Monday, 21 November 2011

How To Study Film: Part Three


Like every large and eclectic group of people, students will band together when the shit really hits the fan; if the powers that be are about to try to charge you nine grand a year just to learn, for example. However, the rest of the time they split into hundreds of factions, and factions within factions. Unfortunately for us, Film students are often among the most maligned. This is sad, but true. Although it may at times feel unfair and annoying, you can't really blame other students for this. You may be taking notes for your essay on the use and development of spectacle and special effects in American cinema, but from the outside, it looks to your housemates as though you're clogging up the living room watching Star Wars with a big bowl of popcorn in your lap.

Much of the time, you will just have to sit back and take their gentle abuse with good humour. Remember that most Film Studies courses have very little actual teaching time compared to other subjects; you will probably have to spend only about six compulsory hours a week on campus, eight at the most (not counting screenings and any time spent in the library). But when compared to your friends who are doing so-called 'real' subjects, you will come across as though you spend all your time in a hammock in the back garden, swilling beer and reading amusing blogs. And hey, I'm not saying that it's not like that, but it's very definitely not like that all the time. I can distinctly remember what it was like for me during exam season; it might not have looked like it from the outside, but it was just as tough for me as it was for everyone else. Well, almost as tough.

Many people believe themselves to be experts in Film, despite not really knowing much about it, simply because they have seen a fair amount of movies. Therefore, studying Film can appear to be just a lot of people indulging in their favourite hobby for three years and then getting a degree at the end of it. I must admit that there have been moments when I haven't exactly poured water on the fire of this misconception; I remember once coming home from campus and writing a Facebook status along the lines of 'Harriet Matthews just attended a lecture on Jurassic Park. Still think you chose the right degree?'

There's nothing wrong with admitting that Film Studies is fun. What's wrong is letting people think that's all it is - especially if those people happen to be fellow students who will think nothing of sticking out a leg causing you to face-plant into the nearest library stack just because you're carrying a pile of DVDs instead of books. OK, I'm clearly exaggerating; you won't have to put up with that. What you will have to put up with though, is a fair amount of mockery, sniping, and general holier-than-thou-ness from some fellow students who will take your degree choice as either a joke, or a personal insult. But look on the bright side; these idiots are the minority, and if they try to start any shit with you while your fellow Film buddies are around, you can all have great fun intimidating them with your word perfect 'scary gangster' quotes from films such as Pulp Fiction, or The Godfather.

So when people accuse you of messing around or slacking off (and they will) just because your degree involves studying something that is accessible to everyone with a DVD player and a local HMV, all you need to do is remember these three basic facts:

1. Film is an art form, and never let anyone tell you different.

2. Don't let people think they're as good as you just because they did two weeks on Psycho when they were fifteen.

3. Try not to gloat over your fellows too much, but don't let them call you an ignorant layabout either. It's their own fault they chose boring degrees. 

How To Study Film: Part Four: MOST PEOPLE ARE IDIOTS

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