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Film/Cinema/Media Studies

Program Description

Just the Facts

Film/Cinema/Media Studies. A program in the visual arts that focuses on the study of the history, development, theory, and criticism of the film/media arts, as well as the basic principles of filmmaking and film production.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this career cluster:

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

Additional Information

There's more than one way to break into filmmaking, but a college education is a good starting point.

Luke van Dyk is the head engineer in television for a graduate film program. "The film history component of it is a very important part of it," he says. "[Because of] the nature of composition and storytelling, a college education becomes important."

A number of universities and colleges will prepare you for a career in filmmaking through their four-year bachelor's programs in fine arts. There are also two-year community or junior college programs where you can get an associate's degree in fine arts and get training in filmmaking.

There are also a number of well-respected private training centers that offer programs and workshops in film and television. But if you go the private route, check out a school's credentials first. Find out who the graduates are and where they're working. Contact industry associations to see what they have to say about the school.

Typical classes include acting, directing, writing, producing, computer animation, editing, history and cinema studies. You might also cover the technical skills of film editing, including video post-production and sound mixing.

Students in four-year programs are generally expected to take other classes in the arts and sciences as well.

"So they might be taking a Spanish class and then take a history and criticism class and then a writing class," says David Irving, a film and television professor at New York University.

"At least one or two days of every student's week is built around a production class where they are actually making films. Typically on the weekend, the students are out shooting their projects."

Graduate-level programs offer more intense training. Classes might include cinematography, editing, producing, art direction, writing, sound recording and business operations. You usually will make a film as your "thesis," a final project that uses all the skills you learned while in school.

Start preparing now. Laurence Johnson is an instructor in the film and video production program at a community college. He suggests taking as many computer classes as possible. English, drama and communications are also important. Radio, video and drama clubs will also teach you useful skills.

"The best way to learn about filmmaking or film production is to get into the thick of it," says Kathryn Emslie, a director for film and television programs at a film center. "If you want to direct, write, produce or edit films, then just make it happen. Grab a video camera and shoot scenes, experiment with what you want to say, read scripts, read books, take acting classes. As you play around with the medium, you'll soon discover the areas that you're interested in pursuing."

Besides tuition, costs include books, lab fees and equipment deposits.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Actors, Directors and Producers

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Check out the home page

Resources for the Study of Film
This site will get you started if you want to do some research

Film Schools Around the World
Study the programs for these international film schools


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