Belmont University announced today the opening of a new undergraduate degree program in motion pictures, the study of cinematography, screenwriting, film production, etc. The curriculum for this interdisciplinary studies program is being developed under the expertise of Will Akers, Belmont’s new assistant professor and chair of the program. Motion Pictures classes will begin in fall 2013.
In addition to having 25 years experience as a screenwriter, Akers’ background includes 19 years of teaching at Vanderbilt University in film studies, theater and communication studies. He is also the author of an industry-standard text, Your Screenplay Sucks!, 100 Ways To Make It Great. A Nashville native, graduate of Vanderbilt, with a master’s degree in cinema production from the University of Southern California, Akers is a fixture in the Nashville film community. He has had three feature films produced from his screenplays and wrote for the network television series “Strange Luck,” “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” and “Eerie, Indiana.”
The new program intends to encompass all areas of the modern motion picture world. “Today motion pictures can be found in all kinds of media including television, cell phones and computers; it’s not simply film-in-a-theater anymore,” Akers said. “Belmont’s new program will capitalize on the growing diversity of motion pictures, teaching students all aspects of the craft from script development, through production, to marketing and distribution. We’ll combine our classroom curriculum with the hands-on experiential learning that is a consistently distinguishing factor of a Belmont education.”
Belmont Provost Thomas Burns added, “This new undergraduate major is a natural extension of Belmont’s strong liberal arts curriculum and our commitment to high-quality professional programs related to the management and development of the entertainment industry. Moreover, motion pictures will prepare students to succeed in a dynamic marketplace that is currently experiencing immense development and growth.”
In addition to motion pictures being a growing industry in general, Tennessee is also prioritizing the entertainment industry as a means to boost the local economy. Tennessee Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty recently noted in a press release, “The vibrant entertainment industry found in Tennessee is unlike any other in the country and can be an important tool for economic development and expansion. We have a solid team in place at the Tennessee Film Entertainment and Music Commission that is working to cultivate an entertainment sector that is both long term and sustainable.”
At Belmont, students will learn how to make motion pictures—including narrative and documentaries—at every level: pre-production, production and post-production. However, the power of story will remain at the heart of the curriculum with rigorous screenwriting courses as a foundation.
Akers said, “Regardless of the medium, being a good storyteller who can captivate an audience is the basis of success in any facet of entertainment. Our classes will focus extensively on the script and the critical importance of editing and rewriting as well as every step in the creative process.”
Belmont’s partnership with Watkins College of Art, Design & Film will be ongoing, and the new Program in Motion Pictures will provide even more opportunities for collaborations that benefit students at both institutions.