Brooklyn College Film Department
The film industry has been put on hold due to the pandemic, as it should be, and those who are just graduating film school or deciding to enroll in the film production concentration have concerns regarding the prospects of their career and the number of opportunities they expect to see.
Film production is a niche concentration to pursue, although it doesn't necessarily mean no success will come from it. As media and the internet grows, many opportunities can implement the skills and knowledge of a film production degree. Film production classes offer some of the best skills in media producing and with the world switching to internet platforms, these skills are increasingly in demand. I posit that refining the film production curriculum to adapt to current needs will increase the chances of graduates getting jobs or finding their careers after film school.
My experience at Brooklyn College
Brooklyn College's film department has one of the best value film schools in the tri-state area. I do admit to a strong bias, but feel free to find a better film production course with the quality and the value that Brooklyn College offers. The campus's location is also perfect to expose recent graduates to the professional film workforce, as New York is the second biggest film production industry in America. The biggest one is in Hollywood, California. As a CUNY school, it is very affordable and offers many payment assistance programs. It has a very down-to-earth and dedicated staff that will guide you through a very misunderstood program. The school attracts many artists and diverse minds. The film program creates strong friendships that you will cherish and remember forever.
The film department does not have NYU's budget but instead, they make up for it by making you commit despite the circumstances and limited resources. The resilience of Brooklyn College Film students is known in the film industry. Some might say the alumni that work on set (mostly grips and electrics, in my experience) are the most humble and hardworking. If you go into the program with a strong will, you will find and attract resources that will help you accomplish your main goal. It's almost like an intensive training camp if you survive, you created a strong network of creatives, and experience very similar to work in the film industry. If not, you at least had an eye-opening experience and made many memorable moments.
Although I believe I had a strong education in film production at Brooklyn College, the curriculums could have been improved. With the rapidly evolving industry, the classes within the concentration need to be refined. A good backbone of classes is paramount to understanding your role in the always-evolving industry, and if you already have one in mind, the classes become a catalyst to help you grow. Like I said before, I did have a strong education in film production but that's because I took certain electives that test my endurance and my interest in film production. The classes that have a significant positive effect were Producing and Business in Film.
Producing is an elective class that should be in the core curriculum. They offer a real connection for what to expect after film school. These courses ground the filmmaker to the real world and help them plan their career or the pursuit of their career after film school.
The producing class at Brooklyn College is the window to the professional work. It not only teaches you how to make a film, but it teaches you how to network, be resourceful, manage crew, budget, and to complete a very stressful film project. It is the test of times that ensures knowledge to make a thesis film. Yes, the director can hire or allocate someone to produce for them, but most of the time, the director does, at minimum, fifty percent of the producing (acquiring the funding, hiring crew, getting location permits, and more logistics). With a lack of producing experience, a thesis film director can create many obstacles or hinder the completion of the project.
In producing class, the most important lesson is learning to adapt. No film has ever gone as planned. Although it is a very demanding class, the callouses that you build up enduring a producing gig can make or break your thesis film. I've seen many amazing directors with great vision and script crumble when it came to shooting their thesis film. They either are forced to change locations or even their script just before principal photography. I recommend taking the producing class before you take your thesis screenplay class to ground yourself and know the logistical limitation. The script can be the best screenplay ever made, but with bad producing, it can be heavily altered, tainted, and even, not made.
Business in Film
I dreaded taking the business in film class because it goes contrary to the creativity and technicality of film. When business comes into the conversation in a creative environment, it makes many creatives very uncomfortable. But I knew I had to take that class because it is another window to the real world. Creatives eventually need to make a living and if there is a course that shows insight into networking and expanding your exposure, it becomes one of the most important classes in your filmmaking education.
