July 21, 2019 | 92° F

Mason Gross introduces incoming students to its hands-on filmmaking program

Photo by Henry Fowler |

Rutgers held an open house this week for its filmmaking program, which brings together hands-on learning and a curriculum of interdisciplinary courses.

Incoming first-year students interested in filmmaking visited the Rutgers Filmmaking Center Open House at Civic Square this past Sunday. The event, which provided faculty tours and info sessions, previewed the best of what the program has to offer students.

The University filmmaking program focuses on innovative, interdisciplinary classes in documentary and fiction filmmaking, according to their site. They encourage students to build on their creativity through constructive narratives fit for the big screen.

The event introduced the structure and content of the program to students and parents while tying back to the Mason Gross community, said Charles de Agustin, a Mason Gross School of the Arts sophomore. Prospective students participated in a Q&A panel along with facility tour, introducing them to faculty members.

“It was extremely successful. The turn-out was impressive and everyone was engaged in what we had to say,” he said.

As a student in the digital filmmaking program Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program, de Agustin said the program continues to emphasize on its receptiveness to student feedback moving into its third year at the University.

“We're lucky to have program directors that are really open to student feedback. So far, the program has made improvements to how student works are exhibited through expanded screening opportunities,” he said.

A brief reel of student projects was previewed for the audience to see the diversity of students at work within the program, de Agustin said. Everything from traditional narrative work to experimental films was shown — all highlighting well-rounded filmmaking.

“That’s truly one of the best parts about the program,” de Agustin said. “We don’t funnel students into one career path like many other film schools (cinematography, sound writing) or focus on a certain kind of filmmaking.”

He said he enjoys being an active member and leader in his program. None of his classes exceed 25 students, as the program is small and it is important that incoming students understand that reality.

De Agustin said students that are still unsure about the program should reach out to its advisors and set up a personal tour, as this the best way to gain a feel for its artistic and academic feel.

Due to capacity restrictions, registration for the event was completed online, said Karina Daves, division senior administrator and undergraduate program advisor for Mason Gross School of the Arts. The event kickoff introduced students to the application process along with a presentation detailing the BFA program.

Growth in the program over the last year is due to the acceptance of transfer students into the major, Daves said. This year is the first year these students are attending classes.

“We really just wanted to get a sense of what the program was going to look like we didn’t want to have all these types of things that we may not have been able to be strong at,” she said.

Daves said the intimate nature of the film program has been allowing them to directly communicate with students and faculty about what is going right and what is not.

“One of the biggest things that we've been able to uphold and grow is that we’re still hiring people that are very much In the industry,” she said.

What separates the University’s BFA program from other schools is the hands-on experience students take from working on set with professors active in the industry, Daves said. The program has an ongoing practice which takes the first month of the school year to meet with incoming students and emphasize their open door policy.

Daves said that even though program advisors have the final say they feel it is imperative to make decisions which consider student feedback. She said thus far students seem to be happy about the curriculum and benefit from having their classes located in the same building.

“(Removing the veil of nervousness) that really determines a student who achieves and who doesn’t,” she said. “I think a lot of time we put it all on the institution but really it’s really a two-way relationship as in any other relationship, whether it’s a friendship or marriage it really takes two.” 

Christian Zapata is a School of Arts and Sciences junior. He is a correspondent for The Daily Targum.

Christian Zapata

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