Prospective Students

What to Expect in the Film Major

“I simply do not believe there’s a better Film Studies program in the world. The in-depth analysis of filmmaking and genre is presented with brilliance and clarity by professors who know so much they just might have to be killed. The major gave me an understanding of the art, the necessary requirement for any kind of creator. The alumni community has an uncommon cohesion; people united not just by an alma mater, but by the elevating experience of having studied with true visionaries, fed off a shared creative energy, and watched some really weird flicks.”
—Joss Whedon, creator, producer, and director of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly

Once accepted into the Film Studies major, students can expect time-intensive courses and lots of hard work, but great camaraderie and close interaction with faculty. Upper-level seminars are small classes that are designed to encourage in-depth analysis of films organized according to genre, author, or national cinema. Classes typically include lectures, discussions, and two to seven film screenings a week, as well as analytical and/or research papers, and group presentations.

To fulfill the major, students must complete satisfactorily ten Film Studies courses, including:

  • Two Introductory Courses: Film 304: History of Global Cinema and Film 307: The Language of Hollywood: Styles, Storytelling, and Technology
  • One basic production course; Film 450: Sight and Sound Workshop
  • Film 414: Senior Seminar or a Senior Thesis Project
  • A minimum of six history/theory electives

Film Studies majors are not required to complete honors projects to fulfill their major program of study. However, if students do not undertake an honors project they are instead required to take a senior seminar on an advanced topic of study. Large percentages of majors do opt for a senior honors thesis, which can take the form of a written history thesis, a screenplay, a 16mm film, a digital video, or a virtual filmmaking project. Senior Honors theses provide majors with the opportunity to advance what they have learned in their previous coursework through an extended individual project. Film Studies maintains a rigorous approach to evaluating Honors theses, but also provides close, one-on-one advising. Prizes exist for all forms of senior honors work.

Besides course work, students have many other opportunities to get involved in Wesleyan’s film community. Many students work for the Wesleyan Film Series, which screens more than 110 new and classic American and foreign films in the fall and spring semesters. The Film Series is programmed by the student and faculty Film Board, and hires projectionists, house managers, and cashiers to staff the events. Other students volunteer to crew for seniors who are making 16mm films or digital videos for their Honors theses, thereby gaining valuable production experience and learning from their peers. The Film Series and crew opportunities enable students to develop programming, managerial, and technical skills while working on collaborative projects much like those they will encounter after graduation.

For more information about the Film Studies major, go the Major Program page.