Fall 2018 X-Studio: How to Overthrow the US Government—Jacques Servin and Caveh Zahedi

Film Production: How To Overthrow the US Government (Legally)

LCST 4064 AX (CRN 7716)

Fridays 7-9:40pm


**Students are selected for the class by AUDITION ONLY. If you are interested in being selected for the class please email the faculty at:
zahedic@newschool.edu
Caveh will give instructions on the audition process.

“How To Overthrow the US Government (legally)” will be on the one hand a class on how to contribute with creative means to meaningful political change, and on the other a production class on making a web show about taking a class on how to contribute with creative means to meaningful political change. Students will participate in both aspects, but it will be up to them which aspect they emphasize.

The class will be co-taught by Caveh Zahedi—whose second season of The Show About the Show recently premiered at Sundance—and Yes Men co-founder Jacques Servin—who has directed many performance pieces and co-directed three feature films. It will do two things: on the one hand, it will serve as a laboratory of ideas on how best to transform our country from the plutocracy it has become into a true democracy using the creative skills we happen to have on hand as artists, filmmakers, etc.; and on the other hand, it will be a class on producing and using media (in this case, a show about the class) in order to help disseminate mobilizing ideas—in this case, not only the specific change-oriented creative ideas that arise, but the more powerful mobilizing idea that anyone can use whatever skills happen to be on hand to resist tyranny and effect positive change.

Since the class will run during the run up to the midterm Fall elections, we plan to create specific election-related political action campaigns (creative, since the class will be composed of artists and film students) and to document both the process of coming up with those action campaigns and their execution. The idea is not only to take learning out of the classrooms and into the voting booths but also to shed light on the ways in which the personal is political by using the internal politics of a classroom as a microcosm for our society as a whole—and consciously emphasizing those dynamics. Being fully engaged in such dynamics, while staying sufficiently removed to observe (and use) themselves as characters, will be a skill that will serve students well in a wide variety of contexts, from performance art to filmmaking to academia.

Students will be admitted to the class based on an audition by the faculty. Any Parsons Fine Arts student interested in being auditioned should write an email to the Program Director at: aziza@newschool.edu

Faculty BIOS:

Jacques Servin is one of the founders of the Yes Men, a group that uses humor to achieve media attention for under-reported issues, or to highlight under-reported aspects of issues. Called “the Jonathan Swift of the Jackass generation” by author Naomi Klein, the Yes Men have impersonated spokesmen for Halliburton, Dow, the World Trade Organization, the Bush administration, and others on television and at business conferences worldwide. They do this for two reasons: (a) in order to to focus public attention on the dangers of economic policies that place the rights of capital before the needs of people and the environment, (b) because it’s absurdly fun, and (c) to get other people involved.

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Caveh Zahedi is an autobiographical filmmaker and the creator of The Show About the Show, a critically acclaimed web series in which each episode is about the making of the previous episode. Season 2 premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and Season 1 is currently available on youTube. His feature-length films include The Sheik and I (2012), I Am A Sex Addict (2006), In The Bathtub of the World (2001), I Don’t Hate Las Vegas Anymore, (1994), and A Little Stiff (1991). He has a B.A. in Philosophy from Yale University and an M.F.A. in Film Production from UCLA. He is a Guggenheim recipient, a Rome Prize Fellow, a MacDowell Fellow, and a winner of the 2005 Gotham Award for “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.” He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Film Institute, the Sundance Documentary Fund, Creative Capital, and The San Francisco Arts Commission. A 6-disc box set of his films was released by Factory 25 in 2015.