In the class, we discussed how people break into the industry. It was at this class that many realized it takes years and many sacrifices to obtain the first break into the film industry. We also refined our resumes, improved our LinkedIn account, and most importantly talked and learn first hand from currently working professionals that came to the class. I know many people who obtained their office PA gigs from this class and now have higher positions in the production department. The resources offered in this class can be the entryway to the professional world. If not an entryway, a realization if you still wanted to pursue a career in the film industry. The class also offers trips to film festivals and other events that are invaluable to the student that is serious about having a career in the film industry.
When you work on a thesis film, you would see on the call sheet, the many positions in the film crew. Many heads of the departments, and many titles that do very specific jobs. I realized that there was a very important position, as important as the cinematographer, that does not have a class in the film department: Production Design
I've seen too many empty white walls in thesis films to know that there is a need to teach production design. Even in cinematography class, we are told one of our key collaborators is the Production Designer. A Production Designer creates the mood and the proper environment for the film with the use of props and set design. Together with the cinematographer, they decide on the color pallet and the positions of physical art pieces. Production Designer is the head of the art department. Under the Production Designer are Art director, Hair and Makeup, Costume designer, Prop Master, Set Dresser, Construction worker, and Art PA. Although all these art positions may not be needed or available on a student set, the production designer is at least needed. They make sure the director sees the location and the art that his story intends to tell. Production Designer is especially important for period piece films, as they do intensive research on the time period and ways to achieve that environment.
There might not be an immediate appeal to join the class, but with enough emphasis on the importance of art in the film, students may find their career through there. I know many film students pursue a career in the art department. It was not because of school education, but on-set experience and mentorship from more advanced students. With this method of learning, there is a small supply of Production designers in the film department. As many films are shot concurrently, the number of product designers does not meet the needs of every thesis film. If this class is offered, there would be an increase in the visual quality of the film. Films will become more immersive, and students will have an opportunity to focus on the art department easier as a career.
The New Age Career in Media
The growth of the internet and the many popular media platforms have created many jobs not possible before. People could make thousands or even millions of dollars as YouTubers or Streamers. Before, these jobs were considered hobbies and not taken seriously in academia. Another internet career that gained large popularity and is now a viable source of income is gaming. Now, some colleges offer classes for video games. They call the concentration "E-sports." Colleges have every reason to offer these classes because of the success they see of players in the "E-sports" career. Live Streamers and Youtubers are no different. It is now a common knowledge to have a livable or even a prosperous career as a YouTuber. Youtube is an avenue that can be pursued after film school because of the applicable skills to create good content through cinematography and editing. It is a very new career to implement into the film curriculum but I believe it should be heavily considered. There are two classes I would have loved to see at the Brooklyn College Film Department in the near future: Advertising and Music Video, and Self-made media and Home Setups.
Advertising and Music Video Class
In this class, it studies the success and practices the craft of advertisement videos and music videos. An advertisement class makes sense in the Tri-State area because we are one of the advertising production hubs in all of America. That along with the study of music videos should make for an interesting class. A compilation of studying, and creating quality advertisement and music videos can help diversify the student's skills to be more applicable to a multimedia career. I think the diversification of skills is very important for filmmakers, especially in this pandemic year, when film production jobs are put on hold indefinitely.
Self-Made media and home setups
The Self-made media and home setup class can help those who are introverts and want to create content and eventually have a career from it. This would teach the skills of youtube and live-streaming. Self-made media has fewer limitations than a career in the film industry because the artists make whatever interests them. It would also introduce home-setups to make these careers possible. The work hours and the quality of life in the film industry are not for everyone. Some people want to create content in a controlled and safe environment, especially during the pandemic. With a career in self-made media, the artist can work less than 8 hours per day and still enjoy their time after work. This career offers a healthier quality life especially those whose bodies are not capable of handling the film industry work. I know many people who took a film production concentration and have abandoned their degree. As I learned more and experienced the workflow of the film industry, my taste for it has changed. I still enjoy creating stories and content, however, I wouldn't want to work in an actual film set as a career. I could work in a few per year but I will not rely on it as a source of income. This class offers a new perspective in creating a story or content that doesn't involve the rigorous work and long hours of a film set.
Level Nine Productions