Shaping the next generation of filmmakers at ASU

Whether you are looking to write the next blockbuster film or work in the burgeoning digital media industry, the Film and Media Studies program – housed in ASU's English Department – offers a unique and integrated approach to studying and creating the media arts of film, television, recorded music, the Internet and video games.

To prepare students for their future careers in the media industry, the film program integrates theory, practice and visual media into the curriculum to understand both the cultural aspects and theoretical groundings.

Also stressed is the importance of actively engaging in dialogue with respected professionals in the entertainment field.

“We work to bring in directors, producers and actors for our students to meet face to face and benefit from guided workshops,” said Maureen Goggin, chair of the English Department.


This piece is part of ASU's focus on film. Next month we will highlight the School of Theatre and Film within the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

As for the faculty, all have worked in the industry within their designated specialties and understand the scholarly approach required to succeed. And, because the program is smaller in nature, students have direct access to professors and recourses offered in the program.

“The professors have a lot of great industry contacts and give us a good sense of what we are going to need when we start our careers,” said Allison Miller, a film and media studies senior. “One of my professors, Chris Bradley, has worked on a lot of scripts and he was an actor for a really long time as well. I think I learned more about screen writing in four weeks from his class than from anything else.”

Professor Kevin Sandler teaches contemporary media classes about the art and business behind television and new media. For him, the best way to help his students gain knowledge of the industry is to stress the importance of getting involved with internships.

“Internships will help our students get a better sense of how things work. They are gaining valuable knowledge that they can apply in interviews later down the line when they search for jobs,” Sandler said.

Heeding this advice, Miller successfully completed internships at the Phoenix Film Foundation, Marvel Comic and Zucker Productions.

“I’ve met a lot of tremendous people and received great experience,” said Miller. “When I was at Zucker Productions my job was to read scripts and then provide a synopsis with my thoughts about them.”

The flexibility of university classes has eased the struggle for Miller to balance going to school and doing internships in Los Angeles.

“You don’t need to go to a California school to get a good education,” Miller said. ”Plus, ASU has a really good online program, so while I was in L.A. for eight months I was taking classes here at the same time.”

Upon graduation, the goal for each individual is not just to receive a degree, but also to graduate with the knowledge to be a better citizen and have a more ethical approach to his or her craft.  

In Sandler’s eyes, these qualities combined with the information gained in classrooms and during internships will give Sun Devils an edge over the competition.

“The experience I received was invaluable because it offered critical thinking about the media industry as a whole and how conglomerates are constructed,” said Meghan Evans, who graduated in 2009 with duel degrees in Film and English. 

Evans, who now works at FOX television programming, credits Sandler specifically for encouraging his students to get involved in internships to gain experience in their fields and understand the pace of the media industry.

"At FOX we have a hand in a lot of different aspects of networking. The internships that I completed and the education I received have allowed me to keep up. Many of the other people I’ve met at my job to did not get the same education,” Evans said.

No matter the career path, the program seeks to provide an atmosphere for growth professionally and personally in all concentrations. The program is committed to integrating cutting-edge media technologies into the curriculum through existing and new courses devoted solely to those topics.

“If a prospective student wants to be in an innovative, exciting and team-building environment, they are going find that in the Film and Media Studies program, certainly, but also at an exciting institution like ASU,” Goggin said.