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What skills do you learn in Film Studies that can help find a career in the television business?

I am 18 years old and I ask this question because I am interested in the movie and television business. My dream is working in FOX, ABC, or NBC. I thought I should take Theater , however I am more on screen shows and movies. #movies #film #communications #media

Thank you comment icon Start with photography, and audio editing, that will seriously get your foot in the door of TV production. Sidney

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Brandon’s Answer

Hi,

It sounds like your instinct is leading you in the right direction. There are many different aspects to the tv and film industry. Theater is one way to learn a lot about some of them. If a college or university doesn't have a strong film program, theater is a great place to learn the skills also needed in film. There are plenty of opportunities in theater in most cities to either work or donate time. For on screen talent, you will see that many of the great actors either come from the theater or have it in their credits. Theater also will develop your skills in lighting, directing, writing, development and other production tracks. One of the most important parts is the learning of lingo and soft skills that come with all production work.


As far as film studies, it offers many of the same benefits. You also learn more skills that are directed at the camera. Many of these skills like editing, camera work, writing, and directing cross into the tv industry. Some programs also offer more work in a studio environment, especially of they are more of a media production program.


The major thing that separates TV from film is the live aspect of TV. That is where a tv degree comes in handy. The use of telecommunication (broadcasting systems) comes with it's own training. This includes things like working with live production trucks/vans, and live video switching which comes into play in a news environment. Outside of the live studio news aspect, many of the same skills are used in recorded tv shows and even in the field.


Live news also is not all that different outside of the studio. The photographers (or camera operators) are much like camera operators in the film industry only they are usually doing more lighting themselves and when they are live, there is no second take.


I hope all of this helps and I encourage you to get involved in the theater program, even if it is on the side and not your main track of study.


I will also add, it will make finding talent for your film assignments a lot easier if you are friends with stage actors. I found the theater later in life but befriended many of the folks in my campus' theater program, that friendship definitely helped me find talent and even learned plenty of things just by tagging along with them in the theater environment.


I work in corporate video production and we have many folks with news production backgrounds and their stills are just as useful in video production as they are in news. Sometimes they are even more skilled when it comes to tight deadlines and being able to think fast about something you might spend hours or days on if it were a film environment.

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Hank’s Answer

Well, unless the term "Film Studies" has drastically changed, this particular discipline is more the examination of film and TV, and not so much the creating of it. While knowing the roots and history is important, one tends to be more valuable in the industry if one knows how it all works.


If you want to be in the creative or production end of the industry, I would urge you to take courses in all aspects of filmmaking. Don't ignore historical or analytical courses, however.


If you want to work purely in the administrative end of the industry, knowledge of business, marketing, finance, etc. could easily be of more value than knowing what a C-Stand is.


But, for example, if you will be preparing budgets for films or TV shows/series, you really do need to know times, costs, and production requirements. I don't think any "Film Studies" courses are designed to offer that.



Hank recommends the following next steps:

Check out the course syllabi for any "Film Studies" courses you're thinking of taking. See if your take-away is "practical" versus theoretical.
Inquire of TV studios, film studios, and production companies regarding what they look for in the folks they hire. Is there a place for a film or TV "generalist" in their organization? Make sure they understand you're not asking to be hired at this point.
See yourself working in the industry and try to match the job type you see with courses that either specifically address it or clearly contribute the skills and knowledge that would make performing that job not just possible, but enjoyable and fulfilling.
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