“When I was graduating from high school in 1976, I didn’t know the first thing about college except that I wanted to study film and maybe be a writer. My guidance counselor looked up Wesleyan in the ‘book,’ and said, ‘Wow, a really high percentage of Wesleyan film majors go on to actually work in the business.’ We compared it to other schools and Wesleyan ranked near the top. When I got to Wesleyan, I understood why: Jeanine Basinger and Richard Slotkin and the other film professors gently but firmly turned every one of my preconceptions about film upside down. They showed me film after film and forced me to think about them critically. Surrounded by interesting and intelligent students, challenged and encouraged by my teachers, exposed to exciting new ideas and to vital works of cinematic art . . . I blossomed. Now that I am working as a writer and director in Los Angeles, I tell people that I went to Wesleyan. They inevitably ask, ‘Wait a minute. Didn’t so and so go there? And so and so? Why did so many people in the film business go to Wesleyan?’ . . . So I tell them.”
—Rocky Collins, writer and director of fiction and documentary films
The Wesleyan University Film Studies Department welcomes students who are interested in studying the moving image within the context of the University’s liberal arts tradition. All prospective students should familiarize themselves with the information and application materials available from the Admission Office; you may also want to visit the campus to get a fuller sense of what the University has to offer. All admission decisions are made solely by the Admission Office, and admission to Wesleyan does not guarantee acceptance into the Film Studies major.
The Film Studies major is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition of combining history and theory with hands-on practice in the medium. Students’ primary areas of study include film history, aesthetics, theory, genre, authorship, and the film industry. Although Film Studies requires that every major take a basic filmmaking course, and some seniors make a 16mm film, digital video, or virtual project as an Honors thesis, this is not a film production major. In fact, in-class production opportunities are limited—many majors graduate having only completed the single required production course.
The emphasis in Wesleyan’s Film Studies major is not on doing but on thinking—it is through the study of film history and the practice of analysis that students truly begin to grasp the complexities and possibilities of the film medium. Film Studies is a demanding major, but the hard work, critical thinking, and collaborative effort that it entails fuels our students’ passion for film and prepares them well for careers in all aspects of the film industry, academia, and elsewhere. Film Studies students leave Wesleyan with a wealth of knowledge and rich relationships that they continue to draw on throughout their lives.