15 Things That Happen When You Major In Film

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1. Everyone assumes you’ve seen every film ever made.

“Wait. You haven’t seen Memento?? How can you even call yourself a film major?” No I haven’t seen it yet. Do I plan on seeing it eventually? Absolutely. It’s on my list of “10,000 Films I Need To See Because They’re Important To Learn From.” Oh, you’re an English major? Have you read every book by Charles Dickens and every play by William Shakespeare? What about Gabriel Garcia Marquez? Tolstoy? No, you haven’t? That’s what I thought.

2. Citizen Kane haunts your dreams.

Listen. I know we’re all supposed to worship Orson Welles and Rosebud and everything, but can we just admit that the movie’s kind of boring? I can appreciate the deep focus and all the groundbreaking yadda yadda yadda, but it’s about time someone stood up and just said it: Citizen Kane? More like Citizen Kan… we please give it a rest?

3. You’re the family’s bona fide expert during Oscar season.

“Personally, I think Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance in that film was utterly phenomenal. But given the emotional complexities of Morgan Freeman’s character, I would guess he’s more likely to win Best Actor.” Although with your family, you could probably complain about how Kevin James was totally robbed of an Oscar nom and they would be behind you 100%.

4. You adopt a new vocabulary.

F stops, C stands, Best Boys, AC, AD, DP, Second AC, Second AD, crafty, zolly shots, striking, crossing, C-47s… I petitioned to see if this could count as my foreign language requirement, but the counselor didn’t bite.

5. You dissect every aspect of every movie as you watch it.

“Ouch, why did they use a jump cut there? Did they not have adequate coverage for that scene? I guess it’s stylistic? Oh, but what a beautiful frame. Damn. Okay, so this moment would probably classify as the end of Act 2 of the narrative, right?” The internal monologue literally never stops.

6. You’re constantly bartering for crewmembers.

“Eyyyyyy I need an AC and three PAs at my shoot this weekend! Whoever can make it gets an all access pass to the crafty table, and I’ll crew on your shoot. Please? Plllleeeeaaaaasssssse. I’ll do anything.” Except, like, pay people. We’re all broke.

7. You can’t afford 90% of your shoot, so you make adjustments.

Can’t afford a dolly? Boom, borrow a wheelchair. Lighting equipment is too expensive? Looks like you’re just using practicals (but like, if anyone asks, it’s for stylistic reasons). Film permit costs make you want to curl up in a ball and cry? Guerrilla filmmaking. Or just film everything in your apartment. That works too.

8. You have horrible, horrible test anxiety.

Wait, what’s a test? Can’t we have a final project instead? I SWEAR I CAN MAKE A KILLER SHORT FILM ON THE HISTORY OF EUROPEAN CINEMA FROM 1895-1970. PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME TAKE A TEST.

9. People do not react well to hearing about your major.

Generally upon telling people that you’re majoring in film, you watch as the person freezes and grapples for an appropriate response. More often than not, they settle on, “That’s… great. So… what are you hoping to do with that?” You launch into a speech about all of your hopes and dreams, while reading their facial expression that basically shouts, “Poor thing, they’re going to be broke for the rest of their life.”

10. There’s a weird, incestuous relationship between film and theater majors.

Actors need film students and film students need actors, and somehow that translates into a strange co-mingling that often overlaps with multiple people. No one can really explain it, but it always seems to happen.

11. Editing is hell.

Making a short film can be amazingly fun. Scouting out locations, casting actors, and shooting the project. And then there’s postproduction. It sneaks up on you like that final lap of a PE class’s mile run. The finish line is in sight, and then… there’s still another lap? You’re not even close to being done! You lock yourself in a dark, soundproof room and contemplate minute details that will either make or break your project. Should I cut there? Or two frames later? Watch, rewatch, watch, rewatch, watch, rewatch, shoot your brains out. Finally, after what seems like a lifetime, you emerge from your tomb, hungry and exhausted, only to remember that you still have to do sound editing, visual effects, and then re-edit the entire thing… Lord, give me strength. I think this is how I die.

12. Working with real film for the first time is terrifying.

It’s the Holy Grail of film school, because hellooooo film school. You’ve dreamed of this day since you were a wee little one, and the day has finally arri—wait. One roll costs how much? Agh and I just have to hope the footage looks good until I can see it after it’s developed? What happens if the roll runs out in the middle of the take? So much panic, but the results are completely worth it.

13. “What’s your favorite film?” is the bane of your existence.

Literally no film majors like this question, but everyone and their mother likes to ask it. You wrack your brain and try to choose between the twenty films nearest and dearest to you until you just blurt one out to get it over with. “Uhhhh… probably Space Jam.” Instant regret follows.

14. Going to the movies is forever changed.

Sure, you had exactly zero input on the movie you’re about to see, but hey—ONE DAY. I suspect it’s kind of like how biology majors feel when they walk into a hospital. Completely overwhelmed, but massively excited to get in on the action.

15. You will meet the greatest, weirdest bunch of friends.

You’ve finally found that group of people that will geek out with you for hours on end about the latest Wes Anderson film and other topics that most people will find massively boring, like the differences between film and digital capture, favorite cinematographers, and the crime that is cheaply converting 2D films to 3D in post. TC mark

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