Feb 10 - Apr 17
Directing: Core Elements
Registration is now closed for this session.
Alex Smith

The application period for this course has ended. Watch the Sundance Collab newsletter for updates on future course offerings.

Learn the core elements of directing fiction films—from pre-production to working with actors and more—with experienced directors as your guides. During this live, online course intended for those new to directing, you’ll learn how to assemble your crew, work with actors, and translate work from script-to-screen by directing and filming a scene. 

In class sessions, you will analyze clips from full-length feature films that exemplify important concepts, complete interactive exercises, and discuss concepts and raise questions with others in your course. Weekly homework is reviewed by your course advisor and is designed to prepare you to direct and shoot your exercise scene. The course concludes with a one-on-one mentoring session focused on your scene and questions you may have about the field.

By the end of the course you will:

  • Understand the creative role of the director in every phase of production.
  • Analyze a script and break down a scene.
  • Learn the fundamentals of directing actors including casting, rehearsal, and on set work to obtain the best possible performances.
  • Block a scene.
  • Use tools for mapping your shoot such as storyboards and lined scripts.
  • Learn the fundamentals of creative storytelling in post-production.

This course is ideal for:

  • Those new to directing.
  • Documentary filmmakers making the transition into fiction work.
  • Directors without formal training who would like to sharpen their skills with professional guidance.

Course enrollment is approximately 36 participants per session, with an advisor to student ratio of 12 to one. Participants will use Frame.io to share their work and provide feedback to their peers. 


The course will be held live in our virtual classroom. All sessions are recorded for registered participants who are unable to attend live.

  • DURATION: Nine weeks, February 10 - April 11
  • SCHEDULE: Wednesday, 10am - 12:00pm PT
    • Extended first class session: Wednesday, February 10, 10am - 1pmPT
    • No class session: Wednesday, March 17
    • One-on-one mentoring sessions are held between Apr 5 - Apr 11
Woodstock, NY, USA
Alex is a screenwriter, filmmaker and educator who grew up on a ranch in western Montana. His feature film WALKING OUT, which he made with his twin brother, Andrew, was nominated for the Grand Jury prize at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. The Smith Brothers also wrote, directed and produced the contemporary Indian Cowboy film WINTER IN THE BLOOD, which won numerous awards and is distributed by Kino Lorber. more...
From high school drop out to professor, native Detroiter Ka’ramuu (pronounced kah-rah-moo) earned his reputation as a self-taught creator of independent short form cinema. After earning his BA from THE NEW SCHOOL/LANG COLLEGE and MFA from SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE, he earned his MFA at AFI Conservatory. His graduating class was ranked #1 film school in the world by HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. more...
Darius Dawson is an LA-based director currently in pre-production to direct second unit on Peter Farrelly’s next feature, set in New Orleans and Thailand. His short films have screened at many festivals and garnered several awards. His AFI thesis, A RODEO FILM, won the 2019 DGA Student Grand Prize Award, the Golden Tadpole at the 2020 Camerimage Cinematography Festival and was selected as one of five films to take part in HBO’s Short Film Competition in Miami. more...

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