The fact that film studies is only offered as a minor at Knox is considered a shame by many. There is certainly a draw to the idea of a film major, as it’s a unique form of storytelling that offers different creative outlets such as editing, directing, and cinematography. As of right now, though, there isn’t much of a push for the change.
According to Director of Film Studies Emily Anderson, the most prominent reason for film studies to remain a minor is due to the fact that film studies is not classified as a department, but a program. A major distinction exists between the two, as there is currently no professor dedicated solely to the film program.
For film studies to become a department a few things would have to be decided behind the scenes. As explained by Anderson, concrete data proving student interest and need would be required to make an impact.
“The way to move towards a major … is to demonstrate that there’s so much demand on the classes or program that we can’t satisfy it,” Anderson said. “It is not proving to be a problem for enrollments, which means based just on numbers we are satisfying the demand.”
While there’s no overwhelming push at the moment, there are many students who would love for a film major to exist.
“Most students who I’ve talked to who are film minors, when they were deciding which college to go to, considered going to film school and ended up choosing Knox instead. And I know at least one student who was a film minor and transferred to film school,” said senior Caleb Fridell, co-president of Knox’s Film Club. While he has no plans to use his minor for anything practical, he does believe there are many who want to actually make film.
Deciding whether there should be a film major has another important ingredient: deciding what a film major actually means and entails.
“Do we want students to learn film production … or do we want students to take a lot more film theory and a lot more courses on specific directors,” Anderson clarified.
As it stands there is only one practical film class offered, and that’s screenwriting, which is housed in the English department. Students can take a variety of classes offered on the study of film theory, though more practical classes, like film production, would be very helpful for film students. Fridell went on to say that a full-time professor would be very beneficial to strengthening the program.
Sofie Drummond-Moore, a senior with a film minor, pointed out that it may not be difficult for Knox to incorporate more film classes, such as cinematography and directing. “We definitely have good photography classes here and … we already have a good program for theatre directing.” The school would have to accommodate these classes, therefore requiring a studio to work in, software to be bought, and people with extensive knowledge and real world practice to be hired. These are both logistical and financial problems.
Outside of classes, Film Club is one of the only organized outlets for students interested in film production.
“It’s sort of evolved — last year it was really about making films. Nowadays, it’s gotten a lot smaller … it’s more watching films, critiquing films, talking about films,” co-president Drummond-Moore said about the club.
Students can also try to put together their own independent film majors; a hard task, but one that would signal, on paper, that there was need for such a thing. Drummond-Moore has already taken the first step. “[I’m] doing a collaborative honors project where we’re making a full length film over the whole year,” Drummond-Moore explained. She noted that collaborative honors projects haven’t really been done before, but since you can’t make a film alone, it was necessary. She hopes this will help open the school’s eyes to the idea. She’s gotten a lot of response regarding the project and that people are really interested in helping, whether as actors, sound editors, or in any other way possible.
Anderson believes that one day there will be enough demand and a push will come for a film studies major. However, it’s hard to tell when that might be. Students interested in a film studies major would need to be very vocal. “If there were … a lot of students who could say I would major in film studies if that were available… or I’m distraught that we don’t have a professor with an advanced degree in film studies, the college would be happy to accommodate student demand,” Anderson elaborated.
Drummond-Moore thinks that, in the long run, a film major would only impact the school in positive ways. “I think there’s a lot who come in here who have that creative drive,” Drummond-Moore explained. “The school is very good at having a variety of art … so I think it would fit very well.”