The Film and Digital Media Major 2012-13
The film & digital media major at UC Santa Cruz offers an integrated curriculum studying the history, theory, and culture of cinema, television video, and digital media, as well as a production program in the aesthetics and techniques of film and digital media. Graduates of the UC Santa Cruz film & digital media program have enjoyed considerable success in the professional world and have gained admission to top graduate schools in the field.
Study and Research Opportunities
- B.A., Ph.D., M.A., undergraduate minor
- Department-sponsored independent field study opportunities (with faculty and department approval)
High School Preparation
High school students who plan to major in film & digital media need no special preparation other than the courses required for UC admission.
Three lower-division and 10 upper-division courses are required for completion of the general major. Transfer students who complete the requirements to declare the major by the end of their second quarter and pursue the major as advised should be able to complete the general major within two years. As preparation, prospective transfer students are strongly encouraged to fulfill at least one lower-division Film & Digital Media major requirement (20-level courses) through UC Santa Cruz Summer Session prior to transfer.
Transfer students must petition the department to have equivalent lower-division courses taken at their current institution count toward their lower-division major requirements, provided they have earned a B- or higher in each course being submitted for substitution. At least one of the 20-level courses taken to meet the minimum grade requirement to declare the major must be taken at UCSC. Students who have completed none of the lower-division major requirements prior to transfer to UC Santa Cruz, students who are interested in graduating with a double major, students who are interested in pursuing a Film & Digital Media concentration, and students who must finish general education requirements may need additional time to complete their studies. Transfer students are highly encouraged to speak with an academic adviser at the department office prior to enrolling in classes in order to determine their status and to begin the declaration of major process as soon as possible. (See also Declaring the Film and Digital Media Pre-Major.)
While it is not a condition of admission, students from California community colleges may complete the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) in preparation for transfer to UC Santa Cruz.
Transfer course agreements and articulation between the University of California and California community colleges can be accessed on the ASSIST.ORG web site.
Further transfer preparation information can be located at: uctransfer.universityofcalifornia.edu
Former film & digital media program students include Academy-Award winning editor Stephen Mirrione (Traffic, Babel, The Informant!), cinematographer Amy Vincent (Hustle and Flow), television writer and producer Marti Noxon (Mad Men, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Akiva Schaffer, who directs and co-writes the Digital Shorts for Saturday Night Live.
From the class of 1998, Sarah Schechter is Vice President of Production at Warner Brothers; Dylan Wilcox is Director of Worldwide Acquisitions for the Universal Pictures Group; and James Mockoski is Film Archivist for Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope. 2003 graduates Cam Archer and Aaron Platt had short films selected by the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Archer’s first feature-length film, Wild Tigers I Have Known, was executive produced by Gus Van Sant. Aaron Platt received a 2007 Independent Spirit Award nomination for his camera work on the film and Archer’s second feature was selected for the Cannes 2010 Directors Fortnight. Lauren Sorensen (2003) is a Preservation Specialist at the Bay Area Video Coalition, which has recently preserved such video treasures as a Beastie Boys live performance at The Kitchen and work by video pioneer Mabou Mines. After completing her studies at UCSC, Sorensen received an M.A. in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation from NYU. Jeremy Schwartz (2004) completed a residency with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, where he created several large-form interactive media installations as part of the League of Imaginary Scientists. In May, he was elected president of The iotaCenter, an internationally renowned institution dedicated to the promotion, preservation, and study of abstract cinema and experimental animation. Trisha Gum (2004), former Art Director and art department coordinator at Shadowmachine Films (Frankenhole, Robot Chicken, Moral Orel, Titan Maximum), was recently accepted into the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, and is currently producing her short Losing Ferguson, funded in part through the donation of works by Los Angeles-based stop motion animators.
Film & Digital Media faculty include renowned filmmakers, digital media artists, social documentarians, installation artists, and award-winning authors. Their works have been screened at international film festivals and on PBS television, and they have had their art works exhibited at such venues as the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, the Walker Arts Center, ISEA digital arts festival, and others.
