Streetwise: Rethinking Motion Picture Arts Education

By Sheffield, Sandra Lee | Journal of Film and Video, Spring 2001 | Go to article overview

Streetwise: Rethinking Motion Picture Arts Education


Sheffield, Sandra Lee, Journal of Film and Video


As a recent graduate (San Francisco State University, MFA, Cinema) and new teacher, the subject of motion picture arts education is still fresh and alive in my thoughts from both perspectives. In fact, I knew before attending graduate school that I wanted to teach and applied only to programs that emphasized motion picture arts production and studies as well as offering significant opportunities for graduate student teaching and mentoring. As a result, I have ruminated on these combined topics for the last seven years.

At present, I am in post-production on a documentary for a local public television station and teach film/video production and studies part-time. I am also at a crossroads: should I pursue more professional "real world" production experience or a full time faculty position? This is not an easy decision. If I spend another few years working in the industry it is likely to appear that academics wasn't my first choice. Furthermore, faculty positions under the very best of circumstances are difficult to obtain. The fact that there is demand for motion picture arts teachers makes this a rare opportunity for applicants.

Increased student interest and the boom of new motion picture arts technologies have prompted the current motion picture arts education growth trend, especially in the area of production. However, the upswing has actually been steadily gaining momentum since the late 1950's-when the Hollywood studio apprenticeship system collapsed and aspiring auteurs began turning to colleges and universities for an education and the necessary training. At that time, only a handful of schools offered any sort of motion picture arts degree and none offered any specifically in production.

Within the past few decades, students seeking motion picture arts degrees in both studies and production combined have increased nearly 300%. That is a rate of 10 times higher than any other degree. Furthermore, over 650 colleges and universities now facilitate programs in the motion picture arts. Of those schools, more than 120 offer undergraduate programs with a production emphasis. Plus, over two-dozen schools now award a Master of Fine Arts degree in motion picture arts production.

Today, close to 75% of all directors working in the film/television industry have received some formal education and training. By next year, industry analysts expect that over 90% of all new working directors will have attended some sort of motion picture arts production program.

The Economics of Media Education

Unfortunately, the proliferation of motion picture arts programs and degrees does not seem as fortunate for students as it is for teachers. According to the US Department of Labor, there are only 247,000 wage and salary jobs in the combined motion picture arts and television production and services industry. Hence, nearly half of the current film/television professionals would need to retire or quit their jobs immediately in order for the over 110,000 students currently enrolled in motion picture arts academic programs to find employment related to their degrees. And that statistic doesn't take into account all of the students enrolled at two-- year institutions, non-accredited programs or the legions of previous graduates who are now motion picture arts wallflowers.

Moreover, 70% of all film/television jobs pay less than $10.00 per hour. And, nearly 60% of all people working in the industry work freelance, on a contract basis or parttime. This is seven times higher than the average for all other professional occupations. Because employment is irregular, the majority of those professionals also report that they are unable to earn a living solely from their film/home-video/television related work.

If you consider that the US Department of Commerce estimates that the average American adult watches approximately 7.5 hours of film/home-video/television a day, then there is certainly a good case for continuing to increase the number of motion picture arts critical studies and appreciation courses. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Streetwise: Rethinking Motion Picture Arts Education
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.