Film production students learn about the multiple stages and methods of filmmaking such as directing, producing, screenwriting and camera operating. Associate's degree programs allow students to gain hands-on technical skills while learning the basics of movie production, including cinematography and lighting. Program participants could be expected to create portfolios and work on special design projects.
Students may continue their education in bachelor's degree programs that emphasize film studies, budgeting and audio production; directing and producing may also be explored. Advanced movie production theories are studied at the master's level, including short film and video production strategies. Students might select areas of concentration and work on actual productions. Aspiring graduate students likely need to hold a bachelor's degree in film production or a related discipline and submit a portfolio as a prerequisite.
Associate's Degree in Film or Video Production
These 2-year programs can lead to an Associate of Arts or Science degree in video production or media arts. Students gain plenty of hands-on production experience in studio facilities and learn the technical skills involved in film production, such as sound production, camera operation and directing. They also work on visual projects to develop portfolios demonstrating their technical abilities and personal style. Common topics of study include:
- Location shooting and lighting
- Video and sound editing
- Introduction to cinematography
- Directing and producing techniques
Bachelor's Degree in Film or Video Production
Undergraduate degree programs in film and digital video production typically take four years to complete, and result in such merits as the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Filmmaking or Bachelor of Science in Video Production. Degree programs provide a well-rounded film study education that encourages individual creativity and style. Enrollees further exercise technical production skills while furthering film studies and examining theoretical approaches to cinema. Students work on several individual and group productions to become familiar and adept with the multiple disciplines in filmmaking. They typically work on short films with small crews and progress to create longer, more complex productions with sophisticated equipment and larger crews. Possible course topics include:
- Film studies, history and criticism
- Advanced field, video and audio production
- Documentary storytelling
- Budgeting and scheduling
- Business skills and networking strategies for the film industry
Master's Degree in Film or Video Production
Graduate programs in film and digital video production offer advanced study of production methods. Master's degree programs in film production take 2-3 years to complete, and are the terminal degrees for cinematic production. They may result in such awards as the Master of Fine Arts in Cinematography or Master of Science in Cinema Production, but there are many possible degree title variants. Students take advanced production and film theory courses at the graduate level. Depending on career aspirations, they may choose a specific area of concentration, such as directing or producing, and work on independent and group productions. Advanced courses address:
- Advanced cinematography, sound and lighting
- Film industry studies
- Advanced script analysis
- Critical film theory
- Short film, documentary and music video production
Popular Career Options
Students are qualified for entry-level jobs after earning an associate's degree. There are many possible occupations in film and video production. Those with a master's degree in film and video production have the technical skills and on-set experience to craft a career in film. With business savvy, networking skills and strong individuality, a film production graduate may gain industry experience and eventually secure high-profile production jobs. Common positions include:
- Camera operators
- Assistant directors and producers
- Boom operators
- Video editors
- Executive producer
- Director of photography
- Production designer
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Though the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a faster-than-average employment rate of 9% from 2014-2024, the film industry is highly competitive. The BLS also notes that those who specialize in digital technologies should have more job prospects in the emerging digital era. Independent filmmakers may offer better job prospects for industry entrants since high-profile jobs with major studios are often earned through years of experience and a solid professional reputation. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for directors and producers was $68,440 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). There are also many unions in the film industry that offer competitive pay and benefits to crew workers.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates may seek further education through bachelor's and master's degree programs in film and video production. Jobs in the entertainment industry are often earned through experience, reputation and networking, and don't necessarily require higher degrees. However, advanced skill in film production may be beneficial due to the competitive nature of entertainment industries. Training programs are also available through community colleges and film organizations. They offer introductory training in craft areas such as camera work, sound, props, script supervising, screenwriting, wardrobe and set design.
Associate's degrees, bachelor's degrees, and master's degrees all provide students with a foundation of the theory and technical aspects of directing, producing, screenwriting, budgeting and audio/video. Different degree levels are appropriate depending on the desired job in this competitive career.