Friday, 6 June 2014

Bring Back OUR Film Studies

When I was choosing my options for college I knew that I wanted to be a journalist. I didn't know what field, and I didn't even know if I was good enough to do it, but that's what I wanted to do. I had chosen two subjects at that time: Media Studies and English Language. Hey, what better subjects to choose then those two in this day and age of journalism? However, I was stuck for a third choice. I didn't want anything too academic because I had never really thrived in academia, but I wanted something that would look good on my CV. In the end, I went out on a whim and decided to shoot for Film Studies, a course that I didn't really know much about, but I had always liked films and I had always liked giving my opinions. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Recently, it was announced that Film Studies was going to be cut from the A-Level syllabus, and, frankly, that doesn't sit well with me. For the life of me I can't work out what makes Film Studies different to any other subject, especially 'academic' subjects like English Language. The concept is exactly the same. You have to analyse something and write about it in depth with intelligence and structure to achieve marks. In the case of Film Studies it's films and in the case of English it's a text of some sort or a novel. Cutting Film Studies is exactly the same as cutting a subject like English, but that would never happen because it's a 'pure' subject. Well, maybe the people deciding (who have never sat in a Film Studies class may I add), should see what potential it has as a subject and how far it can take you in life.

I've found that Film Studies has actually helped me achieve in English Language. It taught me more about essay writing than English Language ever did and it gave me an opportunity to hone my writing skills on a subject that I have a deep passion about. It was Film Studies that made me discover my love for films. Films of all languages, directors and cultures; black and white and colour. I got to study films like La Haine and City of God, to mainstream American cinema such as Fargo and Chinatown.

It's perceived as an 'easy' subject, but that can't be any further than the truth. Yes, anyone can watch a film, but can anyone truly understand, analyse and argue a film? If that were the case would the original Godzilla not be banned for being propaganda? What about Battleship Potempkin or the films of Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel? Film making isn't just an entertainment tool, it's the way to tell stories that need to be told. It's one of the most important tools in politics and if people aren't being taught how to make that kind of film or realise that kind of film then it is very disappointing, indeed.

It helped me see film for what it really was, an art. How is it any different to an 'arty' subject like Fine Art or Photography? The real answer is that it's not. If it were not for Film Studies I wouldn't be pushing to get into the film journalism industry. I'm now going onto university to study Film Studies and am writing for various film websites. This is because I was surrounded by people passionate about film and people I could have an intelligent discussion with for two years. Students that had different opinions to me, students that were just as intelligent and creative as you'd find in any other class at college. If anything, this is going to have a negative effect on the industry.

And it's not just the theoretical side of it that will be missed, it's the practical side too. I was given the chance to write screenplays and have feedback given to me from screenwriters. Where else are people going to find that for free? We were given the opportunity to use equipment that is far beyond the budgets of students. Without the experience of crafting a screenplay, or making a film, who's to say that this won't have a negative effect on the industry? Maybe they'll be less people striving to make it because they don't know how to, or because they haven't had enough experience.

Film Studies teaches kids to critically analyse imagery, editing and cinematography just like a child would analyse metaphors, similes and alliteration in a novel. And at a time when there's more imagery, more media, than ever before, the thing that'll equip kids to understand is gone. To take away our film studies, it to dismiss it as an art, an industry and as a legitimate profession to be apart of it – and that's just not right.

And all because the people on their high horses don't understand it. It's a darn shame.