All About the Film School @ NNU

"Quiet please, picture up!"

You'll hear those words a lot at The Film School @ NNU.  It's what the First Assistant Director shouts when we're getting ready to roll cameras on a scene.  And we do a lot of that!

Here, on this page, we're also getting ready -- getting you ready to make a choice of school and major. Is that NNU?  Is it Film School?  You and God will have to make that decision.  But here, and on the FAQ page, we'll give you as much information as we can to help you make that choice. If it turns out you choose to join our family of filmmakers, then one day soon it will be you shouting "Quiet please, picture up!"
 

Academics


Academics at the Film School @ NNU are designed to prepare you for every aspect of the film and television industries. In addition to exciting and engaging classes and coursework, you'll earn Crew Points and screen credit, with your experience here culminating in a senior project.

Coursework

The Film School curriculum has been designed to provide students with an excellent mix of production skills, communication skills, theory, law and writing. In other words, we don't want our students to leave the program knowing only how to use equipment, we want them to leave with a solid understanding of good storytelling. Since stories are always ultimately about people and their relationships, you'll find classes aimed at those topics in our curriculum as well.

From The Catalog:

A major in Mass Communication ("Film School") gives students an understanding of the systems, theories, and practices of the mass communication channels of film and television, as well as their impact on contemporary society. It prepares students to obtain employment in secular or Christian film, video, and television production. Students can use their education and training for entry-level employment with big studios, for independent production through their own company, or for pursuing graduate study in communication and other fields. (50 credits)

Requirements: (as of Fall 2015) (50 credits)

COMM1010. Introduction to Communication (3)
COMM1260. Introduction to Video (1)
COMM2020. Media Systems and Literacy (3)
COMM2050. History of Film and Television (3)
COMM2120  Communication Activities (Film Crafts) (1)
COMM2250. Introduction to Scriptwriting (3)
COMM2260. Intermediate Video Production (3)
COMM2280. Audio For Film and Television (3)
COMM3010. Producing Film and Television (3)
COMM3030. Film Theory and Criticism (3)
COMM3050. Nonverbal Communication (3)
COMM3250. Advanced Screenwriting (3)
COMM3260. Advanced Television Production (3)
COMM3280. Media Law and Ethics (3)
COMM3290. Intermediate Post-Production (3)
COMM4250. Cinematography (3)
COMM4260. Film and Television Directing (3)
COMM4970. Senior Project (1) (2 required)
COMM4980. Seminar in Communication Studies (1)
 

General Education Requirements

 

Crew Points

An important part of The Film School @ NNU is hands-on, professional experience. Each student is required to earn a minimum of 150 "Crew Points" during their time at NNU (pro-rated for transfer students).

You earn Crew Points in several ways, but mostly by working on film crews for departmental shoots, the projects of other students, or the many off-campus professional productions that students are invited to by our contacts in the industry. For instance, in 2013, students pitched the idea of shooting a scene from a submarine movie as our last department project for the year. We then spent over 500 hours building a realistic submarine control room in our studio and another 50 hours shooting those scenes. Students earned a Crew Point for every hour they worked.

Crew Points are also given for special educational opportunities which are not part of any class. This might include a trip to the Sundance Film Festival, going to a particular film in Boise, attending a weekend seminar, etc.

Students who earn more than the required 150 points are eligible for special achievement awards: the Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum Slate awards. These come with both a trophy and a letter from the Department Chair for inclusion with your resume.

Crew Points are also used in determining who gets tagged for special opportunities, in awarding Teaching Assistant scholarships, and for other special considerations. In other words, those who have the most points get the best opportunities.

Why did we institute Crew Points? Several reasons:

  • To maximize your on-the-job experience while attending NNU
  • To reward you for the time you spend helping other students and the department
  • To keep you "plugged in" to the program
  • To help you experience the collaboration so vital to our industry
  • To help you develop a work ethic attractive to future employers
  • To give you opportunities beyond the limits of formal class sessions
  • Still in High School? You can begin earning Crew Points now! Click here to find out how.

