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Major in Film Studies
By Lauren Elrick
As the sun fades on screen over a small boat floating upon the water, an audience full of viewers wipes away tears, rustles popcorn, and observes in awe as the scene closes with a slow chiming song. One lone viewer claps in admiration and wonder as the credits roll. Movies are, no doubt, a beautiful art form, put together by fusing a conglomeration of moving parts, people, and ideas. In this modern age, the word film—whether a television show or a movie—is synonymous with entertainment.
Studying film results in a curious combination of art, engineering, and interacting with people. There are many different jobs that stem from the film industry: screenwriting, acting, video editing, camera operating, directing, producing, working with lighting, mixing sound, costuming, as well as a host of other positions depending on what area of film studies you’re most interested in. Every detail of a film, from the stirring of birds in trees to the dialogue between two main characters is meticulously planned and executed by an entire team of people. There’s also a wide variety in the types of films you can make: documentaries, narrative films, experimental films, reality TV—the list goes on and on.
If you decide to major in film studies, you’ll find yourself shooting and editing scenes again and again until they match your vision, taking criticism from and giving criticism to fellow classmates, collecting props and actors for your films, following orders when working on someone else’s project, and spending countless hours getting the cast, crew, and equipment necessary for a shoot. Of course, you’ll spend a lot of time watching films, but overall, this major is very interactive and hands on.
When considering film studies as a potential major, it helps if you’re the type of person who’s simultaneously creative and patient, as well as observant and willing to work with others. Thriving under pressure is also a must, as with anything in the film industry, time is money. Your adaptability will also be called into play because you’ll have the opportunity to try out a host of different types of “positions” as you learn about the world of film. One day might find you editing the final takes of a film while another will find you coordinating equipment or serving as production manager. Other necessary skills are good hand-eye coordination, critical thinking, project management, physical stamina, and a knack for using the computer.
The job outlook for the film industry is great, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career field is supposed to grow by 11% between 2014 and 2024. As of 2015, the median pay was $55,740 per year, and the highest 10% in the group measured made around $105,120 annually. Most careers in film studies require a bachelor’s degree, and many colleges offer courses in specializations, such as cinematography or offer training for video-editing software. Some who major in film even go on to pursue Master’s degrees or other types of post-graduate diplomas.
The film industry is fiercely competitive, so honing your skills, competence, and knowledge is key for capturing a great job. It’s also important to get involved with as many different film projects as you can—simply to gain experience. As far as location goes, entertainment hubs such as New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta will have far more job openings for aspiring editors, directors, and other film studies majors; however, the competition will be all the more intense due to the huge number of creatives living in those areas.
Film studies is a unique and incredibly rewarding major. There’s nothing quite like watching hours of painstaking artistic and technical work play out on the big screen, and the relationships you can make along the way, as well as the skills you gain, can be very fulfilling. If movies are your thing, and the process of making art fascinates you, consider a major in film studies!