Upcoming FIU Film Certificate Marks Necessary Change

Ursula Muñoz Schaefer/Staff Writer

Fasten the seatbelts of your DeLorean and put on your pod racing goggles, film buffs. A 15-credit film certificate program is coming soon to FIU.

The program would reportedly be different from the short film studies certificates offered by the English and communication departments, and it would end in a capstone video project to be submitted to FIU’s very own film festival.

Our university has been in need of a program like this for a while now.

Many students attending FIU are interested in filmmaking. With no major tracks in film production to be offered, students have had to adjust and opt for “the closest thing”—i.e. broadcast media or television production with a 12-credit certificate concentration in film studies.

As someone majoring in television production, this “closest thing” mentality is something us communications students are tired of hearing. Journalism, television, film and theatre arts are all vastly different types of media and should be treated as such.

Students living in Miami with dreams of going to film school shouldn’t have to settle for a broadcast media track just because it’s the “closest thing” colleges in their area offer in terms of digital media.

“It’s frustrating because we have students who are really, really hungry to do more and maybe even move professionally beyond,” said associate theater professor Philip Church, who teaches an introductory course on acting and directing for film and television. He has also been working with FIU to get this program out and meet the demands of students looking to become filmmakers.

It’s not like the University doesn’t have excellent resources and facilities to support an idea like this. Both our Biscayne Bay and Modesto Maidique Campuses hold spacious multicam studios that I have had the pleasure of filming in for the hands-on courses I have taken.

Nevertheless, FIU’s lack of good alternatives for film-oriented students is reflected in students who are unhappy with their options.

“I think the [current] 12-credit film program is good if a student wants to understand terminology and the fundamentals of film,” said William Muñiz, a sophomore majoring in broadcast media. “Unfortunately, the fact that it’s only a 12-credit program leaves a lot to be desired in regards to hands-on learning and prestigious internship opportunities.”

Though the certificate does offer interesting courses (most of which are in the vein of film studies and not filmmaking), FIU could do more by providing a better film certificate as Church is shooting for—or even offering a bachelor’s degree sometime in the future.

“I think that offering a bachelor’s degree in film would help FIU’s reputation with the film industry and the Miami film scene as well,” said Muñiz, who is in the process of transferring to the University of Central Florida because of FIU’s lack of said opportunity. “If FIU had a film program that wasn’t exclusive to the MMC or BBC campus, I would continue my education here.”

One need not look far when it comes to great stories to tell and locations to shoot at. After all, 2017’s Oscar-winning “Moonlight,” which was filmed in our beautiful Miami, richly and authentically celebrates the diversity that makes this city so singular.

It is a shame that our communications program doesn’t capitalize on this more. Hopefully, the upcoming certificate will be a step in the right direction.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Photo courtesy of FIU Flickr.

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