NEW MAJOR: Film: Creation and Critique

The Departments of English, Communications & Theatre, and Art have created a new Bachelors of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies focused on Film Studies to prepare students for working in the growing film and media industries. The combined resources in these departments  provide a regional resource for students who aspire to be engaged in creating, contributing to, or critiquing visual media.

Film is historically an interdisciplinary art, combining the skills of visual artists, composers and musicians, screenwriters, business entrepreneurs, directors and actors with technicians and skilled laborers. On our campus, the understanding one would need to get involved in making film or video requires courses in at least five departments (English, Communication & Theatre. Art & Design, Music, and Entrepreneurship).  This new major enables students to get a degree in Film Studies through a thoughtful degree program that provides students with foundational skills in these areas.

Significantly, these skills are not only needed for Hollywood. This program will challenge students to develop competencies in theoretical, critical, and historical approaches to films as well as the component parts to films, like photography and audio. The multiple disciplinary skills will be grounded in a foundational knowledge in communicating information effectively through film and visual media. The program will develop and expand film knowledge, writing, and technical skills required of film professionals.

Regional Market Demand

Like the MDST in Entertainment Technologies, this new MDST program will address the needs of the growing media industries.

In his article, “U.S. Film and TV Production Drives Economic Growth in Every Corner of America” Neil Fried, SVP, Government and Regulatory Affairs, notes that

In the process of producing video content for today’s audiences, the American motion picture and TV industry contributes approximately $40 billion per year in payments to more than 330,000 local businesses across the country, according to the latest economic impact figures. In all, the industry’s nationwide economic activity supports 1.9 million workers and generates $47 billion in wages. (Source: MPAA)

These figures state that the “industry is comprised of more than 94,000 businesses in total, located in every state in the country. These are mainly small businesses; 85% employ fewer than 10 people.” Sharon Pinkenson, Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, states “The advent of a film market in Philadelphia is a tangible sign that the film industry in S.E. Pennsylvania has matured and emerged as a leader in the business of film as well as the production of content.”

Major Requirements
39 credit hours (plus 9 credit hours of related course work)

This Multidisciplinary Studies Major (MDST) includes individualized concentrations distributed in three areas: Core 1/Film, Core 2/Art and Film Technology, and the Capstone Experience.

The MDST concentration in Film Studies trains students to create visual media in a variety of genres while giving them an understanding of the role of media in society. Building career credentials through knowledge and practice will be emphasized through experiential learning opportunities.

Core 1/Film

Core 1 emphasizes the narrative and cultural aspects of film. Through courses in the English Department, Film Studies students will learn about the global history of the medium, its technical and artistic elements, its social and political impacts and sensitivities, and ways to create ideas/write for the medium.

Core 2/Art and Technology

Core 2 emphasizes the visual basics of the medium in its photography classes. It will complement this knowledge with the technical courses to bring these visions into a reality through technology.

The Required Relateds

The Required Relateds cover aspects needed to round out film expertise—music, entrepreneurship, and directing. These are important aspects for pulling together effective films.

Scheduling

Film Students should take Introduction to Film, Introduction to Audio and Video, and History and Aesthetics of Photography in their second semester.

Core One: FILM (18 credit hours)

ENGL 240: Intro to Film
ENGL 481: History of Film
ENGL 482: Film and American Society Or ENGL 347: Studies of Ethnicity in Film
ENGL 483: Politics and Media
ENGL 484: Brave New Worlds: Technology and Media or ENGL 587: Special Topics in Film
ENGL 471: Creative Writing or ENGL 472: Writing Workshop (when focused on writing for film)

                                                          Core Two: ART and MEDIA TECH (18 credit hours)

ART 201: History and Aesthetics of Photography (G1)
ART 376: Intro to Photography: Digital or ART 306: Intro to Darkroom
COMM 326: Media Writing: Fiction
COMM 121: Intro to Audio and Video
COMM 206: Communication and Media Law
COMM 321: Television Production 1 or COMM 337: Documentary Filmmaking I

 

Capstone Experience (3 credit hours)                                          Related Elective Courses (9 credits)

ENGL 400 or COMM 400 Internship/co-op OR
ENGL or COMM 498: Independent Study (Creative Capstone Project) OR
COMM 437: Documentary II
ENTR 201: Art of Entrepreneurship
MUSI 201: Music and Sound in Cinema
THEA 315: Directing or THEA 2XX: Acting 1

 

COURSES CORE 1

ENGL 240/240H: 3 s.h.
Introduction to Film (G1, W)

Analysis of film as an art form, including technical and artistic aspects of filmmaking. Genres, auteur theory and other theoretical approaches to cinema. Offered fall, spring. Prereq: ENGL 110.

ENGL 471: 3 s.h.
Creative Writing

Extensive practice in writing varied genres of fiction and poetry. Inquiry into the social functions and purposes of fictional and poetic writing. Prereq: ENGL 110. Offered periodically.

ENGL 472 Writing Workshop: 3 s.h. (when focused on writing for film)

Extensive written work focused on particular topics, a theme in literature or a specific genre in communication. Mini-research papers. Critiques of other student papers. Considerable discussion of other student papers. Offered periodically. Prereq: ENGL 311 or permission of instructor.

