Plan to create film production major in the works

A proposal is currently being written that could bring a film production major to Portland State.

Film studies professor Michael Clark, who is authoring the proposal, said offering a film major would not only aid the university, but also the city and even the state.

“The Oregon Film Commission is doing a lot to bring people in, but a film school here in Portland, well, that would help a lot,” he said, “We’d have a good amount of competition with schools like USC, UCLA and NYU, but I truly think that if we put our collective mind to it, we can do anything.”

The Oregon Film Commission promotes the development of the film, video and multimedia industry in Oregon. The commission markets Oregon as a filming location, recruits out-of-state productions and works to build the indigenous film, video and multimedia industry.

Clark said that many of the details have yet to be worked out, but he hopes to submit the proposal by June. PSU offers a film studies minor through the theater arts, communication and English departments that includes only one introductory digital video production course. The majority of the film studies courses are focused on critical thinking, interpretation, history and writing.

Clark said having a film major would require extra staffing and extra funding to pay professors. Film production classes are usually very small, not unlike writing courses. In addition to this, costs of equipment such as lights, cameras, sound gear and desktop editing stations would be hefty as well. The implementation of a film production school at PSU would also necessitate the support of the Oregon University System, as well as PSU faculty and students.

“I’ve done a lot of research on this,” Clark said. “It would be extremely costly and labor intensive for this kind of program. So that makes it difficult, and we would also have to deal with deciding which department or departments it would fall into.”

However, Clark said he believes that PSU has everything needed in order to create a “top-notch” film production program. “All we need is the vision, the commitment and the energy to see it through. There are so many people here who would love to see this happen. Just in this last year ?” interest has exploded.”

Joel Viles, aspiring filmmaker and PSU student, said he was surprised to find that PSU does not already offer a film major.

“I was shocked,” Viles said. “I came to Portland because I love the city. It’s a great place to shoot a movie, and there are lots of creative people here who are interested in film or acting. So naturally I was surprised that the largest university in Oregon didn’t have a program for it. It would be great for PSU to come up with a production program in the future.”