The Film and Media Studies Program draws on the expertise of faculty across disciplines to offer rigorous courses concerning the history, aesthetics, theory, and production of cinema. The program provides courses in critical studies and courses in film, video, and photography production. Students can complete a Film and Media Studies major or minor. Many students double major, often working also in the sciences, English writing, psychology, communication, theatre arts, and history. Once students complete the few core courses required for the major, they can tailor the curriculum to their individual interests.The major in Film and Media Studies prepares students for graduate training in cinema or for such film-related careers as television and film production, arts administration, film journalism, film curatorial work, film library work, film distribution, teaching film, and film production.
Our program is designed to give students a lot of practical, hands-on experience--through group research projects, extracurricular production projects, internships, field study, undergraduate teaching assistantships, innovative courses where students work with visiting filmmakers, an annual student film festival, and more. All of these experiences allow students to work closely with faculty mentors while developing creative, portfolio-quality projects. These are just a few of the recent experiences our students were able to participate in:
Visiting filmmaker Demetrius Wren worked with 22 students on a microbudget film. After learning about funding, festivals, pitching and promotion, the students met professionals working on the film to learn about their areas of expertiese. They then chose specialty areas to work in for the actual film, with the second half of the course occurring on set during the actual production of the film. The students were in charge of making a film within the film from start to finish.
Bodies in Motion: a playlist of short films and gifs created during this interdiscipllnary semester-long research project involving over 20 students from the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, the Department of Biological Sciences, and Film and Media Studies who studied the movement of different types of body and decenter prevailing notions of movement through working with gifs and loops with a variety of differently abled athletes.
Summer research awards match students with faculty mentors on research projects of their own design. Past topics have included: creating branching narrative video game, study of relationship between landscape painting and True Detective, a study of African American film success in box office and Academy Awards according to genre, Humans of Pittsburgh, launching an undergraduate videographic journal, meme research, street art in London, recreating Kuleshov effect, a study of marketing in genre films aimed at young adults, and making a documentary about a Sudanese Lost Boy who lives in Pittsburgh (see story below).
“I’m taking a look into the difficulties of refugee life in terms of adjusting to the society as well as the realities that many people overlook when discussing refugee life in politics and around the dinner table,” says Khadija-Awa Diop, a film studies major who is working on a documentary about a Sudanese refugee and “lost boy” named Daniel who lives in Pittsburgh. "Alison Patterson, a lecturer in film studies and English composition in the English department, had a connection to Daniel and knew that because of my background—my parents are Senegalese immigrants to the United States—and my interests in Africa, cultural studies, and social issues, I would be a person with the knowledge and sensitivity necessary to tell this story." Patterson continues to serve as the faculty advisor for the project, while Diop manages all aspects of production.
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