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The Montana Film Office does much more than promote location shoots in “Big Sky Country” — it also supports the state’s film education programs while simultaneously working hard to bring in productions that can provide employment opportunities for university graduates, especially from Montana State University (MSU) in Bozeman (pictured left) and the University of Montana (UM) School of Media Arts in Missoula. The Film Office works with both schools to facilitate internships for students on Montana feature film projects and other productions.
MSU’s School of Film and Photography offers intensive, hands-on production programs for students seeking a Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis in film or photography. The school also offers the world’s first Master of Fine Arts in Science and Natural History Filmmaking (SNHF), and has a reputation for preparing its students for careers in their chosen specialties as professionally trained creative thinkers.
In MSU’s MFA program for Science and Natural History Filmmaking, students who have formal education and experience in science, engineering or technology receive filmmaking training to create films that will advance the public understanding of scientific pursuits. Graduate students travel the world with explorers and scientists to make films in diverse locations, ranging from Yellowstone National Park in MSU’s backyard to Alaska’s Pribilof Islands, the Galapagos and beyond. According to the Montana Film Office, SNHF students and alumni work for many leading networks and agencies, including National Geographic, BBC, PBS, Discovery, Animal Planet, theNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Field Museum of National History, Boston Museum of Science, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The program and its students have won dozens of awards, including five Student Emmys, five Fulbright scholarships, a Panda Award and numerous Tellys. SNHF students also oversee the Webby-winning science and natural history website “TERRA: The Nature of Our World” at www.lifeonterra.com.
The city of Missoula hosts the annual International Wildlife Film Festival as well as other film festivals, so it’s only natural that the University of Montana would house a prominent film school. Students in the UM School of Media Arts may choose to specialize in digital filmmaking, digital animation, integrated digital media or the sonic arts through the school’s specialized Bachelor of Fine Arts programs. Students focused on digital filmmaking fully engage in all areas of filmmaking from preproduction to post while studying the ever-changing techniques in the digital film world. The digital animation program guides students through the emerging applications needed for successful careers in visual effects, including both 3D visualization and 3D animation. UM students specializing in integrated digital media take courses that enable them to develop their artistic abilities while utilizing industry-standard media software, including Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator, Flash, Soundtrack and much more.
The BFA in Sonic Arts is a collaboration between UM’s School of Media Arts and School of Music. These students study sound as an artistic medium through emerging digital technologies in the areas of recording, editing, processing, mixing and spatializing digital audio. Beyond the undergraduate level, UM’s School of Media Arts also offers graduate programs in digital filmmaking and integrated digital media, allowing filmmakers to further hone their talents and skills. With Montana offering such extensive film programs with state-of-the-art facilities, it’s clear that California isn’t the only place where emerging filmmakers can get quality training.
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