"Oh so you're a film major, so what do you do?"
A little bit of everything, really. When I got to Dartmouth, I had no intention of being a filmmaker. I'd taken a couple of classes in high school and even made a couple of different types of videos in elementary school, but I never thought I'd be studying it in college of all places. Before I got to college, film was more of a hobby than something I took seriously.
Upon starting at Dartmouth, students are encouraged to take a diverse range of classes in their first few terms. I decided to take History of Documentary with Professor Jeffrey Ruoff, and immediately fell in love with documentaries. In fact, I actually enjoy a good documentary more than fiction films -- but good documentaries are few and far between in my opinion. And instead of only making films, the Film and Media Studies department offers a myriad of courses focusing on different film eras and movements.
One of my favorite film courses is Berlin-NY-Hollywood, which I took during my sophmore summer. Taught by Professor Noah Isenberg of the New School who visits during the summer term, this class documents the filmmakers and actors who fled Europe on the eve of World War II. Many of these exiles directed and starred in some of Hollywood's most enduring films. Cross-listed with the Comparative Literature Department, this class also required students to read novels adapted into films and other literature related to the exile's path to the United States. Honestly, coming to class was one of the highlights of my summer. Yes, you read that right. Going to class -- this class specifically -- was one of the highlights of my summer.
At this point, all the filmmakers are probably asking if they can actually make films at Dartmouth. The answer is yes! Popular production classes include Documentary Videomaking, Filmmaking I, and Directing for the Camera. Students work in teams to create films that are screened at the end of the term for all students to come and see. Don't worry, the Film & Media Studies department has all the equipment you need for each class.
Another hidden gem of the Film & Media Studies Department is Screenwriting I & II. Taught by Professor Phillips (who I interviewed in a previous post), these screenwriting classes allow students to create screenplays of their choice. Specifically, in Screenwriting I, I finished the first act of my screenplay. Now, in Screenwriting II, I aim to finish the entire film. In addition to writing your own screenplay, students workshop other students' work throughout the term. It is honestly incredible to read the amazing screenplays of different students in class.
Contrary to popular belief, the Film & Media Studies major isn't all about just making films or watching and writing about a bunch of films. The Film & Media Studies Department offers courses in all aspects of film, from the French New Wave to Game Design Studio. Oh, and there are animation courses too! Even if you don't decide to become a Film major, I would recommend taking at least one class in the department during you time at Dartmouth -- you'll need that Art distributive requirement anyway!