A Major Dilemma: Film and Media Studies

If you’ve talked to many students at William & Mary, you’ve likely noticed that it’s uncommon for them to be interested in a single field. Double-majoring, picking a minor, and choosing interdisciplinary fields are all common ways students choose in their quest to graduate as a well-rounded student. Film and Media Studies is a structured interdisciplinary program, where students take six core classes within the department, then fulfill the rest of the of their credit requirements by working closely with their major advisor to choose classes that contribute to their understanding of the cultural contexts in which media is created and produced. In order to do this, students can choose classes in American Studies, Art and Art History, English, History, Modern Languages and Literature, Music, Sociology, or Theater. Majors must complete 36 credit hours to earn a BA (catalog with requirements here), and minors must complete 18 credits (full list of requirements here). A major in the department, Alex Bulova, provides a student’s perspective on what it’s like to major in FMST.

1. Why did you choose this major? I’ve always loved making and watching movies, so I knew from my first semester at W&M that I wanted to major in Film and Media Studies. However, what really makes William & Mary’s film department special is how the professors take what we learn from watching movies and apply it to real world issues. Film and media act as mirrors that reflect the underlying public psyche during particular historical eras. By studying film, you’re not just learning about production and theory – you’re engaging in culture and politics. It’s this applicability that ultimately made me choose to major in Film and Media Studies.

2. Favorite thing about the major? Because Film and Media Studies is one of the lesser known majors on campus, it’s a very tight-knit group. More so than my other major, Government, everyone gets to know each other, which creates a wonderful sense of community. Additionally, everyone in the department is extremely passionate about film and media, which makes attending class and working on projects all the more fun.

3. Favorite class you’ve taken in the major and why? My favorite film and media studies class has been FMST 370, Advanced Documentary Production. We spent the entire semester learning different aspects of production, such as lighting, sound, and editing. We then used those skills to produce short documentaries, which were screened in Swem. While I love learning film theory and history, nothing compares to actually producing your own film, which is why I value this course so much.

4. Favorite professor/s in the department? I have two favorite professors: Jennifer Taylor, my wonderful advisor, and Tanya Stadelmann, whom I’ve taken Intro to Film and Documentary Production with. Both professors have shaped how I approach film studies, and have encouraged me to pursue my passions, both inside and outside the classroom.

5. What would you tell someone considering this major? The film department at William & Mary is wonderful for learning theory, history, and basic production, but if you want to go into film production, you have to be active outside of the classroom. Join WMTV, work at the Media Center, compete in the 24 Hour Film Fest, etc. Use all of the resources the university has to offer. You’ll learn a lot just by making your own movies, and that will only enhance your studies in the classroom.

A big thanks to Alex for taking the time and offering his insights regarding FMST!  If you want to hear about a specific W&M program, message Peer Advising on Facebook, and we’ll incorporate that program into our Major Dilemma series this summer. If you have any questions regarding academic programs or policies, or questions about life at W&M, you can email Peer Advising at OAAPeeradvising@wm.edu.

Categories: Academics, Student Blogs
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