By David Gale
Finding employment after graduation can be daunting, especially in the field of cinematography.
“Getting a film degree does not give you the right to make films. It”s not like you can go to a studio with a degree in film and say, ”Give me a job.” They”re not interested in that. They”re interested in whether or not you are a talented filmmaker,” said Tim Skousen, a BYU graduate in theater and media arts.
Yet, theater and media arts students are hopeful their decision to pursue formal education will pay off.
“Compared to someone who just gets a job as a production assistant and works their way up, I know more about film history and theory, which, if I want to write screenplays, that will help me out as well. And I”ll be able to talk at least somewhat intelligibly about film,” said Charlie Bird, 26, a senior from Escondido, CA, majoring in theater and media arts.
According to Bird, gaining a TMA degree from BYU also provides additional benefits compared to other universities.
Tamsen Draper, 22, a senior from Greer, South Carolina, majoring in theater media arts, agrees.
“There aren”t very many schools that have the kind of equipment that BYU has because the school is supported by the church,” Draper said.
The monetary support provided by the church is only an underlying benefit, according to Bird.
“I think one of the main reasons I chose to come to BYU to do film was because I knew I had to watch things I didn”t want to watch at other schools. I knew that pursuing film with the influence of the gospel would be more advantageous to me, as well as my classmates and people in my program. When I leave BYU I will have this networking, these contacts with people that I could work with who have the same values and principles that I also share,” Bird said.
“If you were to go to NYU or USC you would regularly look at questionable material that you may or may not want to watch and view and it”s just the norm. That”s not considered taboo filmmaking, that”s considered the best kind of filmmaking. At BYU you get the opportunity to study film from a perspective that you are not going to get anywhere else, which is a gospel line of perspective, a perspective of high moral values,” Skousen said.
According to Skousen, many successful filmmakers never received a formal education in cinematography. But to him, it wasn”t worth taking the chance.
“It is just as much as it”s a risk to go to film school and get into the business, it”s just as big a risk to naively go to Hollywood and just kind of show up there and think you are going to make it big. I think it all comes down to what kind of person you are and how quickly you learn. But at film school you get a definite advantage of getting experience without having to take the big risk,” Skousen said.