California State University, Long Beach
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Film and Electronic Arts Keeps Evolving

Published: August 21, 2017

Film and Electronic Arts crew in action

CSULB’s Department of Film and Electronic Arts (FEA) has been in existence for more than 50 years and, in the ever-changing business of film, has continually evolved to stay current with the industry.

“We’re adapting to a rapidly changing media landscape where it’s not only theatrical film and broadcast television, but also webisodes, video games and digital arts,” said FEA Department Chair Jerry Mosher. “We have to respond to what’s going on in the industry, while keeping focused on teaching foundational storytelling skills for moving images. That’s what enables our students to adapt to new technologies and distribution platforms.”

This has been apparent with the many recent developments in the department. In the past few years, it has added new tracks in digital arts and production design to its already extensive list of specializations.

Mosher explained that the digital arts track, as well as new courses in color correction and game design, exemplify how the department will continue to evolve based on industry needs. Editing and post-production, he noted, are areas where recent graduates are finding jobs.

“Everything has moved into the digital realm, and these areas continue to offer entry-level opportunities for graduates with training and experience,” Mosher said.

Another result of the field’s constant evolution is the need for physical upgrades in the department and acquiring the necessary technology to keep students up to date.

The department has received some major upgrades, such as a newly outfitted high-definition TV studio through a collaboration with PADNET, the Long Beach public access digital network. There are also plans for new editing labs in the remodeling of the Peterson Hall-2 building. The department is also in the process of acquiring more 4K cameras.

“Film cameras could be maintained for decades,” noted Mosher. “The lifespan for digital cameras is now around five years.”

Although having the latest technology is important for student learning, Mosher cautioned that technology should not be an end in itself.

“We want to give our students the relevant tools, but what will sustain them in their careers are creative problem solving, resourcefulness and professionalism,” Mosher said. “That’s why learning foundational skills, best practices and the history of the discipline is essential–they distinguish the professional from the amateur.”

The FEA Department faces many challenges when it comes to adapting to industry demands, but its efforts have not gone unnoticed.

Recently, the department was honored by being ranked the No. 4 top value undergraduate film program in the U.S. by College Values Online.

The main focus in its ranking for film schools is affordability and return on investment. Other important criteria include a well-rounded, relevant film studies curriculum; state-of-the-art film and production equipment; and alumni success.

“We’re really proud that our program is affordable and accessible,” Mosher said. “It’s important that our students can get a valuable education without paying the exorbitant tuition charged at some private film schools. Their first professional opportunities will likely be internships and freelance gigs, and you can’t afford to do that with student loan debt.”

The FEA Department maintains a strong internship program, bolstered by its many alumni working in the industry. Mosher shared some success stories from recent graduates.

Two recent graduates got jobs at Fox Deportes, where they produce Spanish-language coverage of sports. Another student who graduated last year recently worked in the visual effects department at Paramount for the new “Transformers” movie.

The FEA Department would not be where it is today without its constantly adapting nature. With a competitive and evolving media industry, the department stays current so that it can provide the best tools and skills for its students to succeed after graduation.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Mosher said. “We have engaged, caring faculty who are invested in our program’s long-term success and our students are incredibly hard working and resourceful. It’s a great learning environment.”