Undgraduate Chair: S. MacKenzie
The Department of Film and Media at Queen's University offers a comprehensive undergraduate program of practical, historical and critical courses. Many of the courses concentrate on today's systems of mass communication, information and entertainment, but they approach cinema and television, fiction and documentaries, advertising and experimental film, in the historical context that makes them possible. These historical and critical studies are combined with production courses in film, video and multimedia, on the premise that graduates should be versed in both the contexts and techniques of the art.
Without its visual media, the modern world would be unimaginable. In Film Studies, we approach many varied types of visual medias as means for understanding and participating fully in that world. The concentration includes historical inquires into the forces that have shaped the cinema and media; critical analysis of films and television and video productions; theories that explore the principles and functions of film; and the methods of making film and video. In most Film Studies courses, a film or video is used like a textbook in any other course, or like a specimen in a biology lab. First we have a look at it from the outside. We start examining how it's put together. Then we try to determine why it is the way it is.
Taught by four profs, assisted by a battery of student assistants who lead small-group discussions, Film Studies introductory course Film, Culture and Communications introduces students to a stimulating range of topics and approaches to film and contemporary culture from around the world. In addition to Film concentrations, Stage and Screen Studies, a collaborative program with the Department of Drama, offers students the opportunity to combine courses in film and theatre, and to explore their interaction.
The Department of Film Studies welcomes well-rounded high school graduates and does not require you to be media experts before you register. You have the opportunity to take courses in film and video production and in historical, critical and theoretical ways of understanding the many roles of the moving image in the world we inhabit.
Specialization in Stage and Screen
A specialization that incorporates an even count of courses between Film and Media and Drama, along with a introduction to either Art or Music with room for elective courses.
Specialization in Computing and the Creative Arts (COCA)
This specialization consists of the majority of the courses in Computing and a SubPlan such as Art, Drama, Music or Film and Media with room for elective courses.
Major in Film and Media
A major is an intensive course of study in one discipline, with approximately half of your courses within the discipline with room for an optional minor in any other Arts and Science discipline.
Medial in Film and Media
A dual course of study in Film and Media and any other Arts discipline.
Minor in Film and Media
A minor is a less intensive course of study in the discipline that must be combined with a major in another discipline.
General in Film and Media
A less intense course of study leading to a 3-year degree.
FILM 110/6.0 is the first year course that introduces you to the study of Film and Media. Students at the Bader International Study Centre instead register in the pair FILM 104/3.0(Film Form and Modern Culture to 1970) and FILM 106/3.0 (Film Form and Modern Culture from 1970), which together are equivalent for all academic purposes. Any student interested in pursuing a Plan in Film and Media or Stage and Screen should register in this course. This course is a good elective for any Arts student.
Because of student demand for a limited number of spaces, a grade of B- in 100-level FILM courses may not be sufficient to merit entry into FILM 206/3.0, FILM 216/3.0, FILM 226/3.0, FILM 236/3.0 or FILM 250/6.0, hence into a concentration in FILM or STSC or COCA. Priority for admission to upper-year courses is determined by overall average in Film and Media courses including grades in prerequisite courses, and following Academic Regulation 4, Enrolment Priorities, in the Calendar.
Many of our Film and Media alumni go into the film and television industries, and have won Oscars, Emmies and Genies. Film and Media courses, however, cover a wide range of educational areas and skills, and are designed to encourage students in the critical thinking that is important for graduate studies or for leadership in any profession.
Some of our alumni work in:
FILM 110/6.0 Film, Culture and Communication
This first year course introduces you to the study of Film and Media. Students at the Bader International Study Centre instead register in the pair FILM 104/3.0(Film Form and Modern Culture to 1970) and FILM 106/3.0 (Film Form and Modern Culture from 1970), which together are equivalent for all academic purposes. Any student interested in pursuing a Plan in Film and Media or Stage and Screen should register in this course. This course is a good elective for any Arts student.
FILM 260/3.0 Digital Media Theory
Do you enjoy thinking deeply about social and mobile media and culture? If so, whether you’re a current Queen’s student, enrolled at another institution, or continuing your education post-grad, consider FILM 260.
FILM 340/3.0 Advertising and Consumer Culture
Course reviews print, online, outdoor, and television advertising strategies to understand the construction of consumer culture and citizenship. Critically examines the historical evolution of integrated marketing and communications and public relations in North America. Students participate online in a weekly live webinar lecture or opt to watch the recording later on-demand. Assignments include online quizzes, moodle discussion forum participation, a short reflective writing assignment, and some creative design work.
