December 14, 2009

McKenna, David Silver_nugget
Script Analysis

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I have no idea why this course hasn't been reviewed yet, it is easily the best course I have taken at Columbia, and expect to take, and McKenna is one of the best professors I've ever had. He knows his subject to near perfection and is a true orator. He's entertaining and intelligent, basically all that can be asked for in a teacher. His presentation of the material is nearly perfect. There was a point when he read monologue from Henry V and I was moved to tears by the off-hand performance. He's really a one-of-a-kind professor, and an inspiration, no matter how humble he tries to play himself off as.

Lots of students won't like his unorthodox and disorganized approach, and everyone's going to say this: McKenna is terrible at planning assignments. He's not in the room to be a conventional professor, and he knows it. He has no rubric of how assignments are graded (leaving it up to TAs), and he really just doesn't care about deadlines. However, his Director's Prep and Script Synopsis assignments are perfect for the course and incredibly enlightening, and while I had to rely a lot on my TA to make these assignments clear, he was honest in letting us know how important they were to understanding the essence of understanding a script.

It's true (at least this semester) that the TAs have to pick up a lot of slack, but they did it REALLY well, aside from sorting out the deadlines effectively. In the end, everything worked out, and though McKenna is a character, he gets the point across and addresses student questions intelligently, and his TAs will pick it up if he doesn't know how to answer.

Sure, McKenna has an opinion and an approach, but he admits this dozens and dozens of times, professing that his way of structuring a script isn't the only tool to use, and he challenges students to go out and take what he's taught them to entirely new levels. I can figure that not everyone is going to think he was so great, he's definitely got his weaknesses, but the beauty is that he's become very aware of these weaknesses and will admit to them outright.

He's a very self-aware human being, and however vulgar he might be, he has an excellent comprehension of human psychology and just listening to his dozens of anecdotes is inspiring to anyone who wants to write or direct films or theater. When he had Chrisopher Vogler (the writer of his course book, who he's good friends with) come in, their discussion immediately inspired me and made me realize what I needed to do to make a script idea work.

Overall, amazing class for me.

Workload:

have to read three scripts; for one of them you do a synopsis, for one you do a synopsis in which you point out the 12-step narrative structure, and for the last one you do an entire director's preparation.