I am an Assistant Professor of Film at Portland State University, co-author of the 7th edition of Directing the Documentary, and a frequent presenter at community film events.

I have over 17 years of full-time teaching experience instructing bachelor’s degree-seeking students in film and video production at regionally accredited institutions. I have designed and taught over 25 courses covering many aspects of film production from story development to marketing & distribution.  My specialty areas are documentary filmmaking and professional development.


My former students are counted among independent filmmakers and media professionals from New York to Los Angeles and points between.

I earned an MFA degree in Film and Video Production from Columbia College Chicago.

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Branded Media Production

I developed Branded Media Production as an intensive production course for intermediate and advanced students studying film production at Portland State University.

Students work in small production units to produce professional quality, short form branded media videos for real clients. 

During the term, students meet with the clients to determine their needs as they relate to the communication of the organization’s brand to a target audience.  Students then prepare and deliver a formal pitch presentation to the clients—feedback from which is integrated into the final concepts for the projects.  Students manage all aspects of production—from ideation to delivery.

 

Inviting collaborations with clients raises the stakes for students, copies a process that students might find when making work professionally in the future, and offers a built-in audience and distribution opportunities.

In Fall 2016, the Branded Media Production class produced 7 tourism spots for their campaign "Portland:  You are Here", which was included in the Hollywood Theatre PDX microcinema's inaugural program.  They worked with Looptworks, a sustainable apparel company that "upcycles" discarded goods into high quality products, to create 3 brand story videos.

In Fall 2018, students produced 7 “spots” for their campaign, “Portland State Film: Framing the Future”, which showed on a public screen on campus.  They worked with Oregon Wild, a conservation non-profit, on 4 “brand story” videos, and with Explore Nature, a consortium of environmental conservation groups, on twenty, 1-minute “highlight” videos.

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Portfolio and Professional

Development

Annually since Spring 2016, I have facilitated  Portfolio and Professional Development, an experience that culminates in a portfolio show held at Portland State University.

The course asks graduating students to investigate their interests, values, personality, and skills as the basis for discovery and communication of their personal brand as they begin their careers.  To discover career goals and set a path to attaining them, students undertake a series of short research projects, in-class writing exercises, and oral presentations. 

 

In service to communicating their personal brand, students prepare marketing materials (a portfolio website, a resume, a generic and a tailored cover letter, a business card) and a reel or reels highlighting generalist and/or specialist skill sets in media production.

At the end of the term, students present themselves as emerging professionals to the school community, alumni, peers, friends, family, and to established media professionals.

 

The portfolio show manufactures a reason for students to reach out to local professionals, serves as a marketing tool for the course itself among lower level students, establishes a culture of career planning in the program, keeps the program on the radar of the local creative community, provides a destination for students’ work, creates a meaningful deadline for student completion of marketing materials, raises the stakes for the course deliverables, offers a safe space in which students can present themselves as professionals for the first time, and formalizes the transition from classroom to job market.

Advanced Production

Workshop

Advanced Production Workshop serves those students who have completed at least one of Portland State Film's production tracks. Students with diverse interests convene and collaborate on mature work that can be used in portfolios and offered to outside distribution channels including film festivals and online streaming. 

Each student authors their own film in a chosen genre:  experimental, fiction, documentary, branded media, or music video.  Delivery deadlines throughout the term keep students on track to complete a project from concept to completion in 11 weeks.

Students are asked to invest in their classmates' processes; invoking a collaborative spirit that yields opportunities for student participation in an array of projects, each with its own storytelling, producing, aesthetic, logistical, and technical challenges.  Because students crew on each other's projects, the experience is intended to produce high quality assets they can use in their individual portfolios. 

 

During the term, students develop marketing materials (full website + poster/postcard) and a distribution plan during the term to ready themselves to screen their work publicly.  This activity supports the notion that films are made to be shared with audiences, which serves to professionalize the work to a greater degree.

© 2020 by Courtney Hermann

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