December 11, 2010

McKenna, David Silver_nugget
Script Analysis

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

On the last day of this class, our TA asked the discussion section what we thought were the best and worst parts of the class. We proceeded to spend the next hour listing all the problems we had with McKenna and the structure of the class. It simply was not a good course. Of course, it's a requirement for the major, so it will continue to fill up no matter what, but if you're not a film major and therefore don't need this class, it's sort of a waste of time. Just look up Vogler's "12 Steps" and read some screenplays on your own time, and you've basically taken the class.

The entire course is spent learning an extremely simple concept that McKenna somehow manages to stretch over 12 weeks, 3 hours a week. There was no reason for this. Sure, it was somewhat interesting, but it could easily have been taught within the first couple of weeks of the class, and then we could have gone on to learn more interesting methods of script analysis.

The one nice thing about the course were the TAs. First of all, they definitely realized how crazy McKenna was, so they took that into consideration when assigning and grading work. They also gave little mini-lectures throughout the semester, in which they taught about specific aspects of script analysis or screenwriting. It was a nice break from McKenna, and we actually learned more from these than we did from him.

All in all, the workload is pretty light and it's all interesting. This is the one class that I've ever actually enjoyed doing my homework for, because it's just reading and talking about screenplays.

McKenna tries unbelievably hard to make himself seem cool. He'll curse and talk about smoking and sex and drugs to the point where you wish he would just stop. I would have much preferred a professor who was actually teaching us useful information and making the most of the time we had in the class. This has the potential to be a really great class, but McKenna just does not take advantage of it.

Also, if you do decide to take it, watch Rocky and Romancing the Stone before the first day. And maybe even read Henry V. He references these constantly, and it's pretty pointless if you've never seen them.

Workload:

Not bad, also sort of depends on the TA. Read a screenplay and write a log line and synopsis almost every week, break down a screenplay into the 12 steps McKenna loves so much, do a line by line breakdown of a scene, and the final project is a director's prep, which is extremely time consuming and not explained particularly well, but isn't too too difficult. My TA also sometimes assigned movies for us to watch on Netflix.