Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do you have separate majors or tracks for Film & Video Production and Film Studies?

A. There are no separate tracks for Film & Video Production, Film Studies, or Screenwriting. The Cinema BA at the University of Iowa is a well-rounded degree that encompasses critical reading, viewing, and writing about media, the history and theory of film, and the development of technical and aesthetic proficiencies in film & video production. Majors become well-informed in all of these areas through required coursework while also choosing Cinema electives from film studies, production, and screenwriting to shape unique programs of study that correspond with their interests.

Q. Do I have to be a Cinema major to take a Production class offered in Cinematic Arts?

A. No. Our Production courses are open to all; however, all students—even those with Production course experience from other institutions – are required to begin with our introductory course CINE:1834, Modes of Film & Video Production. This intensive, 4-credit-hour course meets 6 hours a week (one lecture, twice-weekly sections), and requires several additional hours per week of work outside of class. Modes is the pre-requisite for all other Production classes. Modes is also the only required Production course for Cinema majors and is offered every semester and usually over the summer as well.

Q. I’ve declared my Cinema major before the first day of college—should I take Modes of Film & Video Production the first semester of my Freshman year?

A. We recommend enrolling in CINE:1834, Modes of Film and Video Production, either your first or second semester. At the latest, students should be sure to complete Modes by the end of their sophomore year. Modes is the prerequisite for all Production and Screenwriting classes, so students wishing to take those courses as soon as possible should enroll in Modes as soon as possible. Because it is a time consuming course, however, many students may not fit it into their first semester of study. 

Q. What courses can I take after Modes of Film and Video Production? Is there a recommended sequence for intermediate and advanced Production classes?

A. After Modes, Non-fiction Video, Fiction Video, Material of 16mm Film, and Alternative Forms are offered on a regular basis. Students may take intermediate courses in any order, but some serve as pre-requisites for advanced Production courses while others do not— the prerequisite for advanced courses are listed on their descriptions on MyUI and in the catalog.

Q. What determines whether or not I will get into an intermediate Production Course?

A. A grade of C or better in the prerequisite, Modes, and total number of credit hours completed.

Q. If I have satisfied the prerequisites, can I take more than one Production course at a time?

A. No. In order to ensure the quality of each student’s experience in these time-intensive workshops, students may enroll in only one Production course each semester. These courses provide personal, hands-on experience with only 12-15 students in each class and all necessary equipment provided by the University.

Q. Do I need to bring any of my own equipment, such as a video camera? What editing software do you recommend?

A. The Production Unit provides cameras and all other necessary equipment for Production classes, including digital video editing stations. All of our computers in Production courses are Apple Macs. Students do not need their own editing systems. See our Production Facilities page for more information.

Q. What Screenwriting courses do you offer? How can these classes count toward the Cinema Major? Are Screenwriting classes open to non-majors?

A. We regularly offer two screenwriting courses, one on long-form and one on short-form, and occasionally offer two additional advanced courses. All screenwriting courses can count toward the required 20 s.h. of Cinema electives for Cinema majors. Non-majors are welcome to enroll in our Screenwriting classes as long as they have completed the two required Cinema prerequisites. Many non-majors interested in Screenwriting find that they complete the Cinema minor as they pursue the classes that interest them.

Q. What opportunities will I have to meet visiting filmmakers and other industry professionals?

A. Recent visitors have included feature filmmaker Terry Zwigoff (Ghost World, Crumb) and documentarian Sarah Price (American Movie, Yes Men). Our Headroom Screening Series also brings a number of experimental film artists to campus each year, most recently Deborah Stratman, Vanessa Renwick, Mary Helena Clark, Julie Perini, John Gianvito, and Kevin B. Lee. Visitors are usually on campus to screen and present work, conduct workshops and meet with students for between three and six days; however, some visitors teach Production courses for an entire semester.

Q. Do you have an internship program?

A. Due to the range of interests among Cinema majors and the diverse and fluid array of jobs related to Cinema, the department does not require or set up specific internships. We encourage students to look for internship opportunities, inform them of relevant internships as we become aware of them, and facilitates interactions between students and alumni. Students who secure an internship may arrange for it to count as elective credit in the Cinema major. Internships for credit must be approved by a supervising faculty member, the Cinema advisor, and the Director of Undergraduate Study before the semester in which they take place. More information and the approval form can be found on our Internship page. Internships may also be arranged for zero credit hours through the Pomerantz Career Center for students who do not wish to incur the cost of a class but who wish to have the internship noted on their transcript. 

Q. How do I enroll in an Independent Study course?

A. Independent Studies are arranged on an individual, case-by-case basis for advanced Cinema majors and are supervised by Cinema faculty. In order to complete an Independent Study in Production, such as an independent film or video project, the student must have completed the most advanced coursework in his/her proposed area, that is: for an Independent Study film project, the student must have completed Advanced 16mm Film production, for an Independent Study video, the student must have completed Advanced Video. Students wishing to enroll in an Independent Study should complete the required Independent Study form. Independent studies must be approved in advance of the semester in which they take place—i.e., an Independent Study that takes place over the spring semester must be approved by the supervising faculty member before the last day of classes of the previous fall semester.

Q. Is it possible to complete an honors thesis project in Production?

A. Yes, Cinema majors with honors status may elect to work on an honors thesis film or video in their senior year. Honors thesis projects in Production are generally year-long projects that generate three credit hours per semester. Honors students wishing to complete a thesis film or video should identify an honors committee of two faculty members in Cinematic Arts and submit a proposal no later than mid-April of their junior year. If approved, the student works independently in the fall semester, meeting with supervising faculty from the honors committee as needed. In the spring semester, the student attends (they register for honors credit) Advanced Production Workshop to have the benefit of both faculty and peer feedback. Before being awarded credit, the student must submit a written Honors Thesis (12-20 pages) that supports the honors film or video and meet with his/her committee for a thesis screening and defense.

Q. How will a degree in Cinema prepare me for breaking into the film industry in New York or L.A. ? What kinds of jobs do your graduates obtain after college?

A. Because the film and television industries include a wide array of jobs, the Cinema degree is not a direct track to any one kind of career. Graduates have found work on sets in Hollywood and New York, as location managers, editors, camera assistants, writers, producer’s assistants, location managers, and casting agents, among other jobs. Our grads have also found work in San Francisco, Chicago, Milwaukee, Seattle and countless other cities, with jobs in distribution, programming, documentary research, and education, to name but a few examples. You can learn about what some of our alumni are doing and their advice for pursing a cinema-related career in this Iowa Now article about the Department of Cinematic Arts’ Spring 2016 career event.