Film studies majors most often seek and find employment in the art-design-culture employment sector, as well as within the film industry itself. Today the term film studies is itself a bit of a misnomer since the scope of studies extends well beyond what is traditionally considered film. In fact, the vast majority of film studies majors will end up doing something other than directing major motions pictures. Instead they will end up as professional technicians, editors, or marketers, to name a few possibilities. Outlets for and uses of the generic catch all term film also includes newer media tools, like smartphones and tablets. However, the principles and methods of filmmaking still revolve around the core of telling a visual story people are interested in.
Film studies courses are generally writing intensive in nature, as the ability to clearly express ideas to coworkers and the public is interwoven into film. So, as you might expect, the humanities play a significant role in many film studies programs. Another component of this degree will include hands on labor, regardless of what the student ultimately plans to do with their degree after graduation.
Film or specifically moving image film is now well into its second century of use, which presents a curatorial side to film: working as an archivist, historian and preservation. Other specializations range from production to distribution and writing and criticism to sales and marketing with countless variants in between. The roles film plays in buying, selling, educating and entertaining people are as diverse as the career choices within the ever growing field.
Associate’s degrees in film studies afford students the opportunity to explore this field often as an adjunct to a technical or skilled labor certificate program. Many film and video production trade and craft professionals will elect to earn an associate’s degree in order to enhance their understanding of their specific roles in the larger context of filmmaking.
Unlike many other majors where there are specific employment positions with a title that closely mimics the degree, you will find few that advertise for film studies majors. However, there are a great many jobs suited for individuals with this degree: archivists, restorers, salespeople and marketers. Bachelor degree holders in this field sometimes take advantage of professional apprenticeships and post graduate certification programs to supplement the degree.
Master’s programs in film studies are less common than bachelor’s programs due in large part to the desire for greater specialization. Students pursuing this master’s level of study may also be interested in careers as curators of film collections, which are often associated with libraries, museums and film societies dedicated to specific periods or genres.
A limited number of schools offer this highly specialized doctoral program from which most graduates pursue a career in academia as educators or curators of film collections. Most people who will pursue this degree will go into the program with a strong sense of their research goals and overall doctoral project.
Ideal Candidates for Film Studies
Film studies candidates often lie at polar opposites from each other due to the nature of film and the potential professional uses of this particular degree. Ideal candidates interested in art may reside on the opposite end of the spectrum from those interested in the business end of film, such as marketing and distribution. While film studies candidates may be contradictions of sorts, they often share a common core: a love of film and an appreciation for the many ways the medium connects with people.
Unlike other programs, film studies does not lead to a single destination career but rather an expansive field of options. The many paths include writing, editing, directing and more. Another career track is business centric and includes production, distribution and finance. Yet another path leads to preservation and another to teaching a new generation.
The outlook for film and video editors over the next ten years is one of slower than average growth, with incomes slightly below the average at $46,280 per year. The outlook for producers and directors also indicates slower than average growth, but a significantly higher average income at $71,350. The outlook for archivists and curators reflects average growth and slightly lower than average wages.