The Best Kept Secret in the UCs

Sophia Chang/New University

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Film and Media Studies Department at UC Irvine. The department has come a long way from its conception as an emphasis in 1981 and its evolution to a program in 1985. Already a thrilling and exciting field, film and media studies at UCI shows no plans of stopping anytime soon.

Someone who has been with Film and Media Studies since its departmentalization in 2002 is Department Chair Dr. Victoria Johnson, who described this transition as easy because of the strength of film and media studies as a program prior to its conception as a department.

The departmentalization has provided UCI with greater resources, a larger curriculum and most importantly, an increased staff of talented individuals.

“The new building and the media lab, the equipment, the staff that we’ve been able to hire, have allowed us to have the additional resources for students that I think are really important to a full department and a full-on major,” said Dr. Johnson.

As of 2011, film and media studies comprises the second-largest major in the humanities at UCI, serving over 320 majors and over 50 minors. This success can be attributed to the amazing staff at UCI as well as student initiative. According to Dr. Johnson, collaboration beyond the classroom is extremely productive and “really energizing” for the major, and are copiously encouraged by the department. Anteater Television, Zot Film and FADA are just a few promising student organizations which have grown out of departmental encouragement and student enterprise.

In terms of the student response to the film department, Dr. Johnson has seen no change other than an increase in number between 2002 and 2012. Student attitude and excitement has stayed the same.

Evidently, the passion with which Anteaters pursue film and media has been unswerving in the past decade. The faculty is also focused on securing partnerships with contributors and creating ample internship opportunities for its students. It is clear that film and media studies is a consistent and promising department at UCI, with faculty who work just as hard for the students as the students work for it.

“I think we’re still kind of the best kept secret in the UC system, in really good ways,” said Dr. Johnson with a smile.

At the moment, the film and media studies department is working on growth. They hired a new faculty member last year and will be hiring another one this year. This is a response to the problem that the department is still too small. Ideally, the department would like to reach a level of consistent growth and hire at least eight more faculty members. The development of resources from year to year and an increase in the number of screening and event opportunities are foreseeable goals of the department.

The Department of Film and Media Studies provides a liberal arts degree with an emphasis on critical thinking skills and clear demonstration of those skills. The core curriculum, which has been integrated from the years before film and media became a department focuses on history, theory and close analysis of film and media. The critical thinking and analytical skills taught by the department are useful and applicable to everyday life. Being able to communicate clearly and think synthetically are specific skills the department aims at developing in students, and are abilities which they believe are useful to candidates in any job field.

According to Dr. Johnson, one does not need to be a film and media studies major to profit from film and media studies courses, and the department encourages students from other majors to take advantage of the elective classes that are offered on a quarterly basis.

So far, the department has been able to achieve success with limited resources.

“The proudest moment for me probably as department chair was finishing up the media lab and hiring the most amazing staff,” said Johnson.

With this positive attitude and an exemplary staff, it is fair to say that film and media is on the rise at UCI and is a force to be reckoned with.

This fall, the Film and Media Studies Department will celebrate its 10th anniversary and will promote events along with the celebration. These events include speakers and screenings in the McCormick Screening Room (located on the first floor of Humanities Gateway) and a summer film series with free popcorn. So come out, have fun, be entertained and take advantage of the prodigious Film and Media Studies Department.