Choosing an Online Program in Film
Most online film programs focus on production or theory. Production–oriented programs teach students about the technical side of filmmaking, covering topics such as camera operation, sound recording, film and video editing, production design, and budgeting.
In the film and TV production industry, most professionals specialize in an area, such as cinematography, lighting, editing, or sound recording. Many online film bachelor’s degrees include flexible elective requirements that allow learners to focus their studies on one or more areas of interest. For example, a student planning to become a camera operator may take an intensive series of electives that cover basic, intermediate, and advanced topics in cinematography. This specialization would help the student prepare for an entry–level position in the camera department of a professional film shoot.
Theory–focused programs explore topics such as film history, film criticism, and the social impact of film. These programs appeal to students with an academic or intellectual interest in film as a cultural phenomenon. Theory–oriented programs also provide a strong educational background for students interested in film development, acquisition, distribution, and other business–oriented aspects of the entertainment industry.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor’s in Film Program?
Because of the variety of specializations available to students in online film studies degree programs, curricula vary significantly. However, students in both production–oriented and theory–oriented programs gain an understanding of certain fundamental concepts. The foundational courses below are common to most online film programs.
Curriculum for an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Film
- Introduction to Film History: Most online film school degrees begin with an overview of movie history. These courses cover the development and emergence of motion picture technology. Students examine the first century of filmmaking milestones, focusing on noteworthy films, filmmakers, and cinematic movements.
- Narrative and Non–Narrative Filmmaking: While most people associate filmmaking with the commercialized entertainment industry, film has rich non–narrative tradition. This course introduces students to the many auteurs who have explored film’s formal characteristics purely for artistic expression.
- Film Theory and Criticism: Movies can profoundly affect viewers, creating powerful intellectual and emotional responses. This course explores how movies achieve this effect and why some films are more effective than others. Students discuss whether films can be judged according to an objective set of criteria or whether evaluating a film must always involve a degree of subjectivity.
- Business of Film: More commonly found in production–oriented programs, film business classes introduce the basics of film financing models, budgeting, and distribution channels. Students gain foundational knowledge to prepare for careers in the entertainment industry, and emerging filmmakers learn to consider the practical aspects of the creative process.
- Film Technologies: Tech courses focus on classes of filmmaking equipment, such as cameras, lights, sound recording devices, or special effects technologies. Students learn about the proper setup, calibration, use, and maintenance of these tools and learn how to utilize technologies to achieve specific stylistic effects.
Careers with a Bachelor’s in Film
Online film degrees prepare learners for career opportunities in the practical, technical, and creative sides of filmmaking. In the film and television industries, demonstrable skills tend to impact career opportunities more strongly than formal education. A bachelor’s degree is sufficient for most entry–level careers in the industry.
Editors play a key role in post-production. They work in editing bays to assemble raw footage into the polished scenes that comprise a finished film or TV show. These professionals need detailed technical knowledge of computer hardware and editing software, which students gain while completing a production-oriented online film bachelor's degree.
Camera OperatorCamera operators work closely with creative leads, known as cinematographers, to achieve the desired look, tone, and mood of a film or TV production. Under the direct supervision of the cinematographer and/or director, camera operators draw on film school training to calibrate and physically operate the camera equipment used to capture individual scenes.
Producers and DirectorsProducers acquire and develop source material, secure financing, and serve as the lead point person on business aspects of film and TV projects. Directors specify creative and dramatic visions for the finished product and work on set to provide cast and crew members with detailed instructions. These competitive positions require knowledge of the creative, historical, and practical aspects of filmmaking.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics