The Board of Regents (BOR) of the University System of Georgia approved a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film Production for Clayton State University at the BOR’s May 2015 meeting, adding another aspect to workforce development in the State of Georgia’s hottest industry.
According to Dr. Susan Tusing, chair of the Clayton State Department of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) in the College of Arts & Sciences, it’ll be a case of “lights, camera and action!” in Fall of August 2015, when the new program officially rolls out for the upcoming fall semester.
“We have many students inquiring about film and media production, and the production classes in our Communications and Media Studies program have been enormously popular,” notes Tusing. “We anticipate the B.A. in Film Production to be a significant program in our department and at Clayton State, and to be a major contributor to the future of the film industry in Georgia. We expect the graduates of this program to make an enormous impact on the field in and beyond Georgia.”
“I am extremely proud of our faculty for creating this program in such record time, in response to market demands driven by the film industry,” beams Dr. Nasser Momayezi, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences in which the B.A. in Film Production program will be housed. “The degree makes a solid case that majoring in a field that blends technical training and expertise and liberal arts skills benefits everyone.”
About the program
The B.A. in Film Production emphasizes post-production to prepare students for careers in Georgia’s burgeoning film industry. While the program will include content relating to pre-production and production, so that students are introduced to these skills and understand the entire filmmaking process, the post-production focus of the program will help students attain the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in areas of film post-production. These areas include; storytelling, compositing, editing, special effects, motion graphics, and sound effects. According to Tusing, students will also have an opportunity to take courses outside of the film area, and pursue a minor program to further enhance their job marketability.
The curriculum for the B.A. in Film Production will build on Clayton State’s well-established Media Production and Media and Cultural Criticism concentrations in the existing Communication and Media Studies major. The new program will also track closely to the non-credit film training offered by Clayton State’s Film and Digital Media Center.
Tusing notes that collaboration between the credit and non-credit programs will offer a variety of benefits to participants in both programs, including shared access to Clayton State’s new 10,000 square foot film studio in Lucy Huie Hall.
“Clayton State will prepare students from a variety of backgrounds to succeed in the film industry by providing them the skills employers demand,” she adds. “Additionally, the collaboration and cooperation between both the non-credit and credit programs provide students in the non-credit program another pathway to enter higher education.”
Student Graduate Prepared for the Workforce
Graduates of the new film production program will be fully prepared to enter Georgia’s rapidly growing film industry, which, according to Lee Thomas, the state’s deputy commissioner, Film Music & Digital Entertainment, generated $5.1 billion in total economic activity in Georgia in 2014, with almost 80,000 Georgians already employed in an industry that has made the state third in the nation in the number of yearly film productions.
According to the Georgia Labor Department (July, 2014), the state’s annual growth rate in jobs in the Motion Picture and Sound Recording Industries will be 1.8 percent. This increase reflects a projected 19.2 percent growth in jobs from 2012-2022. Georgia’s ability to provide education and skill acquisition in post-production fields will mean that more of these jobs will remain in Georgia, rather than being sent to professionals in California or New York or elsewhere out of state.
Students are Taught by Professionally Accomplished Faculty
Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies Jonathan Harris and Assistant Professor of Film, Shandra McDonald, will be the primary faculty for the program. An award-winning writer, director and producer, McDonald has received awards from the Director’s Guild of America, Atlanta Film Festival, IFP Film Festival, Roxbury Film Festival, Women in Film and Television/Atlanta and Reel Shades of the Diaspora for projects that she has written, directed or produced. Her film projects have aired on the web and major television networks including ABC, NBC, UPN, Showtime and CBS.
Harris has been a seminal figure in the development of both the B.A. in Film Production program and the Media Production and Media and Cultural Criticism concentrations. His film and video work has been screened at major film festivals nationwide including the San Francisco Documentary Festival, the Brooklyn Arts Council Film Festival and the Atlanta Film Festival. He was the Post-Production Supervisor for The Adventures of Ociee Nash (distributed by Twentieth Century Fox), and the director of the feature-length musical, Last Ride, which was called “visionary” and “ambitious” in press reviews.
Harris is also the director of six notable short films including the documentary, Treasure Hunters, which screened at more than a dozen film festivals nationwide, won Best Documentary Short at the F4 Film Festival in Massachusetts. Before working in film and video, Harris was a staff writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and his essays and feature stories have appeared in Creative Loafing, Chelsea, and International Living.