Professor Gustavo Vazquez is currently working on the second edition of Documentary Filmmaking: A Contemporary Field Guide, a book designed to provide practical, step-by-step information for aspiring filmmakers. Read the full story.
Professor John Jota Leaños, a media artist and social art practitioner who focuses on critical convergences of history, memory, social space, and decolonization, was awarded a 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship for the creative arts. Professor Leaños is one of a diverse group of 181 artists, scientists, and scholars selected this year from a group of 3,000 applicants. Read the full story.
Professor B. Ruby Rich received the Frameline Award in June 2012. The Frameline Award is the highest honor bestowed by the annual San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, and Professor Rich is only the second film critic chosen in the award's 27-year history. Read the full story.
Professor Warren Sack is the associate director of a “Data and Democracy” initiative established in 2011 by CITRIS – the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society – a joint venture of four University of California campuses. Read the full story.
Professor Renee Tajima-Peña was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011. Tajima-Peña has used the fellowship to complete work on film and transmedia projects, including, “Mas Bébés?,” a film she is currently shooting, that documents allegations of coercive sterilizations of Mexican American women at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in the 1960s and 1970s. Read the full story.
Professor Emeritus Chip Lord is one of 20 artists to create video art works for an innovative installation at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Titled “To and From LAX,” Lord’s piece offers a portrait of the global infrastructure of air travel through the use of photos and videos that have been shot in public spaces at more than 25 airports, as well as inflight. Read the full story.
Professor Sharon Daniel’s online art project, “Public Secrets,” was honored with a 2007 Webby Award in the Activism category. The Webbys are the “Academy Awards of the Internet,” according to the New York Times. Read the full story. View "Public Secrets."
Professor Shelley Stamp was named one of two 2003 Academy Film Scholars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for her book on silent film legend Lois Weber. Read the full story.
Graduates of the film & digital media program have established careers as professionals in the fields of film, video, television, and digital media, working as filmmakers, editors, digital media artists, film archivists, media educators, film festival curators, script analysts, cinematographers, television producers, computer programmers, and studio executives. Recent graduates have screened work at the Sundance Film Festival, Cinequest, the Milan Film Festival, the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival, the Santa Cruz Film Festival, and on HBO. Graduates of the film & digital media program also have a strong track record of gaining admission to the top graduate programs for M.A., M.F.A., and Ph.D. degrees, including USC, UCLA, NYU, Columbia, Chapman, the American Film Institute, Cal Arts, the University of Iowa, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Declaring the Film & Digital Media Pre-Major
Students who have completed one lower-division requirement (FILM 20A, 20B, or 20C) with a grade of B- or better may declare the film & digital media pre-major. Pre-majors will be eligible for priority enrollment in upper-division critical studies classes, provided they have satisfied the necessary prerequisites. Pre-majors are expected to complete the requirements to declare the major by the end of their second year. Transfer students are expected to meet the requirements for the pre-major no later than the end of their first quarter and meet the requirements to declare no later than the end of their second quarter.
Declaring the Film & Digital Media Major
Prior to declaring the film & digital media major, students must complete course 20A, and either 20B or 20C, with a grade of B- or better. Courses 20A, 20B, and 20C must be taken for a letter grade by students intending to major in film & digital media. Students who have met the B- grade minimum for declaration of the major may choose to take course 20P as the third lower-division requirement. Students are encouraged to complete the lower-division courses early in their studies so that the petition to major status is accomplished no later than the first quarter of the junior year. Acceptance into the film & digital media major does not constitute acceptance into the critical studies, production, or integrated critical practice concentration.
