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Questions and Answers about Film and Media
You'll be faced with a wide array of courses to choose from in your first year. You might have decided on some of them long ago. There might be others you never knew existed until you saw them listed. You can only take five, and you're probably wondering what's interesting, what's enjoyable, and what's best for you and your future. In general it's a good idea to explore a broad range of subjects in first year, to give yourself lots of scope before you finally decide on a Major. As you plan your first year at Queen's, and you're putting together a package of courses, your thinking might be running along lines something like these...
Q: I want to take some history, and I'm interested in sociology and politics as well. I plan to spend time studying Canadian issues, and I know it's important to understand modern communications and the mass media. But I want to extend my creative side as well and really see if I've got talent for expressive, artistic work. How am I going to get it all in?
A: One program that covers a lot of this ground is Film and Media.
Q: Sorry, but I'm not really into old movies.
A: We do look at some great old movies, but for the most part, Film Studies courses concentrate on today's systems of mass communication, information and entertainment. How does television advertising make us want to buy things we don't need? How do music videos tell us what we need to be masculine or feminine? What do movies tell us about modern life at the same time as they entertain us? What makes an art both popular and culturally significant?
Q: So we watch movies and TV in class?
A: In a Film and Media course, a film or video clip is used like a textbook in any other course, or like a specimen in a biology lab. First we have a look at it from the outside, then we examine how it's put together, and try to figure out why. Of course, we refer to books -- some of the best modern criticism is written about film and television -- and we try to get a take on how mass communications have developed during the twentieth century, and how they're changing as we approach the twenty-first.
Q: I guess that's where politics comes in, eh?
A: Politics, history, economics, sociology. You'll probably want to study at least some of these disciplines in their own right. But in Film and Media, we approach cinema and television, fiction movies and documentaries, advertising and experimental film in the real context that makes them possible. We're trying to understand the world that the media portray to us, but also the world that produces and consumes those media images.
Q: Would I be able to produce some of those images? I haven't done any video or filmmaking in high school.
A: No previous experience necessary! Like most University departments, Film and Media expects its students to be well-rounded high school graduates, but doesn't require you to be an expert before you register. As for making film and video, we want you to take at least one production course to complete an Honours concentration in Film. If you want to, and show the aptitude, you can include up to 3.5 production courses among the 10 that you need to do over four years.
Q: Since you mention it, what do I have to do to get my BA?
A: You can get a General Bachelor of Arts degree after taking 15 credits (usually in three years), with five of them being from one subject of concentration, such as Film and Media. Most students in Arts and Science take an Honours degree, which is based on 19 credits (usually in four years), with 10 being from one subject of concentration (which is called your Major). If your interests are wider, or you would like more flexibility in your Honours Film Studies program, you can combine seven credits from each of two areas of concentration into a Medial concentration: you might combine Film and Politics, for example, or Film and Art.
Q: You know, it sounds interesting. But I want an education that might lead to a higher degree or a professional school or give me a good start on a career. Won't a Film and Media degree be awfully limiting?
A: Film and Media began at Queen's over 25 years ago, and has become one of the most respected departments of its kind on the continent. Film Studies courses are designed to encourage students in the critical thinking that is important to leadership in any profession. Film Studies graduates from Queen's University have gone into every career imaginable: they've become business people, lawyers, writers, teachers in public schools, high schools and universities, advertising executives, public relations consultants and so on. Of course, more than a few have gone into show business. Some run theatres, some have been film distributors, and quite a few work in film and television production. They win Oscars, Emmies and Genies; they make features and documentaries and intensely personal artistic films that attract international attention. There is nothing limiting about a Film Studies degree.
Q: I hear a lot about big university classes. How would I keep from getting lost in the crowd?
A: Two things help. Film and Media is one of the smaller departments in the University, and it's one of the very few departments that has its own self-contained facilities. Two houses, at 154 and 160 Stuart Street, have been renovated and connected to provide the main resources for students and staff. There is an archive of films, video cassettes and video discs, which can be played for study and research. There are seminar rooms, film and video editing rooms, recording rooms and so forth: all the necessary facilities for studying and producing visual imagery. In the midst of it all is a student lounge, which is where students meet between classes or hold crisis sessions when they're up late editing a film. One of the best things about Film and Media is that students and faculty members work together in a relaxed and informal atmosphere, and get to know each other in a way that is almost impossible in bigger departments.
See also First Year in Film and Media.
For information on admission and fees, see the University Registrar.
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