Film and Media Studies

Sarah Friedland's documentary class works on their films in the Main Hall lab.

The Film and Media (FAM) Studies program introduces students to artistic and academic approaches to films and new media, while exposing them to filmmaking and related industries in New York City and further afield. Courses provide students with the opportunity to make their own films, analyze films from aesthetic, political, social and historical perspectives, and employ their media skills in the contexts of industry,  creative production and civic engagement. Designed to be interdisciplinary in nature, the FAM program emphasizes the following:

  1. the nature of film as an artistic and creative process pursued by trained professionals
  2. training of graduates who are ready to pursue careers in film and media
  3. understanding and engagement with the diverse concerns and obligations of filmmakers in contemporary local and global contexts
  4. intellectual engagement with other disciplines that intersect with film and media studies

Location, Facilities and Equipment

The Film and Media Studies program is housed on the top floor of the college’s historic centerpiece Main Hall in two recently-renovated classrooms, a separate editing suite, and equipment room. Students edit their films on 17 dedicated iMac workstations using professional grade software (Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Audition). They also have access to professional high definition (HD) and 4K digital video cameras, an array of sound recorders and microphones, production equipment including gimbals, shoulder mounts, follow focus, dollies, lighting kits, and more specialized gear such as GoPro and drone cameras. Equipment is regularly updated, and students have access to both the equipment room and editing suites on a daily basis during the week, and, in the case of the editing stations, over the weekend during the semester.

Screenings and Events

The FAM program regularly hosts special guest speakers from the film community. Recent visitors have included renowned film theorist and critic Annette Insdorf and eminent Hollywood producer and Wagner alumnus Michael Tadross (“Die Hard 3,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “Hitch,” “Ocean’s 8”). The program also supports three annual screening events. In the fall, the FAM program co-sponsors the Wagner International Film Festival (WIFF) with the Department of Modern Languages. The WIFF’s recent editions have featured acclaimed recent films from France, Argentina, Thailand and Brazil (among others), with filmmakers Matías Piñeiro (“Viola”) and Anocha Suwichakornpong (“By the Time it Gets Dark”) appearing in person to discuss their work with students and Fellipe Barbosa (“Gabriel and the Mountain”) and Lucio Castro (“End of the Century”) participating via Skype. In the spring, the Wagner College Film Society sponsors a student-run film festival, and the FAM program hosts the annual Senior Showcase, where graduating majors screen their work (or present written theses) and participate in Q&As in front of friends, colleagues, family and community members. Additionally, introductory level classes in fiction and documentary filmmaking regularly culminate in joint end-of-semester screenings that are open to the Wagner community. To view the online edition of the Spring 2020 Senior Showcase, click here.

Program Requirements

Core Requirements (5 units) — introduction to the craft, criticism, history, and business of film and media studies.

  • FM 201 Introduction to Film Studies (or EN 230 Introduction to Film)
  • FM 291 Navigating the Film Industry (or AA 460 The Film Business)
  • FM 210 Introduction to Fiction Filmmaking
  • FM 222 Introduction to Documentary Filmmaking
  • FM 223 Introduction to Media Studies

Senior Learning Community Requirements (2 units) — the culmination of the major, including an advanced course on film and media criticism theory, history and criticism; and an internship in the film industry, a creative project, or a substantial research project.

  • FM400: Reflective Tutorial: Senior Project in Film, Media or Related Industry
  • FM490: Capstone Course: Advanced Film and Media Criticism and Theory

This track is for students focused on the production and creation of narrative films.

3 units as follows:

  • FM 221 Video Editing
  • FM 224 Cinematography
  • FM 322 Screenwriting I

2 units of the following:

  • FM 291 Screenwriting 2
  • FM 291 Narrative Filmmaking Workshop
  • AR 291 Basic Animation
  • AR 130 Digital Photography or AR 114 Photography 1
  • AR 203 Advertising Art I: Computer Design
  • AR 303 Advertising Art II: Computer Design
  • AR 224 Graphic Illustration
  • AH 491 Contemporary Art
  • TH 103 Script Analysis
  • TH 106 Introduction to Acting
  • TH 228 History of Costume and Fashion
  • TH 255 Acting for the Camera
  • TH 240 Stage Makeup
  • AA 475 Entertainment Business Law

This track is for students focused on the production and creation of documentary film and media.

Choose 5 courses with the following distribution.