Screen Credit

College credits are great and essential to your career, but the currency of the movie and television industries is screen credit: your name appearing in the credits as having performed significant jobs on films or TV shows.

Whenever a producer is looking for people to hire, he or she checks out the screen credits of prospective employees. It lets them know if the person has actually done a particular job - if they've proven themselves - or if they're just a "wanna be." But how do you get real screen credits as a student?

At The Film School @ NNU, it's automatic.

Whether it's for television, working on a broadcast program, or on production of a feature or short film, we provide students with opportunities to earn real screen credits.

When we say that students produce a TV show, we don't mean they just pull cables and carry equipment: they really produce the show, making all the decisions about performers, locations, timing, accompaniment, lighting packages, etc. They even have to go out and secure the financing, negotiate contracts, work with broadcasters, and so on. They produce the show!

They also direct it. And operate the cameras. And manage the stage. And on and on.

When we do a departmental film shoot, or even a senior film, the students work as camera operators, Director of Photography, Production Designer, dolly grips, gaffers, key grips, best boys, etc.

But it doesn't stop there. With our contacts in the industry, we're constantly placing students on television and film crews throughout the Northwest. In 2014/15 alone, that's meant working with Hollywood crews on national shows, lots of local production, and even a five-day trip to New York and Chicago working on film crews for three of our students. In the past such opportunities have taken them to Singapore, the Winter Olympics, and Costa Rica.

These jobs not only give real-world experience, but pay real money as well (beyond just travel, lodging and meals).

College credits are great and essential in today's market, but when you leave The Film School @ NNU, you'll have much more than that. You'll have screen credits. It's the cash of Hollywood.

Senior Project

Every student in the Film School completes a major project during their senior year at NNU, such as a short film, television program, documentary, marketing video or feature film screenplay.

The road to this project begins your very first semester at NNU. Our goal is to design your schedule such that you'll finish all production classes, and most media classes in general, by the end of your junior year.

During that junior year, you will propose a plan for a project you'd like to complete. Once your plan is approved, a committee of three faculty members and experts in the field will be assigned to guide you through your project.

You then spend the fall of your senior year in prep work, either doing pre-production planning on a film or video, or research for a screenplay. You'll also complete research on the "theoretical construct" of your project - what does it demonstrate, or how does it advance our understanding of communication?

Spring semester is reserved for execution of your project, either filming and editing a visual project or writing the screenplay. At the end of the semester, you present your project and theory work to your committee.

Why did we institute the Senior Project program? Several reasons:

  • It allows you to do what you are passionate about doing while you still have free access to the equipment and facilities of the school, as well as willing help (and free labor) from a crew of other Film School students
  • It synthesizes the practical and the academic, the "how to" of production with the "why" of theory
  • It's a chance for you to practice and demonstrate what you've learned during your time at NNU
  • It gives you a professional media product to show potential employers, financial backers, and others who will have an impact on your career
  • It forces you to think and work through an entire production from beginning to end, giving you invaluable experience for future projects
  • You can leave film school knowing you know what you know

Department Projects


Each semester, the Film School produces one to four department projects -- four little ones or one huge one -- with students taking on the brunt of the work: designing sets, lighting, producing, etc. The concepts for these are student-generated, and we love exploring areas of production that we've never tried before, from dramas to sitcoms to variety shows.

Take a look at some of the finished products on our "Featured Projects" page!

TAs


The faculty of the department are assisted by several Teaching Assistants who help with everything from proctoring exams to selling sodas from The Cage. They're also vital in helping the faculty plan, organize and oversee the many functions of the department. TAs are able to help you with most of your questions, and will make sure you have what you need for your own production work.

Becoming a TA

TAs are chosen for their academic record, devotion to the department (as demonstrated through Crew Points) and their general aptitude in various areas of filmmaking. TAs receive a large scholarship, work directly with the faculty and are given privileges and responsibilities greater than those of other students. Applications are taken during the fall semester.