What is Film and Media Studies?
UC program prepares students for entertainment industries through real-world experience
Behind everyone’s favorite movie, TV show or YouTube channel lies an entire process of planning, producing, and promoting all the media we consume. Film, television, and screen media have grown increasingly ubiquitous and complex in the 21st century, making it essential that we are able to understand, control, and create media in the workplace and in our professional, civic and private lives.
Film and media studies is an interdisciplinary bachelor of arts program within the School of Communication, Film, and Media Studies (SCFMS), a new academic unit in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Cincinnati. Students in the film and media studies program learn ways to comprehend, analyze, and participate in both local and global film and media cultures and industries. They also study both traditional and new media technologies from film to video games.
Students in the film and media studies program are connected to local and global production industries.
“We’ve had students work at the Theater Management Group, which owns the Esquire, Mariemont and Kenwood theaters in Cincinnati, as well as Film Cincinnati. They have also worked in art departments for films like 'Carol' and 'Dark Waters,'” said undergraduate director of film and media studies Michael Gott.
Students have also worked for Cincinnati-based film festivals such as Cindependent Film Festival and Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival, providing them with tangible experience in event production — which can be used as valuable experience for students when marketing themselves to prospective employers.
Perhaps the most exciting experiences students can participate in are the international, project-based study tours, Gott said.
“UC has partnerships with the University of Quebec and Montreal. We go on 10- to 14-day study tours that teach students about different global perspectives like Asian, German or French films, for example,” Gott said.
Although language courses are not required, they certainly provide an advantage for students considering work in global film industries. The program also pairs well with communication and public relations studies, which are also offered through SCFMS.
While film and media studies has some overlap with digital media, another program within SCFMS, the program primarily centers on critical analyses of the content itself and the industries that produce content rather than the creation and production of content. This sort of critical thinking allows students to obtain transferable research skills in addition to technical skills.
Additionally, film and media studies is an interdisciplinary program that allows students to explore ways in which film and media can be used to communicate important social, economic and environmental issues. Anna DiGiovenale is a senior double majoring in film and media studies and environmental studies. One of her favorite class projects in film and media studies also speaks to her interest in environmental sciences.
“I did a project in a class called Community and Film. We worked with Aiken High School, which is a local high school in Cincinnati, and mine was specifically about the environmental programming there. The production was about working with students who use English as a second language. It was a documentary-style short film about their experiences in the high school’s environmental program and how it has helped them with career possibilities,” DiGiovenale said.
Career and graduate possibilities
Students in film and media studies have successfully gone on to work in both film and media industries as well as digital content creation. Below are just a few of the potential career and graduate possibilities available to film and media studies graduates:
- Film programmer
- Museum or festival curator
- Game designer
- Digital marketer
- Media producer
Take it from a graduate
Deja Shanks received her associate degree in communication from a UC satellite campus before graduating from the film and media studies program in December 2021.
“At the time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. All I knew was that I wanted to do something in television and film, but I thought it was a far-fetched thing until I was looking around on UC’s website and saw the film and media studies program. I lost my job during the pandemic and decided to enroll in July of 2020—and I've never looked back since,” Shanks said.
As a result of the pandemic, all of Shanks’ classes were online, but that did not impede her experience. “I really enjoyed the time that I spent in class and learning. The professors taught with enthusiasm and really enjoyed what they were speaking about. That made it fun for me, especially since everything was brand new information.”
Shanks took an internship with the Cindependent Film Festival the summer before her last semester in which she organized film screenings in neighborhoods across Cincinnati. “I really appreciated having that experience for someone that had no prior experience in that field. So, for me, every little bit counted,” said Shanks.
She now works in marketing at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park where she creates trailers for upcoming shows (which an undergraduate Adobe editing class prepared her for) and organizes programs for the theater.
It's so cool being able to actually work in the field I have always wanted to. It's solely because of the internship.
Deja Shanks, UC film and media studies grad
It's so cool being able to actually work in the field I have always wanted to. It's solely because of me having the internship with Cindependent where I made a connection with someone who ended up working for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. They were looking for a content person in the marketing department and encouraged me to apply — and I got it! It’s been nothing but positive energy.”
When asked what advice she had for students thinking about film and media studies, she said, “Stay involved and really care about what you're doing. It will set you up in the long run.”
Featured image at top: Film camera on location. Photo/Chris Murray/Unsplash
By Erinn Sweet
Graduate Assistant, A&S Department of Marketing and Communication