By Nicholas Jackson
The School of Film at Ohio University will be going through a growth spurt this upcoming fall when the officially-approved new Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film will go into effect. Accepting up to twelve new students on a rolling basis, the program will be phased in over the next four years. “We are only going to have a freshman class next year. Then there will be a freshman and sophomore class. Then there’ll be a freshman, sophomore, and junior class. Then, finally, we will have four classes,” according to Steven Ross, the director of the School of Film.
Currently, there is no undergraduate film production major. However, each year, a few select Honors Tutorial College students are integrated into the Masters’ program, taking on the same coursework and developing the same creative portfolio. The difference is that these distinguished undergraduate students receive a Bachelor in Fine Arts (BFA) degree instead of a Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) degree upon graduation. Despite the new undergraduate major, those candidates that have already been accepted into this HTC program will continue on with the traditional curriculum.
In this new BFA program, there will be no prior pre-major courses. “You are accepted into the major upon admission,” Ross explained. Freshman and sophomores will engage in production courses designed to develop technical skills and filmmaking fluency. Additionally, there will be film studies courses in the first two years designed to “put film in the larger, historical context, and of what is happening today.” These foundational courses will give students a broad exposure, but “certainly surrounding that, there will be creative work,” said Ross. “As you move into your junior and senior year, it becomes more specialized and more focused on making your own films.” According to the official program description, BFAs can graduate with a concentration in directing, screenwriting, producing, cinematography, or post-production.
“Throughout [the curriculum], there will be a mixture of practice and theory,” Ross further explains. “For an undergraduate degree, it’s important to develop ‘the artist’ and art appreciation in many ways.” Ross; “The College of Fine Arts has a great array of engagement. We have such strong programs in theater, dance, music, and art + design. The new BFA students will become a great new addition to the COFA population. Interdisciplinary experiences is a point of pride here.”
Like the MFA program, these undergraduates will still get to know celluloid. At least one semester of 16mm filmmaking will be taught. “I think it’s a really important thing. We have the equipment and we believe in it for pedagogical reasons,” said Ross. “It teaches you about light -- to appreciate what light is doing. It requires you to work on a budget, forces you to pre-visualize in ways that you don’t necessarily have to do when you have digital video and much more of a shooting budget.”
Experience with 16mm is only one of the distinguishing factors of this program. Undergraduate students will have small class sizes, opportunities to work in graduate level production, access to a renowned film festival, and tutelage under professional faculty. The new BFA program will be small to ensure a close relationship among faculty and students and to ensure greater personal attention in developing skills and creating films. “We really want to maintain that kind of close contact, interactive type of learning experience for those students in the same way that we have been able to provide it to the grad and HTC students,” Ross added.
“This will be great for our MA and MFA programs. A strength of the School of Film is our film studies program with its great/nimble faculty and engaged graduate students. We have one of the great MFA experiences in the U.S. We teach skill sets in all the important areas and provide an incredible creative space for three years to make films, to grow and develop. ” Ross emphasized. “Adding a new group of undergrads is a great and important opportunity. For the undergrads in the BFA program, besides making their own films, there’s all this graduate production going on. The grads and undergrads will complement each other. Exciting stuff.”
We look forward to welcoming the Class of 2023 in August.