PSU film program incorporates a production component
A recently incorporated component to Portland State’s film studies program allows students to not only watch and analyze films in lecture halls but also have the opportunity to produce their own films.
Though this program is a new addition to the university, film studies already claims about 270 students. The program began in 2007 as a vision of several faculty members within the Department of Theater Arts, particularly professor William Tate. As a result of the collaborative effort, film studies recently included a production component to its program.
Last fall, the university brought assistant professor Dustin Morrow on board to help shape the film major’s production component. Morrow, a filmmaker whose research focuses on pop culture, has directed several music videos, trailers and commercials. According to his website, his works seek to explore Irish identity, politics and culture through documentaries.
Starting last fall, Morrow began teaching courses on film production, including an introduction to production course and a course on music videos. Morrow is also developing two film studies courses that focus on the works of director Michael Mann and Brian De Palma.
According to Morrow, there is a high interest in film production among film major students. The department is in the process of obtaining new equipment, which includes DLSR cameras for HDR and a new computer editing lab with approximately 30 stations.
“We are also setting up two advanced edit suites and a pre-production conference room,” Morrow said.
Professor Mark Berrettini, a faculty member in the Department of Theater Arts who was originally hired to formally establish the program, said not all film majors take the production courses.
“Students in production have the opportunity to make their own films, write their own screenplays, work on other students’ films and work as interns at professional productions in the area,” Berrettini said.
Berrettini also teaches courses in film history, theory, genre and screenwriting. Prior to his coming to PSU in 2007, Berrettini has done works on animal studies, film noir and was the director of film studies at the University of Northern Colorado.
In the past, the film study major at PSU has incorporated local filmmakers into its teaching curriculum. In 2008, documentary filmmaker Steve Amen from Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Oregon Field Guide was commissioned to teach courses on documentary filmmaking.
In addition, the university also has the PSU Film Crew, a student group that brings student filmmakers together and provides an avenue in which film majors can create their own documentary to be broadcast on TV.
Created by film majors Sasha Orme and Clark Leland, the group originally started out as the PDX Film Collective and had the goal of becoming a way for local filmmakers to network with one another.
The group meets every first Tuesday and every third Wednesday of the month.
According to Morrow, film studies is a growing major at PSU.
“I can tell you that the program has grown exponentially faster than anyone expected, and we are hiring another full-time film studies professor to start in the fall,” Morrow said.
Film students can also enroll in courses at the Northwest Film Center, which offers transferable course credits to PSU students. This partnership gives students the opportunity to learn the craft of traditional filmmaking at the NFC, because currently PSU only offers courses on digital filmmaking.