When it comes to a career in editing, a formal education may not be absolutely necessary according to many industry pros. But if you want to get jobs right out of the gate and professional, hands-on experience when you′re seeking out your first jobs, it certainly doesn′t hurt. Another thing that will only prove beneficial? If that formal education came from Emerson College′s Media Arts Production program.
Talking to Backstage, Brooke Knight, Assistant Provost for Faculty Affairs at Emerson College (formerly the Chair of the Department of Visual and Media Arts), explains what sets Emerson apart, the benefits of a vast industry alumni network, and the not-insignificant amount of money the program spends every year making sure students have the most relevant gear and technology at their disposal.
Tell me a bit about the Media Arts Production major.
The Media Arts Production program is part of our BA degree, where students can get both theoretical and contractual information about media and its historical significance and situation, as well as hands-on production experience that investigates some of the major issues around production and why and how one goes about it to be effective storyteller and communicator.
Why does this program consistently rank so high for production programs?
I think that it rates so highly because of our alum, and there’s a really strong, informal network between alumni, especially in the entertainment industry. That’s a real benefit to our program: students are able to find positions shortly after graduation.
I also think that we’re quite a large program—1,650 students, both graduate and undergraduate in that department—which gives us an opportunity to allow students to explore a variety of different media. Students, when they enter, can pick and choose what they’re interested in. They don’t have to decide before they come to Emerson; they can choose in their second year what they might be interested in, and they can mix and match if they want to.
There’s a lot of flexibility in our curriculum, so [students are] really understanding the tools that are available to them to tell the stories they want to tell, especially in an environment where the media is changing so dramatically all the time. Students can [either] go broad or deep [with their area of study].
What facilities are available to Media Arts Production students?
We have professionally equipped and staffed spaces. We have a sound stage. We have two TV studios. We have an emerging media lab. We have digital lab spaces. We have a good number of facilities that are available for students to reserve. We have a ton of editing suites and audio suites. We also have a ton of equipment available for check-out for students to do their projects [with].
We spend at least $1 million a year on facilities and equipment.
What would you say to those who believe you don’t need a degree to be a successful editor?
There are a number of people who work in the industry who don’t have an advanced [degree]. Most of the folks who are leaders in the industry, however, do. Emerson [really gives] students two things.
One is accountability. Yes, you can learn everything online, but how many people actually do? Versus when they’re in classes and working with others and working with professors to push and challenge them. The other thing [we] provide is a community. It’s a great opportunity to meet like-minded students who are interested in the same kind of ideas and expressions you might be interested in. It’s a really really great opportunity to make those life-long connections with people you’ll work with.
It also provides a wide breadth of experience and it gives contextual information—history, theory, criticism—that allows students to place their work in the larger continuum of human expression.