Belmont University, known for its music roots, will be adding a motion pictures major program to its catalog this fall.
Film History, Short Film Analysis & Writing and The Media Makers will be the first courses taught all by program chairman Will Akers.
Akers, who received his master’s degree in cinema production from the University of Southern California, taught filmmaking and screenwriting at Vanderbilt University for 19 years.
He is a writer by nature, so this program, because of his experience is going to grow from storytelling, he said.
“Writing is a part of everything everybody is going to do,” said Akers.
The start of this program came by no surprise to junior video production major Nick Lippowitsch.
“Belmont was already at the cutting edge of music, and so the start of this program was the natural next step,” said Lippowitsch.
Belmont will be working with Watkins College of Film in Nashville to teach courses offered in the motion pictures minor program. All major courses will be taught at Belmont.
“We have a great relationship with them, and to have people like the editor of ‘Toy Story’ teaching our students how to edit, is something that is hard to get anywhere else,” said Akers.
By having industry professionals feeding into the program, students get their teaching directly from the source.
“I worked on a short film with some fellow students back in the fall 2012, which is how I met Akers,” said Lippowitsch. “And I learned more about film in just a half hour with him than I have in my entire life.”
Having professionals in the industry come and impart their knowledge is just one of the many perks of the program, and students recognize that.
“I think the program is going to bring in a lot more resources as far as teachers are concerned,” said sophomore multimedia production major Shelby Goldsmith. “It is going to give students a greater opportunity to expand into various areas of media.”
One of the classes being offered in the fall is The Media Makers.
For this class, Akers plans on bringing in industry professionals every week to teach on a variety of film-related subjects.
Whether it be editing or location sound, these professionals will bring in their work, explain how it got done, and allow students to have face-to-face time with them to get real-world, experience-based teaching.
“The purpose of this class, and the program as a whole, really, is to get the students to learn something that they are interested in taking up as possible career,” Akers said.
Another perk to being enrolled in this program is having professional actors audition to be in the students’ productions.
When the students start having casting calls for their films, the program will fund the actor and actresses’ pay.
“They will have better actors and actresses auditioning because of pay, and that in turn means the films will be better,” said Akers. “Belmont may be one of the only schools that does that.”
But to whom much is given, much is required.
“Students are going to have work really hard and learn how to make a deadline,” said Akers. “Work ethic is what will get them to succeed by planning advance, and being able to work with others.”
The program’s emphasis on work ethic, as it relates to film, teams up well with the eagerness of the students to explore their creativity.
“Film is the telling of the story, but it also brings together the elements of photography and music,” said Goldsmith. “And when it all comes together, it’s like magic.”