FILM 240/3.0 Media and Popular Culture
This course surveys a variety of popular media forms and genres (film, TV, radio, music, novels, magazines, advertising, news, Internet). Introduces contemporary cultural studies analysis concerning the impact of everyday media use on the formation of identities, perceptions, lifestyles and communities.
Michael MacMillan. Photo: Markian Lozowchuk, Canadian Business
Creativity and hustle keys to success: Queen’s film grad
By Alec Ross
The film industry has a reputation for being hard to break into, but if you’ve got creativity and hustle, your chances of a job there are better than ever. So says Michael MacMillan, a Queen’s graduate who is one of Canada’s most successful film and television producers.
The reason, says MacMillan, ArtsSci ’78, is that the Internet and affordable video technology enable practically anyone to make a video, movie or video blog and distribute it to a potential an audience of millions. When MacMillan started out, only those with deep pockets could do that.
Today, says MacMillan, “the barrier to entry is no longer capital. It’s creativity.”
Still, when millions of videos are vying for attention on websites like YouTube and Vimeo, creativity by itself may not be enough. That’s when entrepreneurial smarts – something that MacMillan cultivated early on – come into play.
In 1976, when he was a second-year Film Studies student at Queen’s, MacMillan made a 20-minute documentary called The Academic Cloister. Its subversive message was that rather than encouraging critical thinking, Canadian universities simply reinforced the societal status quo through rote learning and intellectual conformity. Queen’s, to the dismay of its administrators, played a starring role. The film was a sensation on campus.
The audacious project illustrates the kind of passion and lateral thinking it takes to get a film made. MacMillan raised $3,000 in his spare time, partly by organizing three student screenings of the Peter Sellers classic, The Pink Panther. After the second showing of the 90-minute film, MacMillan turned back the auditorium clock to give himself time to fit in a third showing. The trick worked. The screenings raked in $800, the biggest single chunk of the film’s budget.
By fourth year, MacMillan was making films with several Queen’s friends. But he set his future course with fellow film students Janice Platt and Seaton McLean when the trio founded Atlantis Films, a student film production company. Initially, they wrote, produced, directed, shot, and edited their films themselves, but they quickly realized that elevating their craft would require professional cinematographers, directors, editors and many others. The students’ role would be to raise money and buzz and bring the right people together.
In a few short years, Atlantis evolved into one of Canada’s most successful film and TV production companies. It won an Oscar in 1984 for a short film called Boys and Girls and snagged an Emmy in 1992 for Lost in the Barrens, a TV drama based Farley Mowat’s young adult novel of the same name. It launched the Life Network in 1993, and five years later purchased another film company, Alliance, to form Alliance Atlantis, which went on to own and manage 13 television networks including Food Network, HGTV and Showcase. These have contributed to an overall output of Canadian TV and film that MacMillan describes as “astonishingly large.”
MacMillan retired from the business after CanWest Global Communications and Goldman Sachs acquired Alliance Atlantis in 2007. Two years later, with fellow Queen’s grad Alison Loat, Artsci ’99, he co-founded Samara, a charity that aims to increase political participation in Canada. (MacMillan and Loat recently co-wrote Tragedy in the Commons, a book that draws on exit interviews with 80 former members of Parliament to suggest how Canadian democracy can be improved.)
But MacMillan can’t resist the entertainment game. He now heads Blue Ant Media, a private media company that owns brands including Cottage Life, Outdoor Canada, Travel + Escape, and a number of other web, mobile, TV, magazine properties. The firm is based in Toronto, but its reach is global.
After almost 40 years in the Canadian film and TV industry, MacMillan has some definite ideas about what it takes to succeed there. Creativity and talent head the list, along with the willingness to put in hard work and long hours to help your project succeed.
But even these may not be enough. “There’s a tsunami of creativity and creative expression available,” says MacMillan. “Today, the key things that will distinguish [an artist] are creativity, imagination and talent on one hand, and marketing skills – or power or clout or imagination – to draw attention to your film or documentary or whatever it is, as opposed to the gazillion other ones.”
Since film is a collective endeavour, MacMillan encourages people to imagine how their individual talents, or role, might fit in with those of others. Keeping abreast of technological change and the potential applications of new technology is also smart.
Finally, says MacMillan, the Internet and global trade has forced his industry, and those working in it, to adopt an international focus and attitude.
“If you believe the Internet is here to stay, then you’ll think that the geographical boundaries between one country and another – not political boundaries, but how rights are created and bought and sold and what a natural market is – are going to blur.”
“If I were 22 years old,” says MacMillan, “I’d say, ‘Wow! That is a huge sandbox to play in!’”
The Film Society is the Department Student Council for Queen's Film and Media. Made up of passionate film students from all years, they work to bring you amazing events throughout the year.