programming.

Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!
posted by thereemix to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Generally teachers start with a set of objectives and work backwards from there. So think of 4 or 5 bullet-point "by the end of this series, participants will be able to/will understand/will experience" as your high-level objectives. Then for each one of those objectives, develop a list of activities or discussions that will accomplish that objective for the participants. Then from there you can organize those activities into sequential lesson plans.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:29 PM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I kind of have a vague sense of which movies would be great to cover and what I could say about said movies

Start by writing down a tentative list of movies and things you would like to say about them. See if some themes begin to emerge. Do some brainstorming for how to frame it. As you firm up a concept of what your are trying to teach, whittle down or add to the list so the syllabus more closely fits the stated educational goal.

For your pitch, develop a good title and an "elevator pitch." In other words, you want to be able to explain the most important aspects clearly and accurately in just a few sentences. If the title and elevator pitch are good, there will be room to expand on your ideas. If they aren't, no amount of expanding is likely to help.
posted by Michele in California at 12:46 PM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had to do this for a DIY teaching space never having actually taught a class like this before. To write the pitch I checked out a bunch of classes already running in the space and wrote a proposal that copied that style, even the style of Title:Teacher name (my credits, etc) Try that!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:46 PM on April 4, 2016

Do you think the director has something he wants to see, i.e. criteria you need to meet? And are you interested in a specific vision (only) or would you change your plan to meet those criteria? I'd consider a pre-proposal meetup where you run down a list of questions:
- frequency - weekly? monthly?
- do students sign up for the series or individual discussions? i.e. same students every week or whoever shows up? (Part of what makes it a class and a series instead of just a community film screening is that the discussion can be about how this week's movie relates to previous ones, not just on its own.)
- how big is the space, how many people do you expect, and how would that change the discussion dynamic (strong lead from you vs more spontaneous)
- how long is the time block, and is that flexible for different movie lengths (i.e. 2.5 hours vs movie with 15 mins intro and 30 mins post-discussion)
- provide your list of movies and make sure you and he are thinking along the same lines.

Then, after the discussion, should be easy to write down what you agreed on.
posted by aimedwander at 2:19 PM on April 4, 2016

Are you planning on actually licensing these films for viewing or just using DVDs and hope the rights holders don't find out? If the screenings are free for invited audiences only, you will probably be okay.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:29 PM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

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