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Film Studies

The Breakdown

You’ve been obsessed since your first experience; the anticipation of the lights going down, the rustling of popcorn and the chance to escape for a few hours. You appreciate that film is truly a powerful medium. You recognize how it can be used to teach or to inspire reflection and even change. Of course, you also value the entertainment factor and the ability to keep the real world at bay. In short, you were born to make movies. And perhaps the first step towards making cinematic history is film school.

Film programs, on the whole, aim to balance production and theory. As a student, you’ll study the history of cinema and the role film has played as a social and political tool. You will also sharpen your critical eye, examining seminal works for cultural relevance, story and techniques. As you start becoming well versed in the language of film, you’ll begin putting theory to practice. Through courses in screenwriting, directing, editing, sound and lighting design, you will learn how to execute all aspects of filmmaking. And you’ll come to understand what is involved in managing a production and navigating a set.

As both a film student and filmmaker, it’s clearly important to have a passion for telling stories. Indeed, you’ll need a strong sense of narrative structure and an understanding for how to marry images with the written word. You will also find that attention to detail and acute observational skills are essential. Moreover, you’ll come to realize patience is most definitely a virtue (especially after you’ve been filming take after take of the same scene). Further, at its core, filmmaking is a collaborative endeavor so clear and open communication is vital along with the ability to work with others. Finally, to survive (and thrive) will require tenacity and a strong belief in whatever project you choose to engage.

Nuts and Bolts

Film students have the opportunity to sink their teeth into virtually every aspect of their beloved art form. Possible course selections might include: Introduction to Visual Storytelling, Screenwriting Fundamentals, Digital Arts: Evolution and Aesthetics, Propaganda Film, History of European Film, Photography, Digital Non-Linear Editing, Actor-Director Workshop, Multi-Camera Field Production, The Documentary Tradition, Writing the Adaptation, Production and Set Management and Visual Perception and Expression.

Decisions, Decisions

Film majors are drawn to fields that call for self-expression and storytelling. Therefore, they are likely to also enjoy advertising, creative writing, graphic design, digital media, photography, studio art, art history, communications, English, theater, art education, animation, illustration, rhetoric, dance, video production, film/television/radio or technical theater.

What's Next

Film is a competitive industry. You know this. The odds of becoming the next Spielberg or Scorsese aren’t necessarily in your favor. However, fret not; there are plenty of creative and satisfying positions to take on until you sell that first screenplay. Certainly, students find PA gigs with television shows or films currently in production. While these positions often involve a lot of grunt work, it’s a great way to see professionals in action and to make connections. Some jobs might be on set while others will have you working in-house, perhaps helping to secure locations or permits for filming. Of course, recent grads can also land jobs with production companies. Positions can vary and include anything from script reading to assisting in the creation of marketing and promotional materials. Those with a strong interest in post-production are often fortunate enough to secure editing assistant jobs. Naturally, some grads work outside of the production scene, finding jobs with film festivals or art house cinemas. And still others transfer their interests and talents to other related industries like advertising and journalism.


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Don Munce