It is always exciting when FIT launches a new program. Any new program, after all, offers our students new perspectives, new career direction, new opportunity. But it was particularly exciting this semester when FIT welcomed 25 students as charter members of its new Film and Media Studies program. Even though the program has just launched, students have been clamoring to get in since it was first advertised. Indeed, we were forced to turn away many dozens of excellent applicants because—at this stage—we could only accommodate one cohort of 25.
For so many of today’s young people, going into film—in any of its many guises—is as cool and luring as joining a rock band. And since film programs are offered at colleges and universities throughout the country, you might wonder why ours was so much in demand—even at the outset. And the answer, I think, is what makes FIT and its entire curriculum unique: it blends the practical with the theoretical, the hands-on with the academic. Housed in the School of Liberal Arts, it is an interdisciplinary program with the School of Art and Design—and as such, it offers an altogether new approach to the study of film.
From their first semester, students are introduced to filmmaking skills, such as lighting and visual storytelling while, at the same time, they are exposed to the analytic tools fundamental to the study of film. Over time, they will master the technical and production skills of live-action visual storytelling, both fiction and documentary, while studying film and media history, critical writing and the work of great directors. Programs at most other institutions cannot—or do not—offer a curriculum with both sides of the filmmaking craft, and both sides, of course, are essential. Indeed, many of our applicants made a point of telling us how important it was to them to have this dual exposure.
I am eager to watch this program grow. Each new academic year will bring more and more students, and as they graduate—either with an associate or a baccalaureate degree, or both—they will populate the expanding fields in which the moving image plays such a prominent role. Their opportunities are vast, ever-growing and ever-evolving, and I am sure that 10 years down the road, our cool FIT alums will be among the rock stars in the field.