Communication, The Discipline

Communication is a discipline that deals with the different processes of human communication. This discipline is a part of my major because of how films are a form of communication from directors and writers to an audience. The discipline also offers a multitude of classes at Plymouth State University relating to my “Cinematic Production” major, mainly about the production of putting this form of media together.

Communication has been around since the beginning of human beings. In the early twentieth century, a man named Charles Horton Cooley contributed literary importance for communication as an important academic discipline. “The mechanism through which human relations exist and develop—all the symbols of the mind, together with the means of conveying them through space and preserving them in time,” is how Cooley defined communication. I find that this greatly applies to cinema as a form of communication as it uses the relationships of humans to convey symbols to  an audience and is preserved in time. Whether it’s digitally uploaded or kept in film in some collector’s basement, it’s as much a form of communication as a book is.

CC BY-NC Shanks https://flic.kr/p/Ckunu

The courses I’m taking from the Communication department mainly focus on the production aspect of what goes into putting a film or television show together. The classes Film and Production Techniques, Advanced Digital Video Production, and Advanced Digital Art Production focus on that area. These classes teaches me the basics of the layout of what goes into a film in order to communicate what the crew wants to the audience. Thoroughly planning out a cinematography style or as simple as how a screenwriter phrases sentences is how they communicate subtext through cinema.

The other classes I’m taking from the department, Analyzing Film and Analyzing Television, focus on how the great communicators of media in the past have used this art form to convey their messages through this space. It my version of education majors learning how to teach from their professors, only I’m learning from a professor teaching from the past rather the future of educating children. Which I am thoroughly looking forward to.

I follow the Twitters of Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB and they critically analyze what aspects of a movie and a television show that made it good. The likability of the characters, cinematography, plot line, etc.. The ratings these sites give are overall how well the story was communicated and received by the audience the filmmakers made it for. It’s interesting to be able to see how a recent film either successfully communicated their story, or fell flat and left the audience dissatisfied.

Communication is a vital discipline to the major I am trying to create here at Plymouth State University. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to do half of the stuff I want to do in the film industry. I would probably have just gone for a Business degree or English rather than try to build one of my own that will set me on the path that I can actually see myself walking down. Thanks, communication!

 

Some well known journals of the discipline:

International Journal of Communication

Journal of Communication

New Media and Society

Public Relations Review

Cinematic Production Essay

Cinematic Production

I’m trying to construct the major of “Cinematic Production” with the courses offered here at Plymouth State University. After coming to PSU, I was intrigued by the Literature and Film major offered under the English department. Unfortunately, after meeting with my advisor, the school no longer offered the major. Strangely enough, all of the courses that made up the major are still in the catalog and can be taken in future semesters. I’ve only ever been truly passionate about the pieces that put a movie and other dramatic productions together and how they can be improved upon. The major is built partially with the courses from the old Literature and Film major, some Theatre, and the rest are cinematically related courses offered by the Communications and Media Studies department. No other program offered by PSU sparked my interest for something I wanted to spend the next three years studying. Or influencing my career path for the rest of my working life. The program that I’ve created here is what I think is an improvement on the Literature and Film major with a focus in the production of cinema with the addition of Communication courses.

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Starting with the English courses, the first class that’s a part of the major is The Filmmaker’s Vision: An Introduction to Film Analysis which discusses what filmmakers are trying to make the audience feel with their film, much like painters with their art or poets with poetry. Next on my course list is Introduction to Film, which was an introductory course when Literature and Film was still a major and focuses on appreciating films, short and full-length. After that, there’s The Craft of Screenwriting: Reading and Writing Screenplays, which involves reading and writing screenplays and analyzing the film production of the screenplays read. Literature and Film is another course of analyzing film production, but rather the literature that’s turned into cinema instead of screenplays. And the final and newly added class from the English department, Practicum in Production will be a course that will take place at Pemi Baker Public Access Television for a hands on experience in video and television production.

