Sandra Luckow is the most self-obsessed, manipulative and exhausting professor I have ever had during my four years at Columbia. I do not believe I have ever encountered a less experienced yet blindly narcissistic individual. For the love of god do NOT TAKE SANDRA'S COURSE. I am fully, 100% convinced that the only positive review on CULPA was written by her. She is the very definition of "Those who can't do, teach."
Easily the best professor I've ever had. This woman is an absolute gem...she is a beyond brilliant filmmaker and teacher. Her technical skills are exceptional. Perhaps the best professor I've ever had. I IMPLORE you to take her class if you can fit it into your schedule. Rather than so many of the arrogant professors you find at esteemed universities, Sandra is an actual, understanding, real human who wants to be your friend. She has a tough sense of humor sometimes but she always means well. If she picks on you it means she likes you! I really hope I keep in touch with her.
Sandra is loud, opinionated and the antithesis of a Columbia academic. Making no attempt to be politically correct, she frequently uses class time to tell lengthy stories from her personal life and has poor time management skills. Her senior film production seminar is a huge time commitment and offers students little but a camaraderie in their misery.
At her best, Sandra is entertaining. At her worst, she is a self-aggrandizing, dismissive bully. She praised herself on her intimate teaching methods, which in reality was a messy/awkward mix of over-sharing and prying, never in ways that seemed relevant or conducive to the learning environment. The structure of the class was all over the place â€“ we rarely followed the syllabus and she admitted several times that she was basically making it up as we went along (often blaming our class's inexperience as the hinderance.) The workload was not bad until the end of the semester when she expected us to cast, shoot, and edit a 10-minute film in two weeks. Ultimately, I never got the sense that she cared about the success or education of her students nearly as much as she enjoyed hearing herself speak.
Your grade will reflect how much you enjoy the class and how much you like Sandra. You will have a "love" or "hate" relationship with Sandra. Those who find themselves with the latter may try their best to suck up, cover up their disdain, smile a lot in class, look interested, and so on but the teacher's strong personality will ultimately render you unable to mask your dislike. and for that youll suffer consequences, be it small but obviously. Sandra in turn, pokes fun at ALL her students equally, holds herself above others, and will probably NOT remember your name after you leave. She is brash and will say what's on her mind REGARDLESS OF ITS RELEVANCE TO THE CLASS. while she is enthusiastic she doesn't care about her students...or pretends not to, which is even more annoying. This is supposed to be a very practical class.. I think? That being said, an entire semester devoted to filmmaking leaves you with little more than anything except a knowledge of finalcut, and that depends on what you decided to learn on your own.
This class is a huge amount of work and if you are not fully devoted to film, I would not suggest taking it. Some of the assignments were fun and interesting, but others were not and presented a struggle. This class is incredibly time consuming, but if you are interested in becoming a film maker, definitely take it. Sandra is a really interesting woman. She has a great sense of humor and always has a ton of funny stories to tell. She is, however, very blunt and straight forward so it is necessary to have a thick skin upon entering her classroom. While she may tell it like it is without a filter, she truly cares about her students and her job.
This class is a TON of work. Do not take this class if you already have a tough work load. Every week you are responsible to film and and edit your work on Final Cut. The film shoot can take 5 hours and the editing process is another 5 hours. The class itself is also incredibly long. Also, there are reading responses due each week. The positive is that Sandra is an easy grader and she realizes that mostly everyone in the class is a beginner. She doesn't seem to realize how much time and energy her class consumes for a student on top of all their other classes. She is a really interesting person and I enjoyed her quirky sense of humor and her anecdotes. If you want to go into Film or Film Production this is probably the class for you. The talks a lot about the industry and obstacles you will face. I took this class just to fulfill my art req. - which i do not recommend doing.
I disagree with the reviewer who based his/her review around Sandra's being "insufferably vain, pretentious and self-obsessed." She is not any of those things, nor should a professor's personality traits factor that much into how much one learns in a class. Sandra does talk about her work over the course of the semester, and she does criticize ours, but anything and everything she does in class is meant to help us learn what to do and what not to do, how our work is perceived by others, and what it is to be a filmmaker. Sandra was an exceedingly dedicated instructor and mentor. Despite her busy schedule and the fact that she commutes to the city every week, she was perfectly willing to meet before or after class to help work on projects. In class, it is true that she could be quite critical about our work; it could be disheartening to have worked for hours upon hours on projects all week, only to be told that our methods and/or execution were way off. But that is the best way to learn to be a competent artist and filmmaker -- I would much rather have constructive and humbling criticism than idle and undeserved praise. I learned so, so much in this class. I didn't always agree with Sandra's or the class's feedback, and in those instances, was never required to follow their advice. But every point of criticism or personal anecdote from Sandra contributed to my knowledge and experience in the field of film, to my development of a narrative voice, and most importantly, to the advancement of my own personal ideas of what should be considered good filmmaking. I never felt "humiliated;" it was always okay to disagree with Sandra, as long as you approached each class with an open mind and a readiness to learn. So don't take this class if you can't take criticism; don't take this class if you have staunch opinions about your work that you're not willing to reconsider for the objective of becoming a better and more informed filmmaker. DO take this class if you are interested in filmmaking, don't know enough about it, and want to learn from an enthusiastic, honest, and dedicated professor with loads of experience, both as a professor and as an industry professional.
Sandra Luckow is simply the worst professor I have ever had in my 3 years at Columbia. While we watched a lot of interesting films in this class which did help me learn about the history and different styles of documentary filmmaking, Sandra Luckow seems to me insufferably vain, pretentious and self-obsessed. She forced us to watch and praise all of her own work, she continually compared herself and her work to that of great filmmakers, namedropped, and even went so far as to say that Best in Show was inspired by a film on ventriloquism that she made! She also humiliated several students for making commets she didn't deem valid. She was also, in my opinion, a terrible lecturer, frequently merely reading extensive passages from IMDB rather than coming up with her own material that we couldn't read ourselves online. She is an intelligent woman who I believe does know a lot about documentary filmmaking, but I really felt like her lectures were more irksome than constructive, and that most of what I learned came from my great TA (Chris Radcliffe) in discussion section. I would not recommend this class if it is taught by her.
She is an extremely qualified and insightful instructor. Her indepth discussion of each film within her own realm of view, however, provide too much bias for the screening of the film as well as give the students an overall air of arrogance. Her choices of film are always interesting and fresh, but at times the length of the class can be tiring, especially considering her pension for letting students out late. Overall, Luckow knows a lot about her profession and genuinely wishes to impart this knowledge on her students. I would recommend the class to anyone who is willing to work, and deal with at times unbearable narcissism.