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Film program rebrands as New American Film School

Now as its own entity, the film school is looking toward more tailored classes and a potential new bachelor's degree of fine arts in film

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A vintage film camera pictured in the Cronkite journalism history museum on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020 in Phoenix.

In an effort to encourage change and operate more autonomously, ASU’s film program, formerly a part of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre, has separated itself and become the New American Film School

The new name, which first took effect this semester, aligns the film school with the New American University, ASU's "reconceptualization of 21st century higher education," which is largely based on the University's mission and charter.

“In recognition of how far we’ve gotten, it was determined by Herberger (Institute for Design and the Arts) and Dr. (Michael) Crow that we should become our own entity,” said New American Film School clinical assistant professor Chris LaMont. “So there’s a great deal of faculty that are very happy about this.”

Coupled with this change is the potential addition of a bachelor's degree of fine arts in film as opposed to the current Bachelor of Arts that exists, providing a more film-centered program.

"This allows for us to tailor courses more so to certain areas and allow students to grow,” LaMont said.

LaMont said the mission of the New American Film School is to continue to be and become more inclusive and to allow students to customize their experiences and tell the stories they want to tell.

"We are a program that's not dictated in enrollment, by large amounts of tuition," LaMont said. "So, it really is about the students who are passionate enough to come here and study film."

LaMont said every student comes with individual stories and goals in mind. The film program, old or new, strives to provide its over 600 students with the tools to tell them.

New American Film School faculty associate Nita Blum said with the current state of the world, it seems to be the perfect time for a change. 

"You find ways to adapt under the current circumstances and with that comes a lot of change," Blum said. "It'll be interesting as this continues to unfold."

Noriko Matsushita, a senior studying film, said she heard about the potential for the film program to expand during her sophomore year.

"During my own time here, I've noticed a lot of personal and professional growth in myself," Matsushita said. "So, I think introducing a BFA will encourage a lot of collaboration and technical application, which is what it should be about."

Matsushita is on the producing track and credits the current program to all that she has learned.

"There are always new opportunities, so it's no surprise that we're growing," Matsushita said. "I'm hopeful that the new BFA will allow students to direct their focus early on."

With the separation and a new program on the horizon, the decision-making on upcoming courses has been entirely up to the New American Film School and its faculty, making the choices for students much more expansive.

"It's nice to have the autonomy through Herberger," LaMont says. "It gives us the ability to make our own decisions and focus primarily on student success in our individual program."

While it is unclear as of now what new courses and avenues the BFA will consist of, current students are hopeful and excited for what is to come.

"I'm a senior, so I'm really happy that other students will get to experience the growth of the film school," Matsushita said. "Hopefully it will open up a whole new host of creative resources."

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