New Mexico’s film industry is booming, and one of our largest universities is making some changes to keep up with the industry’s growth.
From new courses and degree offerings to Hollywood high-tech equipment, additions to the University of New Mexico’s Department of Film and Digital Arts are motivated by the exponential growth of our film industry.
“We wanted to give our students more freedom and flexibility to focus on their main interests,” said James Stone, chair of UNM’s Department of Film and Digital Arts.
Recent interest in New Mexico as a backdrop for movies prompted the department to add new degree concentrations in film production, animation and gaming, and film history and criticism. In addition, new courses have been offered to get students ready for Hollywood.
“We have a new course in directing, a new course in producing, it’s pretty unusual, actually, for these courses to be offered,” said Stone. “We certainly haven’t done it before.”
One student sees it as a way to focus on what students want to get out of their educations.
“The degrees have been broken out so people can be more specific about what it is that they’re really studying, instead of taking classes that may not be relevant to their degree,” said student Galen Nolan.
Faculty member and longtime local Dan Galassini had to go away for school. He says the new program will give other Lobos the opportunity he had to find somewhere else.
“As someone who grew up in Albuquerque, I’m looking at it as an opportunity to give back to the students in my hometown and to be able to be a part of a film school that I would have loved to have gone to when I was an undergraduate,” said Galassini. “I definitely think that the program is heading in a really good direction.”
He believes the new courses and offerings prepare students for hands-on jobs out of college.
“We’re able to combine classes that are both teaching the art aspect as well as the technical aspect, so the students we’re going to be graduating are going to have a deeper understanding of how to make films and have much broader educational background to it which does a couple of things,” said Galassini. “It’ll make them easily transferable into a lot of positions in the film industry.”
As New Mexico’s film industry grows, the school plans to keep up and add new classes as the demand changes.
“We’re trying to feed into this industry, and that’s the other motivating thing behind all these changes is that the New Mexico film industry has been growing so exponentially, and we want to give students the ability to work in it,” said Stone.
In the future, the school hopes to offer graduate work and a master’s degree through the Department of Film and Digital Arts.
“We’d love to be able to offer graduate work,” said Stone. “We don’t have that right now, we’re an undergraduate department, but we’d love to be offering classes for graduate students.”
A number of UNM film students have gone on to prestigious careers with Lucasfilm and Star Wars; Industrial Light and Magic, which is George Lucas’ visual effects and animation studio; Netflix, Google and more.