Ohio University

A New Age

School of Film students collaborate on the set of a student production in 2018.
School of Film students collaborate on the set of a student production in 2018. Photo provided by the School of Film.

Ohio’s BFA in film degree brings young cinematic minds to Athens

Before fall 2019, Ohio University’s School of Film offered an undergraduate degree in film to a select number of Honors Tutorial College students, all of whom integrated into the School of Film’s master’s degree program. The opportunity for young cinematic voices to emerge from OHIO’s robust film school was limited.

No longer.  

The new BFA in Film program launched this academic year and allows students to be admitted upon admission: No pre-major courses are required. This structure lets first year- and sophomore-level students jump in and take production courses that develop their technical skills and filmmaking fluency, says Steven Ross, artistic director and an associate professor of Film. Foundational courses during these first two years give students broad exposure, he explains. 

 These courses “put film in the larger, historical context, and of what is happening today,” says Ross. Then comes the creative work. “As you move into your junior and senior year, [the curriculum] becomes more specialized and more focused on making your own films.” 

All BFA Film students choose a concentration in either directing, screenwriting, producing, cinematography, or post-production. And the program keeps a few lessons prior to the digital filmmaking era: Students still take a semester of 16mm filmmaking.  

“I think it’s a really important thing,” Ross says. “We have the equipment and we believe in it for pedagogical reasons. It teaches you about light—to appreciate what light is doing. It requires you to work on a budget, forces you to pre-visualize in ways that you don’t necessarily have to do when you have digital video and much more of a shooting budget.” 

The inaugural cohort of BFA Film students are engaging in a mix of practice and theory to emerge as well-rounded artists, Ross explains. 

“For an undergraduate degree, it’s important to develop the artist and art appreciation in many ways,” he says. “We have such strong programs in Theater, Dance, Music, and Art + Design. The BFA Film students are a great addition to the College’s population, where interdisciplinary experiences are a point of pride.”
 

Initial class of BFA School of Film majors captured in fall 2019.
Initial class of BFA School of Film majors captured in fall 2019. School of Film Director Steven Ross and class instructor Shahriar Shafiani are pictured in back row, center. Photo by Daniel J. King