Western makes room for a new motion picture and television degree

The movie industry is a multi-million dollar industry. Now western students can join this field thanks to the new B.F.A., Motion Picture & Television Production degree that will be offered starting fall 2006. In the past, WCU has offered an Electronic Media degree, with students working with Last Minute Productions, Power 90.5 and much more to earn valuable skills. Although this was effective, it was too broad for students seeking a career in film and television production. Three years in the making, the new B.F.A. was approved in the spring of 2006 and will replace the old Electronic Media major. “[This new major is] more content oriented,” says Jack Sholder, director of the B.F.A. program. Of course with a new major comes new equipment and supplies. However, WCU would not accept anything less than the best. With the new Fine and Performing Arts building, Western built a fully-equipped television studio, among other things. As well as the new studio, WCU also invested in many Sony High Definition cameras, motion picture lighting, and even a Sony F900 digital camera-the same type used to film the new Star Wars movie. Through the use of the new equipment, students have the opportunity to learn more about movie and TV production. “[Students will learn] how to tell a story on screen in an entertaining and compelling fashion,” says Sholder. The process begins screenwriting and then continues with directing and editing. The goal is the teach underlying principles so that when technology changes in the future, WCU graduates will be able to shift with it. Along with those principles, unspoken rules, shortcuts, and etiquette will also be taught. Assignments for students within this degree include small films and a senior thesis project. Students must also participate by means of assisting their peers with projects by becoming cast and crew. A successful program could not be achieved without a superb faculty. Some of the faculty includes Jack Sholder, Terry Curtis Fox, and Arledge Armenaki. Sholder has directed movies and TV for most of the major studios in Hollywood and has also earned an Emmy for his work with editing. Fox is the screenwriting teacher at Western that has worked on major TV series such as The Marshall and Hill Street Blues. He also served on the board of the Writers Guild of America. Armenaki, who teaches cinematography, has filmed many short features and documentaries and even began the cinematography program at the NC School of the Arts. “The faculty is what makes the program special,” says Sholder. There is no doubt that WCU has managed to gather a well rounded and experienced staff for the start of the new B.F.A. With all of the expansions at Western, it was just a matter of time until a new major was added to the curriculum. “The Chancellor is hoping this new major will bring a rise in enrollment and in return create more national recognition for the university,” says Sholder. “This is a high profile program, which we hope will generate growth for the region.” “[We hope to create a] program where students aren’t wasting time and money,” says Sholder. For more information on this program, contact Jack Sholder at jsholder@email.wcu.edu.