by Adam Waldorf
Currently, if you want a four-year degree in film, animation and digital media you’d have to go to a private school and pay a small fortune. That may change soon if a plan headed toward the Georgia Board of Regents is approved.
A proposal that would create a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Animation at GPC has passed the Faculty Senate and awaits final approval before being sent off to the BOR. If the BOR approves the plan, the degree would be scheduled to be offered in fall semester 2012.
According to the proposal from GPC’s Humanities and Fine Arts department, the degree will “prepare students to be competitive in the pursuit of advanced degrees and/or careers in the rapidly expanding film and digital media industry in Georgia.”
The program would mark a significant expansion of GPC’s film program, which currently only offers film studies classes.
David Koffman, department chair of Fine Arts and Humanities at Clarkston campus, emphasizes the unique nature of this program among University System of Georgia schools.
“The curriculum is integrated,” he says. “Every semester the same courses are going to be linked in content. So what you’d be learning in a film theory class you would be applying in film production and then applying animation production principles to that too.”
Film production has recently become a major industry in Georgia. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, nearly $700 million was invested in Georgia by television networks, Hollywood studios, production companies and independent producers in the fiscal year of 2011 with an estimated economic impact of $2.4 billion.
Additionally, four full service sound stages were recently completed or expanded in the state.
“There are a lot of employment opportunities that are behind this and there’s also a lot of student interest,” Koffman says of the impetus for the program.
One of the guidelines that GPC follows when proposing four-year degrees to the BOR is that the program is non-duplicative. “Georgia State has a film program,” Koffman says, “but it’s in their communications department and it’s not very heavily production oriented. It’s more film studies oriented. They do have some production classes, but they don’t have nearly the facilities to offer a really robust program.”
Private schools in the state do offer similar programs, but those schools don’t provide the access to students of limited economic means that GPC does. “You can look at a program like Savannah College of Art and Design and they’re very specific, they’ve got a lot of stuff,” Koffman says, “but their programs are very expensive. This would be an affordable, high quality, state-sponsored education.”
If approved, this would be the third Bachelor degree offered by GPC, after sign language interpreting and health information, and the first in the Fine Arts and Humanities department. At first, the program would only be offered at Clarkston and Dunwoody campuses, but would later expand to Decatur and Newton.