Do you have a passion for cinema and a desire to study it in college, yet find yourself wondering, “What can I do with a film degree?” There are actually multiple creative career opportunities for people with film degrees. People who work in cinema come from all kinds of backgrounds, including graphic design. So, you need not be afraid to branch out a bit. For example, you might decide to pursue a film major, with graphic design as a minor. This combination could broaden your options after graduation.
In This Article:
- Film Degree Jobs: What Jobs Can You Get With a Film Degree?
- Film Degree Options for the Entertainment Industry
Film Degree Jobs: What Jobs Can You Get With a Film Degree?
Curious about what to do with a film degree? You have many options to consider — from the top-level job of director to the highly creative roles of the set and prop designers. Below, you can explore some of the many answers to the question: What jobs can you get with a film degree?
Bear in mind that many of these film major jobs are not entry-level positions. In the entertainment industry in particular, it’s quite common for future producers, directors and set designers to start out as assistants. You may spend several years working your way up the ladder. Along the way, look for opportunities to put your film degree to good use by volunteering for extra responsibilities to gain valuable hands-on experience.
Directors hold an important place in the filmmaking industry. They are responsible for everything that occurs on set. As the main decision-maker, the director must possess a unique blend of technical expertise, industry know-how, creativity and interpersonal skills.
A director is responsible for bringing together a diverse range of elements to create a cohesive artistic vision. For example, the director makes decisions about the following:
- The look of each character
- Which actor will play each character
- How lighting will be used
- What props will be used
- How each scene unfolds
- How the screenplay is interpreted
Being a film director can be stressful but also incredibly rewarding. An effective director can bring out the actors’ best performances and create a masterpiece.
The job of the producer is one of the most misunderstood in the film industry. Yet, this job title has a relatively simple definition. Producers are responsible for all the off-set details of turning a script into a movie.
Their job involves everything from identifying promising scripts and purchasing the rights to them to marketing the movie’s launch. Other common tasks of producers include the following:
- Securing funding for the film by liaising with investors and studios
- Establishing film budgets and keeping the entire project within the overall budget
- Setting the production schedule
- Hiring and managing personnel, including the director, talent and crew
- Supervising post-production, including movie editing and music composition
Producers rarely begin their careers as producers. Like many people in Hollywood, they tend to start out as interns or assistants. Some producers get their start as interns or assistants or have worked as line producers and assistant directors of cinematography before transitioning to producing.
3. Set Designer
On a movie shoot, the set refers to the physical surroundings. Some scenes might be shot on location. For example, a movie about a mountaineer might be shot on or near a mountain. Other scenes are shot on completely fabricated sets, such as partially built rooms. It is the job of the set designer to take an idea for a set and turn it into realistic-looking surroundings for the film. The set, or environment, establishes the tone for the scene.
Set designers must be effective problem-solvers as well as creative artists. They must work within the vision of the director and producer while staying within the budget. Furthermore, set designers may need to do extensive research to ensure consistency. For example, a film set in the 1960s may require the set designer to research furnishings and décor from that era to create a realistic-looking set.
4. Prop Designer
The prop designer on a movie shoot is responsible for creating the props used in each scene. Like the set, the props for a film help the story come to life.
The props can sometimes become as famous as the film and its actors. Think of the ruby slippers in “The Wizard of Oz” or the volleyball in “Cast Away.” Every prop used in every scene must be aligned with the historical era the story is set in and the film’s production design.
In addition to being true to the film’s setting, the props must be aesthetically pleasing. This is why a background in graphic design can be an asset to a prop designer.
In a graphic design program, you will learn about the fundamentals of color theory, lines and shapes, and you may gain a strong sense of what will or will not work for a particular production. In addition, prop designers must have a good eye for detail and excellent skills in solving problems relevant to the film industry.
5. Film Editor
When considering what to do with a film degree, you don’t have to limit yourself to roles that involve preparing for and shooting the movie. If you have a creative eye and technical skills, you might consider working on the movie after it’s been filmed. Film production degree jobs include the role of the film editor.
The way in which the raw footage of a film is ordered and assembled plays a significant role in the overall pace, mood and storytelling. The film editor is responsible for collaborating with the director and producers in order to develop a strong understanding of the artistic vision for the movie. Then, the film editor uses sophisticated editing software to cut, splice and rearrange the raw footage.
Traditionally, a film editor’s job begins when shooting ends and the movie enters the post-production phase. However, in some cases, a film editor may begin working with the raw footage even as the shooting continues. Sometimes, film editors may set up a temporary office close to the location so that they can begin working with the raw footage almost as soon as it’s created.
Film Degree Options for the Entertainment Industry
Now that you have a better idea of some of the available film degree jobs, it’s time to think about your career pathway. Individuals in the film industry come from a wide background of fields and experience. Film degrees are tailored to help students learn the skills needed to be successful in various areas of expertise.
Students can also chose to pursue a degree based on their specific interests within the film industry. For instance, if you are interested in working in the written aspects of film, you may consider a film degree with an emphasis in screenwriting. This degree gives a look into the world of writers and editors for film.
Digital Film Production Degrees
A digital film degree with an emphasis in production is another option to consider. Students are set on a path that helps them learn what they need to know in order to be successful producers, directors, editors and cinematographers. There are also many other paths that this degree explores.
Graphic Design Degrees
If you are interested in the design behind the film industry, an advertising and graphic design degree can start you off on the right track. In this program, students take classes such as digital photography, design fundamentals and production methods. This degree also has many applications outside of the film industry.
Your path to a rewarding future begins at Grand Canyon University (GCU), where you can choose from an array of performing arts and digital arts degree programs. Enroll in the Bachelor of Arts in Digital Film with an Emphasis in Production program, for example, or earn a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Film with an Emphasis in Screenwriting. GCU also offers a graphic design degree. Fill out the form on this page to begin working toward your future in the entertainment industry.
Approved by the program chair of digital film for the College of Arts and Media on March 15, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.