3 units as follows:

  • FM 221 Video Editing
  • FM224 Cinematography
  • JR 261 Introduction to Journalism

2 units of the following:

  • FM291 New Modes in Documentary Film (including travel component to film festival)
  • FM291 History, Ethics and Aesthetics of Non-fiction Film
  • FM291 Cuban Cinema and Literature (including abroad component in Cuba)
  • FM291 Radio Production
  • AR 130 Digital Photography or AR 114 Photography 1
  • AR 203 Advertising Art: Computer Design
  • AR 221/AH221/HI240 Museum and Gallery Studies
  • AR240 TC Multimedia Production and Storytelling
  • JR 373 Ethics in Journalism (or any other single 300-level Journalism course)
  • CS 132 Object Oriented Software Development for the World Wide Web
  • GO 236 Politics in Literature and Film
  • AN 325 Culture, Power and Place
  • AN 201 Comparative Cultures (I)
  • PS 249 Psychology of Media
  • SO 257 The Sociology of Television
  • SO 101 Principles of Sociology
  • SO 103 American Society
  • any upper level modern language class not taught in translation

This track is for students focused on humanities-based theory and criticism of film and media.

Choose 5 courses with the following distribution.

2 units of the following:

  • TH 218 History of American Film
  • HI 322 History of Minorities in the Media
  • EN 331 Topics in World Cultures and Cinemas

3 units of the following; at least one must be a foreign language film class:

  • FM 291 Hollywood and US Film
  • EN 356/FR 356 French Cinema: Retrogrades, Rebels, and Realists (I) (W) (In translation)
  • EN 323 Aliens, Cyborgs, and Time Travel in Literature and Film (W)
  • EN 357/IT 367 Italian Cinema (I) (W)
  • EN 226 American Cultures and Literatures (W)(D)
  • SP 314 Topics in Hispanic Cinema (I) (In Spanish)
  • SP 230 Intimate Stories: The Short Film Genre (I)
  • FM 291:  Screening Films of Spain and Latin America
  • IT 357 Italian Cinema (I)
  • FR 356 (I) French Cinema: Retrogrades, Rebels, and Realists
  • HI 286 On the Screen: Gender, Class, and Culture in Film (I)
  • GO 236 Politics in Literature and Film
  • GO 2XX Feminist Film
  • PS 249 Psychology of Media
  • MU 1XX Music in Film

Please Note- Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this major, new classes housed in other departments are added frequently in all concentrations. If you think something should be included on the list and is not we may be able to sub it in.

The interdisciplinary minor in film and media studies will encourage students to become media literate and will foster creative engagement with the world via moving images. It will accomplish this goal by advancing awareness of media’s effect on perceptions of critical social, political and historical issues and by fostering both creative and practical skills of production and management. Courses in the minor address: film form and aesthetics; the history and politics of cinema, television, radio, and the internet; the business of film and media; multimedia production; and graphic computer arts.

Core Requirements – 2 units

  • FM201 Introduction to Film Studies OR FM223 Intro to Media Studies OR EN230 Intro to Film
  • FM210 Introduction to Fiction Filmmaking or FM222 Documentary Film Making

Elective Requirements – 3 units

Choose three of the following courses.The co-directors of the Film & Media Studies program can approve classes not on this list if they are relevant. Please contact Profs. Kim or Cartelli with any questions.

  • FM201 Introduction to Film Studies or EN230 Intro to Film
  • FM210 Introduction to Fiction Filmmaking
  • FM221 Video Editing
  • FM222 Introduction to Documentary Filmmaking
  • FM224 Cinematography
  • AR 130 Digital Photography or AR 114 Photography I
  • AR 203 Advertising Art I: Computer Design or AR 303 Advertising Art II: Computer Design
  • FM291 The Film Business
  • AA 460 The Film Business
  • EN 3XX (I) Topics in World Cultures and Cinemas
  • EN 323 Aliens, Cyborgs, and Time Travel in Literature and Film (W)
  • FM 223 Introduction to Media Studies
  • FM 3XX Screenwriting I
  • IT 357 Italian Cinema (I)
  • FR 356 (I) French Cinema: Retrogrades, Rebels, and Realists
  • SP 230 (I) Intimate Stories: the Short Film Genre
  • SP 314 (I) Topics in Hispanic Cinema
  • FM 291: Screening Films of Spain and Latin America.
  • GO 236 Politics in Literature and Film
  • GO 2XX Feminist Film
  • HI 286 On the Screen: Gender, Class, and Culture in Film
  • HI 322 The History of Minorities in the Media
  • JR 3XX – any one 300-level journalism course (but only one can be applied to the minor)
  • MU 1XX Music in Film
  • PS 249 Psychology of Media
  • SO 257 The Sociology of Television
  • TH 218 History of American Film
  • TH 255 Acting for the Camera

Course Descriptions

This course instructs students in the terminology of film analysis, including a breakdown of film style– genre, mise-en-scène cinematography, sound, and editing. Students will analyze films from a variety of periods and countries, and will apply this understanding through creative projects, analytical essays and journalistic writing. This course will focus on the artistry and history of the medium, as well as the social and political concepts that are illuminated by a thorough analysis of a film.

