ASPIRING FILM DIRECTORS LEARN TO SET THE SCENE FROM AN ACTOR'S PERSPECTIVE
Several years ago, faculty members of the Television-Radio-Film (TRF) Program noticed a recurring problem when students began work on their final projects. The aspiring directors were so wrapped up in the technical aspects of film production, they often failed to share their vision with the actors hired to help make that vision a reality.
In hopes of enhancing communication between directors and actors, the TRF Program added a new course, Directing Actors, to its curriculum. The four-week, one-credit course has since become one of the program's most sought-after electives. "Our main goal is to give student directors opportunities to learn about the other side of the camera," says TRF professor Peter Moller, who will teach the course this spring. "I am pleased to say there are usually more students who want to take the course than we have room for. Students sense how important these issues are. As a result, final projects have dramatically improved."
Directing Actors is one of several mini-courses offered to students to supplement the core curriculum. "Over the years, students have come to us and said they want to learn more specifics about directing,'" Moller says. "Mini-courses give students an opportunity to study aspects of directing more thoroughly."
Students take Directing Actors at the end of their junior year, after having spent a few semesters examining and comparing directing styles. While some Hollywood-based directors favor the approach used by legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcockwho "saw actors as cattle that needed to be led around," Moller saysthe mini-course encourages a more humanistic approach. "We get the students in front of the camera so they experience the importance of explaining their techniques to actors," Moller says. "They quickly learn how this helps the actor interpret scenes, which ultimately makes for a better performance."
Students perform brief monologues on film to gauge how emotions and actions translate onto celluloid. Scenes are less than a minute long and, after shooting, are closely scrutinized by the entire class. "Students identify what they want to do in a scene, the tone of the scene, and the dramatic elements," Moller says. "We encourage them to ask themselves how to achieve the emotion or action they want. If we accomplish only that in four weeks, that is enough."
NEW GRADUATES HONE CRITICAL CARE SKILLS THROUGH HOSPITAL INTERNSHIPS
The intensive care units (ICUs) at University Hospital in Syracuse can be intimidating places for new nurse practitioners, as fast-paced, life-or-death situations test even the best and brightest. Michele Papalia '98 was fairly confident of her skills and knowledge when, soon after graduating from the SU College of Nursing, she began working at the hospital as a critical care nurse. But the hospital's internship programwhich allows College of Nursing graduates up to six months of supervision and support as temporary, entry-level registered nurses (RNs)gave her some breathing room.
"There are so many things you need to train for and do in the ICUs," says Papalia, who interned for two months before starting her job full time. "I gained self-confidence. The internship ensures that you're ready as a practitioner to step out on your own."
The hospital started the internships three years ago as it began hiring more College of Nursing graduates for the ICUs, says Ann Sedore G'88, chief nursing officer and director of patient care operations. "The orientation time in the intensive care units was set up for people with experience," she says, "so we were anxious to provide an option for new graduates in critical care that would allow them a bit more time and support during their transition to that environment."
Sedore, an adjunct professor at the College of Nursing, says the interns get an entry-level salary, but no benefits. "It's an option for new graduates," she says. "The more confident grads can go right into those positions as full-time employees." Participants may end their internships at any point and move into available full-time positions when they feel they are ready. "It's a gentle way to introduce them to a pretty complex system," she says.
Interns are assigned to a preceptoran experienced staff member who acts as a mentorand work the same hours as that person. "The interns are expected to take on the responsibilities of an RN, but get more direct oversight and instruction," Sedore says. "They usually have lighter assignments for a longer time. In the ICUs they run the monitor equipment, the IVsall the physical care for the patients."
Once the nurses finish their internships, there are almost always positions for them. "The nursing shortage is critical right now," Sedore says. "We've encouraged our relationship with the College of Nursing because of its quality program. We are looking to keep as many graduates in the community as we can."
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