Associate Professor Derek Kompare, Division Chair
Professors: Sean Griffin, Mark Kerins, Rick Worland
Associate Professors: Kevin Heffernan, Derek Kompare, Troy Perkins, David Sedman
Assistant Professor: Amber Bemak
Professor of Practice: Lorena Padilla
Adjunct Lecturers: Sally Helppie, Tearlach Hutcheson
The Division of Film and Media Arts offers students intensive training and close mentorship in the art of cinema and digital media, helping students develop their own artistic voice and vision. Production courses focus on fostering individual creativity and imagination while simultaneously developing technical skills (screenwriting, cinematography, editing and sound). History and critical studies courses expose students to the key artists and theorists of film and media, as well as to the various aesthetic movements that have developed across the globe. Students are also taught the business aspects of film/media, exposing them to how industrial concerns affect technological and artistic choices, and preparing them to successfully negotiate their place in the industry upon graduation. As such, students are encouraged to take an internship in the professional sector to gain practical experience in the field and establish professional contacts.
The B.A. in film and media arts requires 33 credit hours; it is designed to prepare students for careers in media industries or for postgraduate work in film and media studies. The B.A. is also designed to allow time for significant study in another discipline, making room for double majors and multiple minors in other fields. A wide variety of courses in cinema and media history, theory and criticism provide extensive insight into these media as art forms and as vibrant social and cultural institutions. Courses that focus on the business of film, television and new media initiate students into the diverse aspects of these industries. Additionally, courses in production offer experience in writing, shooting, directing and editing film and other media. Finally, a capstone course provides final preparation for either entrance into a career in the media industries or further graduate studies.
The B.F.A. in film and media arts requires 51 credit hours and emphasizes developing the unique creative voice of each student. The B.F.A. is designed to prepare students for careers in media production and to develop their creative abilities in the art form. Courses in production offer experience in writing, shooting, directing and editing film and other media. Courses that focus on the business of film, television and new media initiate students into the diverse aspects of the industries they plan to enter. Additionally, courses in cinema and media history and criticism provide a basic and necessary knowledge of these media as art forms and as vibrant social and cultural institutions. Finally, a capstone sequence provides final preparation for entrance into a career in the media industries, culminating in a collaborative or (if qualified; see “B.F.A. Thesis Film”) individual film production.
The Division of Film and Media Arts is located in the Umphrey Lee Center, which houses faculty offices, classrooms, audio, video and film production, and media support areas. Computer labs with a full suite of editing, audio and graphics software are available to majors seven days a week through ID card access; other facilities include a recording studio, an audio mixing suite, storage and equipment checkout, a seminar room, and production classrooms. The division also has a screening classroom in the Owen Arts Center.
To declare the B.A. in film and media arts, a student must complete FILM 1301 and FILM 1302 with a cumulative 2.700 or better GPA. Students transferring from other universities must have completed equivalent courses and obtained the equivalent GPA in those courses before they can declare the major.
The B.F.A. in film and media arts is a dual admit program: in order to be considered for the B.F.A. in film and media arts, a student must submit a portfolio of film/video work prior to matriculation. The portfolio will be reviewed by a faculty committee to determine acceptance into the B.F.A. program. Upon matriculation, a dually admitted student must complete FILM 1304 and FILM 2354 with a cumulative 2.700 or better GPA in order to declare the B.F.A. To be considered for acceptance into the B.F.A. program while in attendance at SMU, students must have completed FILM 1304 and FILM 2354 with a cumulative 2.700 or better GPA, and they must submit a portfolio. Students transferring from other universities must submit a portfolio, and must have completed equivalent courses to FILM 1304 , FILM 2354 and obtained the equivalent GPA in those courses before they can declare to the major.
Upon attaining junior-level status (60 credit hours), qualified students are encouraged to pursue internships that enable them to work under the guidance of professionals in the motion picture, television, and other related media industries. Non-classroom internship credit is limited to three credit hours taken as an elective on a pass/fail basis. Students must be a declared film and media arts major, must have taken FILM 1304 , and must obtain permission from the division’s internship coordinator before enrolling in an internship course (FILM 4125 , FILM 4225 , or FILM 4325 ).
B.A. students wishing to pursue a senior thesis project (FILM 5314 ) must identify a proposed research project and then apply to FILM 5314 the spring term before they plan to do the thesis project; specifically, applications are due by the end of the first school week after spring break. Details about what to include in the application packet are available on the division website. Note: Thesis registration should take place the final fall of a student’s SMU career, and application should take place the spring before that (i.e., for those graduating in May, application and registration will occur the spring term of the student’s junior year).
Applications will be reviewed by a faculty committee, and students whose proposals are accepted will be notified by the end of the spring term so they can move forward on the projects during the summer break. Applications for a senior thesis are competitive and only a small number of proposals will be accepted each year.
The ensuing fall, approved students will register for FILM 5314 and complete their projects largely independently, though with advice and help from their committees as necessary. Each student registered for FILM 5314 in a given term will have, at most, until the end of the following term of that academic year to complete the proposed project to the satisfaction of his/her committee. This means thesis defenses should be scheduled no later than mid-April to allow time to address any issues or concerns raised by the committee at the defense.
One of the capstone options for the B.F.A. degree requires enrollment in a yearlong thesis film course and completion of a senior thesis project. Interested B.F.A. students must submit a thesis project preproduction proposal packet the spring term of their junior year; specifically, proposals are due by the end of the first school week after spring break. Details about what to include in the proposal packet are available on the division website. Proposals will be reviewed by the faculty. Students whose proposals are accepted will be notified about any potential problems that need to be addressed prior to registration in FILM 5311 and can move forward on their projects during the summer. Students not submitting proposals will not be allowed to register for this course or to shoot a thesis project. Applications for a senior thesis film are competitive and only a small number of proposals may be accepted each year. The ensuing academic year, B.F.A. students with successful thesis proposals will register for FILM 5311 in the fall, and for FILM 5313 in the spring. Students must make satisfactory progress on their film production in FILM 5311 , as determined by their committees, in order to enroll in FILM 5313 . Students enrolled in FILM 5313 will have, at most, until the second day of final exams that term to complete the proposed project to the satisfaction of their committees. This means thesis defenses should be scheduled no later than mid-April to allow time to address any issues or concerns raised by the committee at the defense. Each thesis filmmaker will be required to screen publicly his/her finished project after it has been approved by the committee, before the date of spring commencement.
A directed study is a close collaboration between a professor and an advanced student with junior or senior standing who conducts a rigorous research or creative project that goes beyond the experience available in course offerings. The student must secure formal approval from the professor to undertake a directed studies project.
Due to limited class space and enrollment pressures, a student who fails to appear on the first day or who fails to attend three consecutive class meetings during an academic term without establishing contact with the instructor may be administratively dropped from a course. Course instructors determine other attendance policies.
Both B.A. and B.F.A. film and media arts majors with sufficiently high standing may graduate from the division with honors (i.e., with departmental distinction). All students who are qualified – 3.750 departmental GPA, 3.500 SMU GPA and 21 credits of film and media arts courses completed – will be informed by the division chair of their eligibility at the end of the fall term of their junior year. To attain the departmental distinction recognition, an eligible candidate must complete a thesis project through the FILM 5311 /FILM 5313 or FILM 5314 sequence, and successfully defend the thesis to his or her committee with a final grade of A; candidates must also maintain a 3.750 departmental GPA and 3.500 SMU GPA through graduation. Students should note that admission to FILM 5311 /FILM 5313 and FILM 5314 is competitive, and eligibility for departmental distinction does not guarantee acceptance into these courses.
CoursesFilm and Media Arts