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of digital video production and narrative filmmaking: script analysis, pre-production, working with actors, cinematography, sound recording, and editing. We won’t cover screenwriting, although we will explore what makes for a good story. Students will receive training on digital video cameras and editing software, and will develop their storytelling skills through a series of directing exercises and scenes. In addition, scenes from classic and contemporary films will be analyzed and discussed in class.

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of documentary production. Students will learn about style and process in non-fiction film and apply this knowledge to their own documentary production work. Central to this course is a close observation and understanding of the world around us– from the microcosm of Wagner College to the metropolis of New York City. Students will learn how to be respectful and acute observers in order to focus their lenses on the world around them.

The great film editor Walter Murch says, “Every film is a puzzle really, from an editorial point of view.” Students will walk away from this class with a hands on understanding of the great cerebral, organizational, and creative work that go into editing a film. We will also study the technological history of moving image editing. Students will work with found footage and their own media to edit in varying styles, including documentary, narrative, and experimental.  

“Making a film requires a lot more than just following a certain storyline, the words on the page and how the actors say their lines. A lot of it has to do with the visual nuances and the environment that’s created in the film.” – Ellen Kuras (Cinematographer). In this class students will learn how to use cinematography to further their skills as storytellers. They will be introduced to advanced concepts in video lighting, lenses, multiple camera shoots and camera movement. Through the creation of their own projects, students will better understand the role of the cinematographer.

This course introduces students to the history and analysis of different forms of media including, radio, television, video games and the Internet. Students will gain an understanding of why media is so pervasive in society and how to properly read and decode it. They will also analyze the artistry and technique of media production –– from radio plays of the 1920s to present day interactive media art.

“If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.” – Stanley Kubrick

Throughout this course you will learn the foundational elements of a successful screenplay: character development, narrative structure, and of course, proper formatting. Through careful study of professional screenplays, you will analyze and learn to recognize positive strategies and unique styles. In addition, you will also write your own original short screenplays and workshop the work of your fellow classmates. By semester’s end, you should feel confident to follow the words of prolific director/writer Stanley Kubrick as noted above — and begin to understand how writing for the screen has infinite possibilities, and equally unique challenges.

This course provides a critical, historical, and global survey of the major questions, concepts, and trends in film theory. We will examine how the study of film has been influenced by various social, cultural, political, ethical, and economic theories and how our identities help to shape and are shaped by the moving image. Possible areas of exploration include: authorship, class, gender, psychoanalysis, race, realism and spectatorship. This course will also look ahead towards future trends of media making, interaction, and analysis. Senior standing is required. Co-requisite FM400

This course offers the senior major the opportunity to embark on a field-based project aligned with their particular concentration. The project will be decided upon in conjunction with their advisor, and might take the form of an internship with a film or media-based firm, an independent production project, and/or an in-depth research project. In addition to spending a minimum of 100 hours on independent work for the project, the student will be responsible for meeting with their advisor on a weekly basis, completing a series of multimedia journal entries documenting their work, and composing a final paper linking their project experience with the theoretical/academic background gained over the course of their studies within their particular concentration and capstone courses. Senior standing is required. Co-requisite FM490.

This intermediate course introduces students to the wide panorama of contemporary documentary film theory and practice, with a specific emphasis on new technologies and the way films are programmed or curated in festivals and other contexts. Students will receive hands-on experience in cutting-edge documentary production practices including the use of GoPro cameras, drone/webcam technology and the making of web-based documentaries at the same time as they are exposed to relevant films, filmmakers, artists and thinkers. Courses at Wagner are complemented by a trip to the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, MO, during the first weekend of spring break and a session with a programmer from The Film Society of Lincoln Center. Prerequisite: FM 222 (Intro to Documentary Filmmaking) or the instructor’s permission

This course will be a broad survey of the independent film industry, designed primarily for filmmakers (screenwriters, directors, producers) but open to all. The focus will be on preparing independent filmmakers to finance, produce, and distribute their own work. Topics will include fundraising, casting, film festival strategies, distribution platforms, and more. Students will deliver in-class group presentations and write research papers. Guest speakers will provide working professionals’ perspectives on different aspects of the business.

We’ll explore the challenges of eliciting good on-camera performances from actors. This will involve a survey of basic acting techniques, from script analysis to rehearsal to building a character and more; considerations of how to collaborate fruitfully with actors; an examination of how performances are shaped for the camera and how editing shapes performances in the finished film; and the supplemental study of various films, clips, and readings.

The bulk of the work for the semester will be two scenes that students will prepare and rehearse, and present twice in class. For the first scene, students will act themselves, using each other as scene partners. For the second scene, students will direct actors they find on their own.

Over the course of the semester, each student will write, direct, and edit a short film. Films can be between three and eight minutes long. The emphasis of the class will be on finding ways to make personally expressive and technically polished work on a tight timeline, with limited funding and resources.

