Film Production Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's & Course Info

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What will you learn in a film production degree program? Read about program requirements, the pros and cons of bachelor's and master's degree programs and potential careers.
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Studying Film Production: Bachelor's and Master's Degrees at a Glance

Film production programs typically cover multiple aspects of film production, including scriptwriting, editing and cinematography. Studies in film production can prepare you for a variety of jobs within the film industry, such as producer, director, broadcast technician or film editor. Most positions require a bachelor's degree and some experience working within the industry.

Film production workers often face strong competition for jobs since many companies have more applicants than positions available. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that film and video editors were expected to see a five percent increase in jobs from 2010-2020. The BLS noted that employment of producers and directors was projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations with a predicted increase of 11% during the 2010-2020 decade. The best prospects for film and video editors, as well as producers and directors, were expected for candidates who have the most relevant work experience.

Bachelor's Master's
Who is this degree for? Individuals looking for the necessary training to get entry-level positions in the film industry Students seeking advanced training in film production and wishing to pursue careers in academia
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) - Film and video editor ($53,000)*
- Producer or director ($71,000)*
This program prepares graduates for similar careers as bachelor's degree holders, plus academic positions, such as:
- Film instructor (no salary available)
- Assistant film professor (no salary available)
Time to Completion About four years, full-time 2-3 years, full-time
Common Requirements - Between 10 and 20 courses in film studies
- Internship
- Film project
- About 12-18 graduate-level film courses
- Internship/production projects
- Thesis film project
- Comprehensive exam
Prerequisites - High school diploma or equivalent - Bachelor's degree
- Related undergraduate coursework
- Examples of your work
- Letters of recommendation
- GRE scores (varies among programs)
Online Availability No No

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).


Bachelor's in Film Production

Film production studies are often found as a major or specialization within a Bachelor of Fine Arts or Bachelor of Arts program. Film production programs give students a chance to learn about the business aspects of the film industry in addition to the technical skills needed to make videos. Your classroom learning is supplemented by internships and film projects; some schools may even require students to complete multiple projects throughout the program. Although a bachelor's degree program in film production can prepare you for a master's program, curricula are designed to give you practical expertise that can be useful as soon as you graduate.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Most programs give students a chance to participate in multiple hands-on learning opportunities
  • Programs usually cover a variety of topics (writing, operating a camera, post-production techniques) that are useful in multiple careers within the film industry
  • May help you land an entry-level position over candidates who don't have a degree

Cons

  • Skills taught in these programs are not usually applicable to many careers outside of filmmaking and broadcasting
  • May face keen competition for jobs in the film industry
  • No specific degree is required to become a film producer or director

Courses and Requirements

Program plans at the bachelor's level are typically broad and might include courses in film history, performance studies, contemporary films, screenwriting, lighting and post-production. The business aspects of this program might teach you about film ethics and ways to promote your work. You can expect to participate in multiple production workshops or film projects throughout your program, which can allow you to put your ideas into action and start getting experience before hitting the job market. Some programs include internship requirements.

Online Course Options

Bachelor's programs in film production aren't available online. You may be able to complete some of your general education coursework over the Internet, but major courses typically require students to attend traditional classes. Filmmaking studies involve the use of expensive equipment and software, and most film projects require significant hands-on instruction, which is not available online.

Standing Out with This Degree

Joining a film club while in school may give you multiple benefits after you graduate. Film clubs can give you a chance to watch and discuss films with your peers and may even provide opportunities to showcase your own productions. Even though most programs include plenty of filmmaking opportunities, presenting your projects to a film club can give you additional perspectives about your work and open up opportunities for collaboration with students who are not in a film production program. Working on film club projects may also provide extra opportunities to apply what you've learned in the program and focus on perfecting your craft.


Master's in Film Production

A master's program in film production gives you multiple opportunities to work on your own videos while adding to your overall knowledge of filming techniques. Although admission requirements vary among schools, most programs give preference to students who have previous experience in film production and can provide examples of their creativity. Each program may focus on specific types of storytelling, such as documentaries or fiction. Students typically work with multiple film formats, including digital video and 16mm.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • May qualify for teaching positions at colleges and universities
  • Additional film projects completed in the program can add to your portfolio and make you more appealing to potential employers
  • Can give you in-depth training that's not available in bachelor's degree programs

Cons

  • Most programs only admit a limited number of students each year, so you might face strong competition for admission
  • Few careers require candidates to have master's degrees in this field
  • You could spend up to seven years total in school

Common Courses and Requirements

A master's degree program allows students to start working on film studies right away and may begin with courses like production fundamentals, film planning and introductory writing and editing. Other concepts you might study include producing for films and television shows, directing, screenwriting and film criticism.

You'll usually have the opportunity to work on a few productions before beginning work on your thesis at the end of the program. The thesis project may require you to complete a short film after gaining approval from your advising committee. Your film may be reviewed publicly and/or by a graduate film committee.

Online Options

Master's programs in film production are not available online. Since you'll be working on film projects throughout the program, you need to travel to campus often to work with students, borrow film equipment and participate in hands-on learning.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

You can start preparing to get your name into the film world while you pursue a master's degree. Submitting your movie to a film festival could be your first major opportunity to present your work. You may even catch the eye of large film companies or well-known filmmakers. Although you could potentially use a film project you made during the master's program, you could also make your own film outside of school. Even if your work doesn't win a spot in a film festival, you'll have more samples to show potential employers.

Depending on your career choice, you could potentially benefit from joining the Directors Guild of America or the Writers Guild of America. Becoming a member of one of these guilds can lead to specialized employment opportunities as well as guaranteed rights for projects. Becoming a member of either guild requires previous production or writing experience, which must meet the specifications set by the respective guild.

Popular Schools

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Full Sail University

  • BS - Film (Campus)
  • B.S. - Show Production
  • B.S. - Digital Cinematography

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • B.S. General Studies - Fine Arts

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