Another chunk of classes is from the Communication and Media Studies department. Firstly, Introduction to Media and Cultural Studies is the introductory course to the Communication department and is required to be taken so that I understand the basics of the courses offered. It also describes how media has been used from the 20th century to the present. Analyzing Television connects what has influenced television over the past sixty years through history, political science, sociology, and more. It also explores the different ways to analyze television programming from black and white television to today. Analyzing Film explores how history over time has affected film and assesses theories to explain how cinema impacts society. Another analyzing course, it examines the narrative genre and its development over time. Analyzing the techniques that have been used before helps me in using techniques to create the same effect or influence through this form of art. Film and Video Production Techniques is a hands-on course that goes through the pre-production, production, and post production processes of cinema. This is also the predecessor course to two more courses, the first being Advanced Digital Video Production. In this course, I learn more advanced video production techniques and how to use them to tell a story. The second and final course from the department is Advanced Video Art Production. It’s another advanced course in video production that focuses more on the technical aspect that adds to the cinematography.

The last bit of classes fill the WRCO and QRCO requirements while still being relevant to the major, as Theatre is the live and pre-camera version of cinema. American Musical Theatre is from the Theatre department and discusses how american musical theatre has adapted from Europe and how it reflected the ever-changing nation. World Drama discusses how western drama was influenced by the Greeks and the literary versus theatrical forms. Finally, a math class to fulfill the QRCO, Precalculus focuses on trigonometry, algebra, and the use of the unit circle.

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This program is truly interdisciplinary since it’s about 36% English, 43% Communication and Media Studies, 14% Theatre, and 7% Math. It combines the history, production, analysis of cinema and drama which is exactly what I want to be involved in for my future. Whether it’s being a part of the cinematography of a small web series or piecing a film together to be aesthetically pleasing after everything is shot, I want to be a part of the production. And I want to be proud of my contributions.

UPDATE:

I wrote this essay in my second semester here at Plymouth State University. Many things have changed over the course of the past few years, including the title. My major, now dubbed “Media Production,” has endured multiple contract changes due to the altering of the number of credits a course is worth, some courses no longer being offered, and taking some courses that weren’t originally part of my major but were so useful, I asked them to become a part of my contract after I took them.

The most important addition to my contract that I made was the English Internship at the Pemi-Baker TV station through Professor Paul Rogalus, who may be one of the coolest professors I’ve ever had. The internship taught me how to operate equipment, edit footage, and offered me the creative freedom to create. When creating my initial contract, the Practicum in Production (pretty much a pre-internship) was a part of it. I loved the practicum so much I took the English Internship and stayed at the station for another two semesters, in which I was able to do more on my own the longer I worked there.

Through my major, I’ve learned the process of how visual media is made; from conception and screen/scriptwriting to putting the finishing touches when editing a final product, I’ve learned that my favorite parts include creating the environment of which the characters interact and jazzing everything up in post. So basically, the beginning and the end. Pre- and Post- production if you will. It takes so many people in the actual production part of it all, it’s important to have delegated positions and it’s better to use people with experience rather than the first friend that doesn’t have anything to do on a Thursday night. This is key in the world of media production, as creative differences between friends can cause personal attacks, rather than compromises if one isn’t careful.

When I first came to Plymouth State University, I had absolutely no clue what I was going to do here. I had planned on being undeclared for at least two semesters, possibly three, and hoped that I would figure something out in that allotted time. After my first semester, my advisor told me that I had transferred over so many credits from college courses I had taken in high school, I had to declare a major in my second semester. Luckily, I knew of the discarded Literature and Film English division and was introduced to the video production side of the communications department when constructing said major. With a few theatre classes thrown in to create a well rounded Interdisciplinary focus of study, I was prepared to enter my built major with confidence that I was doing the right thing. Over the past few years, anyone I’ve told about Interdisciplinary had told me how great they think it is and how several wished they’d known about it before declaring a major. I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to pursue my awesomely constructed major.