Filmmaking Studio

“A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.” -Orson Welles

Chicago’s iconic skyline and history have made it the backdrop for countless famous movies and TV shows. As a result, Chicago has a thriving filmmaking community. This course will help filmmakers develop their own camera vision and craft a compelling visual narrative that taps into the vast resources of the Windy City. Analyze and critique scenes from classic and groundbreaking films. Then, with a small team, create a short film from start to finish. Working through the creative planning process—generate ideas, develop the narrative, and storyboard the main sequences. Collaborate with your film team on plot and structure, character development, and screenplay writing. Through development, you’ll get comfortable with professional equipment and editing software, learn about camera techniques, framing, staging, lighting, and sound. With the resources of the Chicago film industry steps away from campus, learn how to scout locations, how to collaborate when on set, and how to get your best ideas in front of the industry influencers while visiting film productions studios. Learn how to take your work to the next level through film financing and distribution or through submitting to film festivals, and experience what it feels like to screen a film when you present your finished work.

All students will be required to bring a laptop.

Who Should Take This Course?

Whether you see the world frame-by-frame or think you have a story fit for the screen, this course is for students who want to explore the creative process, make a short film, and stage a premiere. All experience levels are welcome — no prior filmmaking experience required.

Advisors + Past Speakers

  • Marion Bradford, Producer
  • Woodrow Travers, Assistant Director, Producer
  • Pamela Yates, Documentary Filmmaker
  • Jonathan London, Director, Producer + Founder of Geekscape
  • Daryn Carp, Producer, Director + Media Personality, Bravo
  • J.V. Hart, Screenwriter
  • Dan Bree, Executive Producer + Showrunner
  • Rachel Cole + Nick Weiss-Richmond, Filmmakers, Screenwriters + Directors
  • Jason Y. Lee, Founder, Jubilee Media
  • Lisa Gossels, Filmmaker

Plan your summer


Course Highlights

  • Film Studio Visit

    Chicago is home to a multi-million dollar film industry. Visit a local studio and see how working professionals stage and craft productions on set. Meet with writers, producers, cinematographers, and directors to learn the art and science behind the craft.

  • Manual Camera Operation

    Learn to operate a DSLR camera. Gain an understanding of how changing resolution and frames per second, shutter speed, ISO, and aperture produce strikingly different results.

  • Storyboarding

    Explore the art of storyboarding while developing compelling narratives and visualizing scenes. Using the story as a guide, build a shot list to direct the camera and capture precise, detailed looks needed while filming.

  • Red Carpet Premiere

    In a professional cinema, premiere your film to a live audience at the end of the session film festival.

I really enjoyed making the first film and then shooting our final product. It was very easy to speak up in class; we were given lots of opportunities to participate and share our opinions. And the fact that we got to screen our work on the final night at EXPLOpalooza made this class so much more fun because we knew that all of EXPLO would see our work!

Advisors + Past Speakers

Marion Bradford


Marion Bradford is a producer with Amanpour & Company a new global affairs program which airs weeknights across the nation on PBS and internationally on CNN. Previous to this role, she was a producer with acclaimed journalist Tina Brown. Before working in news media, Bradford got her start in film working most notably with award-winning directors Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig. Originally from Maine and a graduate of Bowdoin College, Marion cares deeply about storytelling and social change.

Woodrow Travers

Assistant Director, Producer

Woodrow is an Assistant Director and Producer, known for The Dark Knight Rises, John Wick and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Woodrow is also known for his work on The Girl on the Train, St. Vincent, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Jack Ryan: the Shadow Recruit, R.I.P.D., The Amazing Spider-Man.

Pamela Yates

Documentary Filmmaker

Pamela Yates is a notable documentary filmmaker who directed the Sundance Award winning When the Mountains Tremble, produced the Emmy Award winning The Loss of Innocence, and produced the Academy Award winning Witness to War. Her film Granito: How to Nail a Dictator served as key evidence in the Rios Montt genocide trial in Guatemala. Yates is a co-founder and Creative Director of Skylight Pictures, a “company committed to producing artistic, challenging, and socially relevant independent media on issues of human rights.”

Jonathan London

Director, Producer + Founder of Geekscape

Jonathan London is a writer and director of both short films and music videos. London offers reviews and analysis in the realms of gaming, television and film. The owner and host of the podcast and news network Geekscape, a multimedia entertainment platform, London graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and the Film School at Columbia University.

Daryn Carp

Producer, Director + Media Personality, Bravo

Daryn Carp is a former NBC page turned assistant to pop icon Andy Cohen of Bravo. Carp’s education and interest in PR and marketing led her to media and entertainment. Together, Cohen and Carp started a new production company, Most Talkative. Carp currently serves as Cohen’s Chief of Staff and hosts a web series she created called Ask Andy.

J.V. Hart


J.V. Hart is an award winning screenwriter and author known for his literary adaptations of Dracula, Frankenstein, and Peter Pan. Hart’s notable screenwriting credits include Contact, Hook, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Hart has served on the faculty of the Columbia University Graduate Film Program, and has been a mentor and advisor at the Austin Writer’s Ranch, Sundance Film Labs, and the eQuinoxe-Europe Writing Workshops.

Dan Bree

Executive Producer + Showrunner

Dan Bree is a nonfiction television showrunner and executive producer based in Los Angeles. He has produced, written and supervised over 80 hours of adventure, travel, science, technology and history programming for ABC, Animal Planet, the National Geographic Channel, History, Science Channel, Discovery Channel and PBS. His series include Off the Hook: Extreme Catches on Animal Planet, Hard Time on National Geographic, Safari Brothers on National Geographic Wild, Sliced on History, Build it Bigger on Science Channel and Catching Monsters on Discovery Channel.

Rachel Cole + Nick Weiss-Richmond

Filmmakers, Screenwriters + Directors

Rachel Cole and Nick Weiss-Richmond are film directors and producers who co-directed the film The Big Cheat, a short film about high school students running a cheating ring that was featured at the Sedona Film Festival. Weiss-Richmond has written and directed many other notable films and serves as a film editor and adjunct professor of cinematography at Adelphi University. Cole is an interdisciplinary artist who works primarily in performance and video and hosts a monthly film and video open mic night in Brooklyn.

Jason Y. Lee

Founder, Jubilee Media

Jason Lee is the founder of digital media startup Jubilee Media, a “video company for curious, purpose-driven millenials” with a mission to create a movement of young changemakers. Jubilee creates original videos about meaningful human experiences, connections, and questions. Lee also founded Jubilee’s non-profit arm that has initiatives like the Fellowship Program, “an immersive mentorship program where aspiring filmmakers are given the opportunity to collaborate with like minded creatives.”

Lisa Gossels


Lisa Gossels is an Emmy® Award-winning documentarian whose films “The Children of Chabannes” and “My So-Called Enemy” have garnered 20 honors and awards, screened at 100 film festivals and aired on HBO, PBS and the WORLD Channel. “The Children of Chabannes,” which received a national Emmy® and 10 awards, has been cited as “One of the most heartening Holocaust films ever made–splendid, informative and emotionally involving,” (Los Angeles Times) and “A seamless memoir of courage and a tribute to the human spirit.” (New York Daily News) Beyond her documentary work, Lisa creates video content for foundations, nonprofits and corporations through her New York City-based company, Good Egg Productions.