ENGL 481: 3 s.h.
History of Film (W)

Analyzes the history of the world’s film industry and influential narrative films, from early silents to recent independents. Technology-intensive course. Offered biannually in fall. Prereq: ENGL 110.

ENGL 482: 3 s.h.
Film and American Society
(G1)

Analyzes significant American films in relation to social and historical context. Offered biannually in spring. Prereq: ENGL 110.

ENGL 483: 3 s.h.
Politics, Film and Electronic Media
(P)

Explores the relationships between media, history, politics and people during the 20th and 21st centuries. Focuses on portrayal of American politics in film. The politics of narrative structure (Eisenstein, Godard), the relationships between narrative and ideology, and political documentaries. Prereq: COMM 100, ENGL 110 and junior status. Offered biannually in fall.

ENGL 484: 3 s.h.
Brave New Worlds: Exploring Technology in Film
(G1, W)

Explores the relationships between film, technology and society as they developed during the 20th century. Includes American and foreign films that focus on technology and/or address issues raised by technology. Special focus on directors Kubrick and Gilliam. Offered biannually in spring. Prereq: COMM 100 and ENGL 110.

ENGL 586-589
Special Topics (3)

In-depth investigation and development of one or more topics of current interest not normally covered in regular courses. Special topics to be covered and methods to be used will vary according to the needs of the students and faculty involved. Offered periodically.

COURSES CORE 2

ART 201: 3 s.h.
History and Aesthetics of Photography (G1)

A survey of the history, principles and theory of photography in the 19th and 20th centuries as it is used as an aesthetic medium and for visual communication. Differentiation between photographs made as art vs. snapshots, photojournalism, scientific record and commercial art is emphasized. Offered periodically.

ART 376: 3 s.h.
Intro to Photo: Digital (G1)

Beginning digital course that introduces the basic skills and concepts associated with digital photography as used by contemporary visual artists and communicators. Covers cameras, computer hardware, photo-editing software, printing, file management, criticism, history and analysis. Students must have a digital single-lens reflex camera. Offered annually.

COMM 121: 3 s.h.
Introduction to Audio and Video

Audio and video production fundamentals, techniques and uses. Includes study of the production process and hands-on production assignments

in both audio and video. Laboratory work required. Offered fall, spring.

COMM 206: 3 s.h.
Communication and Media Law

The legal parameters of freedom of expression under the U.S. legal system. Students explore legal and ethical issues related to media systems, organizational communication, public relations and theatre. Offered fall, spring.

COMM 321: 3 s.h.
Television Production I

Theory and application of various phases of studio operation and editing in television production. Laboratory work required. Offered fall, spring.

Prereq: COMM 121.

COMM 326: 3 s.h.
Media Writing; Fiction (W)
Basic news writing and reporting, stressing electronic media. Offered fall. Prereq: ENGL 110 or permission of instructor.

COMM 337: 3 s.h.
Documentary Filmmaking I: Concepts (D)

Focused on the history and theory of documentary films. Through readings, screenings and discussions, students gain a historical and theoretical understanding of documentary filmmaking and become prepared for more advanced production courses. Students also explore their own documentary ideas and develop an outline and treatment. Prereq: COMM 100; ENGL 110; junior standing. Offered periodically.

REQUIRED RELATED COURSES

ENTR 201: 3 s.h.
Art of Entrepreneurship

This course introduces and explores the mind-set and process of entrepreneurism in: (1) social entrepreneurism (solving social issues); (2) business entrepreneurship (starting an innovative enterprise); (3) employee entrepreneurism (as a worker in an existing business) and (4) academic entrepreneurism (the pursuit of a valuable and productive education). Emphasis will be on identifying opportunities and value, developing the art of creative problem solving and effectively expressing those solutions. Prereq: none.

MUSI 201: 3 s.h.
Music and Sound in Cinema
(G1, D)

This course focuses on the use of music and sound in cinema. It develops specialized listening skills that are different from listening to music for pleasure. It explores the aesthetics of film sound and technology that has changed over time. Finally, it investigates music in the framework of the film sound track, and the sound track in the framework of a history of film technology.

THEA 130: 3 s.h.
Acting I (G1)

Training in the art and craft of acting. Emphasis on developing basic skills and exploring the creative process. Elementary scene and monologue work. Offered fall.

THEA 315: 3 s.h.
Directing

Practical experience in both directing and coaching actors. An overview of directing process and directing style. Offered biannually in spring.

Prereq: THEA 130 or permission of instructor.

CAPSTONES

COMM 437: 3 s.h.

Documentary Filmmaking II

Focused on the practical and technical aspects of documentary filmmaking. Students produce documentaries that incorporate appropriate approaches and styles as well as advanced storytelling techniques. Prereq: COMM 321, 337; junior standing. Offered periodically.

COMM 498: 1-3 s.h.

Independent Study in Communication

ENGL 489, 498, 499: 1-3 s.h.

Independent study and departmental honors.