Film Studies

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Major at Top Christian Film Schools

Article by Rachelle Wiggins

“When we create, it pleases God, because He sees us reflecting his image. He sees us ‘imaging’ him to the rest of the world. God loves to see his image shine throughout the world.”  ~Stephen Altrogge

When friends sit around talking about movies their eyes light up, they laugh about identifiable characters and repeat funny lines. We watch movies in order to experience a real or imagined story “come alive” before our eyes. Film has the potential to draw an audience in and provide inspiration, humor, escape, insight and healing to those who watch with engagement. It delights our senses, opens our mind, engages our emotions and influences our beliefs. As a film studies major, you will delve into both the theoretical and practical sides of filmmaking. You will view, discuss, and write about films with a critical eye that analyzes social, cultural and historical impact. You will also develop the technical expertise needed to work in the filmmaking industry, including skills in camera operation, staging, lighting, audio production, and editing.

Chances are, if you are considering the fast-growing major of film studies you not only love movies, but also have a combination of tech talent and artistic flare. In addition, there are other highly desirable traits for a film studies major. One is the ability to communicate effectively in both oral and written form. A huge part of filmmaking is about conveying a specific message to a special audience. It’s important to be a good listener, to observe detail and pick up on subtle nuance so that you correctly “read” the intention and purpose a producer or director has for a project. You must also be able to clearly explain a plan, process or concept to teammates. A film studies major must strike a fine balance between flexibility and self-discipline, and the ability to work independently yet also in collaboration with others. Finally, determination and resilience are necessary in a field that tends to be highly competitive. 

As a film studies major you may choose an area of specialization, depending on your Christian film school. Some of these include film journalism, screenwriting or media and culture. You may have the opportunity to write scripts or work on short film projects which may be entered into festivals or competitions. It’s possible you may participate in an internship on a set with a local media company or cinema. You’ll likely complete a senior project on some dimension of film production. Some of the classes you’ll take might include:

  • Acting and directing
  • Survey of world cinema
  • Film criticism 
  • Location shooting
  • Film theory
  • Broadcast production
  • Film history
  • Visual storytelling
  • Film technology

Christian college with film studies majors end up in a wide-range of film-related fields including advertising, marketing, digital design, education, public relations and communications. If your long term goal is to direct or produce, a bachelor’s degree in film studies makes it possible to take a mid-level job in production work as an assistant producer or editor and work your way up. There are many employment opportunities in the technical end of production including lighting or sound specialist, special effects technician, prop maker, make-up artist, costume designer, rerecording mixer, cinematographer and colorizing technician. Other film-related careers include:

  • Casting assistant
  • Film critic
  • Location manager
  • T.V. production coordinator 
  • Film curator/archivist 
  • Talent agent 
  • Script supervisor
  • Film distributor 

If you are excited to learn about filmmaking from all angles: creative art form, technical craft and commercial business, and desire to engage the culture through storytelling with messages of hope, truth and purpose then prepare to jump into what God has for you in the exciting major of film studies!

A future in Film Studies

By Jennifer Bailey

As the sun fades on screen over a small boat floating upon the water, the audience 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 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. The relationships you 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!