Explore A New Career
You Want To Be A Film Major?
Growing up with a father who launched his own local television
station in Kentucky, it comes as no surprise that Brittany
Stevenson was destined to major in film and television production.
Even in high school, Brittany worked
as a reporter for the CNN student bureau and her high school
television news club. Now a junior at NYU's Tisch School
of the Arts, Brittany is studying the subject that has always
been near and dear to her heart: documentaries and children's
television programming. "My
parents always knew I would have a career in the arts," Brittany
said, noting that she went to a performing arts elementary
and high school. "And the only medium where I can create
a whole world is to become a film director." "My
ultimate dream is to become the first African American woman
to win an Academy Award for directing," she added.
The film production program at NYU
is a tough one, but for students who love film, it is arguably
one of the best places to get production experience. Brittany
said that during the first two years of the program, students
are required to take introduction classes that will prepare
them to make films of their own. After they take the basics,
students can choose to focus on specialty areas, including
editing, filming, screenwriting, special effects, directing,
production or cinematography. "Basically
what happens the first two years is you take an overview of
everything," Brittany said. "Freshman year you take
sound image, which is the basics of the sound program. You
go from analog to digital, so you learn how to record on decks
all the way to editing on ProTools and you create your own
Additionally, intro film students also must take a film history
class, a class that teaches framing and photography and a screenwriting
class. But at NYU, before a student learns to edit a film using
computer programs such as Final Cut Pro, they must first learn
the hard way.
"They teach you editing on the Steinbeck," Brittany
said. "That's the old fashioned way of editing a film.
Basically you are editing your film frame by frame using a
razor and cutting it and pasting it together. A three minute
project can take you about10 hours," she said.
Brittany said that so far, the project
that she's most proud of is a film she created about Bedford-Stuyvesant,
or 'Bed-Sty.' "I
did a portrait of Bed-Sty. It's images over jazz music and
it shows how the neighborhood is set up. I wanted to basically
capture the humanness of this-I wanted to capture the essence
of the community," she said.
But other students find out they
want to major in film when they least expect it. That was
the case for Barnard senior Mimi Borowich, who switched her
major twice before finally deciding to major in film studies. "At first I was pre-med
but then my friend told me about this really cool film class," Mimi
said. "It was a really memorable class. It gave you an
introduction to all of film from 1894 to 2001. The last film
of that semester that semester was 'The Matrix.'"
"The class started me thinking how I really love this
and for the first time, I was passionate about writing one
of my papers. I didn't like studying so hard for biology and
I'd look forward to the times when I'd be writing my film papers," Mimi
Mimi said that unlike NYU, which
has its students focus primarily on film production and requires
students to obtain hands-on experience with filming, the
film program at Columbia University and Barnard College is
geared more towards film theory and criticism. "At Columbia there are a bunch of required
classes," Mimi said. "You have to take script analysis
and after that, you take a screenwriting class."
"At Columbia, you're really developing a background.
Film is a developing art form. Every year, technology gets
better, so you have to have that background in order to gain
a better understanding," Mimi said.
Columbia only requires one production
class, but a number of classes allow students to create films
in lieu of writing papers, she said. Although a lot of people
unfamiliar with film may often believe that the major is
all fun and games, Brittany said that belief is a fallacy. "Time management
is the biggest challenge because after you finish shooting
the film, you still have to wait to develop it and editing
takes a lot of time," Brittany said.
"If you're a film student, film is your life. You live
and breathe film. It's a lot harder and more involved than
people may think," she said.
Mimi agreed that being a film major
can be a lot of work. "Being
a film major is a hellish amount of work," Mimi said. "But
it's worth it and at times it can be incredibly enjoyable and
fulfilling. Afterwards, you feel so accomplished. You can say,
'I just made a movie. I just edited a movie. I just produced
a movie. And I did it all by myself.'"#