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Ohio State film studies program adds a masters program. Credit: Elizabeth Tzagournis | Lantern Reporter

Film Studies presents new additions to program

Now students passionate about film don’t have to stop at an undergraduate degree at Ohio State.

On Thursday, during the Film Studies Program fall reception, several new additions to the curriculum were presented.

The program was expanded to include a master’s degree in film studies, as well as a screenwriting minor for undergraduate students. Program coordinator Matt Swift said faculty is set to start admitting students to the graduate program for Fall 2017. All current students are eligible to enroll in the screenwriting minor as of this semester.

The master’s degree will total 36 credit hours and include a foreign language component and a final thesis. The minor will require students to complete 18 credits and prepare their own original content in the form of stories, scripts and screenplays, according to the Film Studies website.

The program fills a need and is in response to student interest, said Ryan Friedman, director of Film Studies. Currently there are approximately 120 students majoring in film studies and 30 to 35 minoring in it, he said.

Chris Jeansonne — who is currently in the doctoral program of the Department of Arts Administration, Education and Policy, as well as a professor for the Intro to Film course — emphasized the opportunity for students to realize the connection between practical production work and academic film studies. He said he believes students should pursue these opportunities now rather than when they are working a full-time job.

“That’s the kind of luxury that is provided by a film arts program,” Jeansonne said. “Having that balance between wanting to address career concerns and develop career skills for students but simultaneously provide them with challenges to their critical perspectives on film and what film means and what kind of films should be made.”

Friedman also noted the importance of a balanced curriculum that will provide students with a well-rounded education.

“There are lots of students who come to Ohio State who are interested in specializing in film production,” Friedman said. “We want to make sure they had a standalone, coherent major where they could pursue those interests, get exposed to different modes of filmmaking, different approaches to the art while studying in a context of learning about film history, criticism and theory.”

John Slavnik, a second-year in film studies and history, is one of those students. He said he aspires to work as a cinematographer or director, and could see himself pursuing the new master’s program upon graduation.

“Anytime you add new majors and new classes and new opportunities, I think that’s always good for a program,” he said. “It does seem to be evolving as we go on.”

Slavnik hopes for more diversity in class options as the program continues to develop. Classes in sound design, production and cinematography could set the school apart, he said.

The approval process for the master’s program curriculum lasted three years, consisting of many steps and contributions from various groups, Swift said. New curriculums are first internally investigated and later further reviewed by the university and then the Ohio Department of Higher Education and other schools around the state.

“They probably spent close to an academic year teasing out that (first proposal) draft, researching other schools, making sure it would fit well, that we weren’t duplicating the same program somewhere else,” Swift said. “There’s a lot of research involved and it took them a whole academic year just to get to the point where they were going to submit it to the college for approval.”

Both Swift and Friedman predict future growth of the film-studies program as a whole. The resources and opportunities that OSU offers is what sets the curriculum apart, Swift said.

“We want to see this as a unified space for any faculty or staff or students where they come together and learn about film, whether it’s writing about film, making film, screenwriting, animation, experimental art cinema,” Swift said. “We want them to be able to know this is a place where we can make that happen at the university.”

Correction: This article was updated on Sept. 13 to correct the spelling of Ryan Friedman’s name. 

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