UC Santa Cruz lower-division offerings for the film & digital media major are:
- FILM 20A, Introduction to Film Studies; and two of the following three courses:
- FILM 20B, Introduction to Television Studies
- FILM 20C, Introduction to Digital Media
- FILM 20P, Introduction to Production Technique
Critical Studies Concentration
The critical studies concentration provides a more rigorous pathway through the film & digital media major and offers classes specifically reserved for seniors with exceptional abilities who wish to focus on the critical, historical, and theoretical study of film, television, video, and digital media. Students are eligible to apply for the critical studies concentration in the last quarter of their junior year provided they have completed FILM 120 (Introduction to Film Theory and Criticism) and at least three other upper-division critical studies classes. Applicants must already be declared film & digital media majors in good standing.
Admission to the production concentration is highly selective based on promise and accomplishment shown in the student’s work and generally restricted to third- and fourth-year students. FILM 170A (Fundamentals of Digital Media Production) is the prerequisite for most digital media production courses and is the foundational course for students interested in pursuing a digital media focus. FILM 170B (Fundamentals of Film and Video Production) is the prerequisite for most film/video production courses and is the foundational course for students interested in pursuing a filmmaking focus. After completing 170A or 170B students may apply to the production concentration by submitting works created in 170A or 170B to a portfolio review conducted at the end of each quarter. Applications are reviewed by a committee of Film & Digital Media production faculty. Students should note that production courses are in high demand and that faculty/student ratios and equipment resources require a limitation on the number of applicants accepted into the production concentration.
Integrated Critical Practice Concentration
The integrated critical practice concentration provides a more rigorous pathway through the film & digital media major and offers classes specifically reserved for seniors with exceptional abilities in both critical studies and production who seek to combine creative and scholarly work. Students are eligible to apply for this concentration in the last quarter of their junior year, provided they have completed FILM 120 and at least three other upper-division critical studies classes. Acceptance into the production concentration is a necessary pre-condition for acceptance into the integrated critical practice concentration. Admission is granted to declared film & digital media majors in good standing with overwhelmingly excellent evaluations, an outstanding writing sample, an excellent sample of creative work, and a clear statement of purpose outlining a senior project that integrates critical studies and production work.
The Film and Digital Media Minor
See the UC Santa Cruz General Catalog for more details.
All seniors in the general film and digital media major or the production concentration may select one of three options to satisfy the campus exit requirement:
- Senior seminar: The senior seminars (courses in the 194 series) are restricted to majors in their senior year and are writing intensive. Students in the general major are required to complete one senior seminar. Students in the production concentration may complete the senior seminar to satisfy the senior exit requirement or as an elective.
- Senior thesis: With prior faculty approval, a student may elect to do a senior thesis (FILM 195, Senior Thesis/Project). The student must contact a faculty member at least one quarter in advance to submit a proposal and obtain faculty approval for a senior thesis. The proposal may involve writing a screenplay, expanding on a paper from a previously completed upper-division critical studies course in film & digital media, or writing an original paper in a particular area resulting in a work of substantial research.
- Senior project: A limited number of students in the production concentration are able to participate in the senior project (FILM 196A, Senior Project in Film and Video Production; FILM 196B, Senior Project in Screenwriting; FILM 196C, Senior Documentary Workshop; or FILM 197, Senior Digital Media Workshop). Admission is by application, with review of previous works and evaluation of the proposed final project by Film & Digital Media production faculty.
Seniors in the critical studies concentration must complete the following to satisfy the campus exit requirement: FILM 194A, Film Theory Seminar, FILM 199, Tutorial, and either FILM 192, Student-Directed Seminar, or FILM 195, Senior Thesis.
Seniors in the integrated critical practice concentration will propose a project that integrates critical studies and production work, combining FILM 192, 195, 196A, 196B, 196C, or 197 with an independent study (FILM 199) taken either consecutively or simultaneously.
Graduate Program in Film & Digital Media
The Ph.D. program focuses on the integrated critical practice of film & digital media. For more information, visit film.ucsc.edu/phd_program/home.
The M.A. program offers students a chance to develop expertise in the understanding and production of social documentaries in various mediums, primarily film/video, multimedia, photography, and new digital media. For more information, visit socdoc.ucsc.edu.
Film and Digital Media Department
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, California 95064