(Ashland, Ore.) — Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission gave final approval today for a new Digital Cinema degree program that will begin this fall at Southern Oregon University and prepare students for careers in film and other forms of visual media.
Members of the HECC, whose approval is needed for all new degree programs at the state’s seven public universities, OK’d the SOU program (https://sou.edu/academics/digital-cinema/) without discussion. It had previously been reviewed and endorsed by both the SOU Board of Trustees and the state universities’ provosts council.
“We’re excited to finally offer a major for the students out there who are looking for a ‘film school’ education,” said Andrew Gay, the program coordinator and associate professor of digital cinema at SOU.
“But we also know that today’s student filmmakers need to be prepared for all kinds of visual storytelling careers that go beyond the traditional ‘film school’ format,” he said. “Here at SOU, students will get that immersion in both worlds — in traditional filmmaking and in new digital worlds like streaming television and virtual reality.”
The new major will build upon the success of the existing Digital Cinema concentration within SOU’s Communication major, while introducing several new courses and immersive experiences for student filmmakers – including required coursework related to innovation.
The program’s centerpiece is a new, 12-credit spring immersion called “The Crew Experience,” in which student filmmakers will spend an entire term learning on location, collaborating under the supervision of experienced professionals on the sets of a significant film projects. Students will apply and interview for their crew positions based on the experiences, skill levels and portfolios of work they have developed in preceding classes.
No other film or media program in the Pacific Northwest offers such an experiential approach to professional production training.
Curriculum for the new program was designed with input from an advisory council of current and former students, film and media industry professionals, and experienced educators in the field. It was designed with both state and regional employment trends in mind.
“Economic diversification is key to the health and wealth of southern Oregon, and the media production sector is a promising target for growth in this region, based on existing assets and infrastructure,” said State Sen. Jeff Golden, who served on the new program’s advisory council.