By Amanda Young, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, April 22, 2013
Emmy-award winning producer of ?The Daily Show with Jon Stewart? Tim Greenberg ?92 and Academy Award-nominated documentary producer, editor and writer Todd Woody Richman ?92 have come a long way since they collaborated on a documentary about truckers as undergraduates in an introductory filmmaking class.
On Saturday, the two discussed their paths to the entertainment industry to a small group of students and professors in the Black Family Visual Arts Center film studio.
An hour later, students gathered upstairs to hear Mahen Bonetti, the founder and executive director of the African Film Festival in New York, speak about the burgeoning state of African cinema.
Both master classes, organized by the film and media studies department, are part of a growing trend in the department to maximize the opportunities for students to learn from distinguished filmmakers, programmers and scholars.
When alumni in the entertainment industry visit campus, the department frequently arrange master classes in order to take advantage of their visit, department chair Jeffrey Ruoff said.
?The idea is for the visitor to share his or her expertise with a small group of students who are able to ask follow-up questions and get to know the person in a way that would not be possible in a large public lecture,? he said.
This year, the department offered an increased number of master classes with funding from the Year of the Arts.
Greenberg, who heads the field department at ?The Daily Show,? previously worked as a computer graphics animator and production assistant on a film adaptation of ?The Nutcracker? and short film ?La Puppe? (2003). Greenberg?s career includes directing commercials before he landed a job as a producer on the popular Comedy Central show.
Greenberg often uses humor to make more profound points and said that drive and focus, rather than sheer talent, lead to success in the entertainment industry.
?You have to prove on your own by working for free or very little that you?re able to do the next thing you want do,? Greenberg said.
At the College, Greenberg majored in film, worked on Dartmouth Television and was a member of Bones Gate fraternity.
Richman edited, writer and co-produced the Sundance Film Festival selection ?How to Survive a Plague? (2012), co-produced and edited the Academy Award-nominated documentary ?Trouble the Water? (2008) and edited Michael Moore?s documentaries ?Fahrenheit 9/11? (2004), ?Bowling for Columbine? (2002) and ?Capitalism: A Love Story? (2012).
Richman emphasized the importance of test screening for editing.
?You need to be aware of what your audience is feeling during every second of what they?re watching,? he said.
After graduating from Dartmouth, where he majored in film, was involved with Dartmouth Radio and was a member of Bones Gate, Richman worked as a post-production intern at Miramax Films and an apprentice on independent films before editing ?Destination Unknown? (1997), launching his editing career.
Bonetti provided a different perspective on film, discussing the growth of the industry emerging from Africa and the diaspora.
She founded the festival out of a need to provide a balance to the circulating images of Africa, especially the media coverage of Ethiopia in the 1980s.
?Everyone was having a discussion about Africa but there was no African voice there,? she said. ?You get frustrated that someone always has to speak for you.?
Bonetti was attracted to film as a mechanism for change because of its ability to create powerful imprints.
Technology has shifted the creation hierarchy, growing and expanding the African filmmaking community, she said.
?You have cinema industries being created in all the regions with a vengeance,? she said. ?It?s just young people telling their stories and creating new platforms for viewers.?
Because of advancing technologies, filmmakers can more easily create videos themselves and project them for their community or neighborhood, Bonetti said.
Film and media studies major Allison Young ?13, who attended Greenberg and Richman?s talk, said master classes provide an opportunity to learn firsthand the career paths of professionals in the field.
The department offered master classes earlier this term with ?Saturday Night Live? actress Rachel Dratch ?88 and Mark Stern ?85, president of original content at the Syfy Channel.
After the Year of the Arts, Ruoff said he plans for the department to arrange at least one master class per term.
Alex Stockton ?15, the department?s student assistant, said that master classes allow students to learn the practical aspects of their studies.
?These types of events are one of the best parts of being at a films school in a major city,? he said. ?The fact that we are able to have so many out here is incredible.?