Heaven Milton, a student in professor Marcus Mallard’s basic editing class, is completing her next film project. (Photo by Michael Palacios)
By Katrina Crumbacher
Editor in Chief
Rose State College recently introduced a new two-track film production degree program to support the growing film industry in Oklahoma.
Graduates of the new film studies and digital media program will receive an Associate in Applied Science in either film studies or digital media. The program’s advisory board is made up of some of the top names in Oklahoma film, such as Matt Payne with Prairie Surf Media, Amy Janes with Green Pastures Studio and Sara Thompson with deadCenter Film.
Marcus Mallard, film studies and digital media program coordinator, has worked on various short film sets and has a master’s in English with an emphasis in film studies from the University of Central Oklahoma.
Ideally, graduates of the program should be able to step right into a film production ready to work, Mallard said.
“The industry is booming here in Oklahoma,” he said. “We are trying to teach those practical applications that are going to get them the jobs inside the film industry as well as the nuances to show off their own filmmaking prowess.”
Mallard said he has reached out to a local technical rental company that brings high-end equipment to incoming film productions to help familiarize the students with some of the more in-depth equipment they might run across on a film set.
“It’s going to create a lot of opportunities for these students that I never had when I was 20 years old, fresh out of college,” he said. “It’s a different atmosphere, and talking to these other industry professionals, it is kind of electric right now.”
Several students have already enrolled in the degree program since it was introduced in December. For the spring semester, the film program is currently offering classes in directing and media aesthetics, basic editing and screenwriting.
“The courses in this program are focusing on really developing that voice of the creator,” he said. “If they want to do the industry side, that’s fine, but the other aspect of this is we’re trying to teach the students how to be content creators.”
Rose State is not the only learning institution in Oklahoma offering film production courses and degree programs. The First Capital Film Crew Institute at Meridian Technology Center in Guthrie opened in March 2022, and Oklahoma City Community College’s film program has already been named one of MovieMaker Magazine’s 40 Best Film Schools of 2022 in the United States and Canada.
“It’s important that people learn filmmaking, not just from a director’s chair but learn filmmaking with their hands, and they actually learn how to physically make a film,” said Austin Taylor, executive director of the Film Education Institute of Oklahoma. “I think these classes are vital for the industry. Full stop. If you don’t have classes for people to be trained, then you don’t have an industry.”
In pursuit of that goal, the FEIO recently introduced Scissortail Studios, an Oklahoma City Public Schools film program designed to introduce high school students to the film industry. Northwest Classen High School and Frederick Douglass High School were the first to take part in the pilot program, and OKCPS hopes to roll out the program district-wide by August 2023.
“The whole program is a success,” Taylor said. “We’re not cutting any corners. We’re doing it right for the kids. We’re getting all the right partnerships and alignments, so it’s not some Joe Schmoe, halfway-put-together film program. By the time we’re done, this is going to be a film program that rivals any film program of any level.”
The film industry in Oklahoma is growing rapidly, and budding film programs are now more common than ever.
“If you’re going to take these classes, make sure they are credible, and they are teaching you what you need to learn to be successful in this industry,” Taylor said. “Seek out these classes, take these classes, get the education that you need, get the training that you need, but self-advocate and do your homework before you hand over money to somebody to make sure that you are, in fact, going to get the training that you want.”
More information on credible film programs throughout the state can be found at the Oklahoma Film and Music Office’s website.
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