This is an intermediate-level class; students should have some previous experience with narrative filmmaking and digital cameras and editing systems. While the class will primarily focus on making the short films, we’ll also devote class time to exploring related topics such as script analysis, casting and rehearsing, staging and camera techniques, production management, and more, via a combination of lectures, discussions, and analysis of clips and short films. Prerequisite: FM210 (Introduction to Video Production and Filmmaking)

This intermediate-level class is for students who want to explore more deeply into the art and craft of screenwriting. Students will continue the feature-length scripts they began in Screenwriting I, or will begin a entirely new project. The class will primarily be a writing workshop in which students will present their work for critique and discussion; there will also be lectures on topics such as story structure and scene structure, outlining, character, dialogue, the business of screenwriting, and more. Prerequisite: Screenwriting I (FM322) or permission of instructor.

This course will cover the history of Hollywood, from its early inception to present day. This course will examine the Hollywood industry — marking important turning points and innovations that transformed the relationship between Hollywood and its adoring public. Additionally, this course will dive into the most controversial political and cultural transitions (namely censorship, post war realities, and exploitation films) that rocked the industry and changed public perception of what defines “Hollywood.” This course will also explore narrative design, genre and style, as well as an in-depth study of some of
Hollywood’s most beloved practitioners including stars, producers, and directors, both inside and outside of the mainstream.

Television has been described as all of these things, and yet, it persists as one of America’s most valued, most discussed, most topical, and most relevant cultural products. This course sets out to debunk the negative stereotypes of television by investigating the polysemy (many meanings) of television, uncovering the limitless potential of the medium. Through a study of the aesthetics of television’s form, complexity of its narrative structure, numerous cultural effects (nostalgia, feminism, socio-economic class), and television’s common genres, this course will look at the medium of television as a meaningful cultural product – a representation of America from the earliest network beginnings to the current post-broadcast era. Students will analyze and unpack television shows as a critical touchstone of American culture, while also delving into close textual analysis as a means to foster discussion.

Women and Hollywood examines the role of women, both on screen and behind the scenes. Presented as a non-chronological survey course, week to week, students will explore noteworthy directors, screenwriters, actors, editors, producers, hyphenates, studio executives, and critics — covering both film and television. Additionally, students will examine exactly how women appear on screen, exploring the earliest representations in 1920s Hollywood to the Bechdel test to intersectionality and trans representation today. A sample of the Hollywood figures to be explored include: Alice Guy-Blaché, Louise Brooks, Dorothy Arzner, Louella Parsons, Bette Davis, Elaine May, Polly Platt, Barbra Streisand, Mary Tyler Moore, Oprah Winfrey, Nora Ephron, Pauline Kael, Thelma Schoonmaker, Mira Nair, Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Laverne Cox, and many more.

In this interdisciplinary single-unit ILC, students will gain exposure to ethnographic film as a key component of visual anthropology and documentary filmmaking. Ethnographic filmmaking has been a way for practicing social scientists to push the boundaries of their own research while challenging central disciplinary assumptions about representation and “otherness.” Ethnographic films have also made vital contributions to the development of documentary film during the past century, and, more recently, have served as a source of inspiration for contemporary artists. Students will watch and discuss important historic and contemporary ethnographic films, interact virtually with film directors/social scientists, and complete readings relevant to visual anthropology, ethnographic and documentary film, visual studies, and sound studies.

This team-taught Intermediate Learning Community combines the visual work of animation with the performance of voice acting. Students will learn the intricacies of voice acting, including characterizations, studio setup, and action through the voice. While the focus of the voiceover work will be on animation, students will also learn the basics of vocal anatomy for manipulation and character development, and explore some strategies for commercial work. On the animation side, students will learn the basics of character design and develop the visuals as well as a voice for their characters. Using Adobe’s Photoshop, Character Animator, and Animate, students will storyboard a scene and learn the basics of lip-syncing and animation to bring their characters to life. Group assignments will provide an opportunity for collaborative storytelling and improvisation.

This class uses Adobe After Effects as a tool to achieve the students’ individual artistic goals while providing an overview of different animation concepts and techniques. The class will cover the history of this illustrious medium. Starting with the basics, the course introduces key framing techniques, live-action compositing and working with green screen, animating still photographs (with work in Photoshop), puppet animation and time manipulation. The first half of the semester will contain homework assignments that allow students to grasp individual components of this highly technical toolset, while in the second half, the students concentrate on an individualized final project based on their specific areas of interest. This class is recommended for film majors, art majors and anyone interested in the limitless possibilities of the animated film.


For further information regarding the FAM program, please contact one of its co-directors, Prof. Philip Cartelli ( or Prof. Nelson Kim (