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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Students petition for film major at Western

By Jimmy Goulding


A petition has been created for the Dean of Fairhaven College, Jack Herring, to establish a film major at Western.  The Associated Students Board decided to disband the student filmmaking program, KVIK, last May, prompting students to take initiative to reintroduce filmmaking as an area of study.

Currently, there is no way to major in film at Western unless students design their own degree through the Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies.

There is a minor available through Western’s English department, but it focuses more on film history than filmmaking, senior and former member of KVIK Alex Johnston-Thomas said.

Junior Katrina James designed her major of social justice and film through Fairhaven College and has been involved with films for senior projects, as well as participating in Bellingham’s horror film festival, Bleedingham. She started the  petition through Change.org to get a film major started at Western. The petition received over 100 signatures within one week of its creation on Sept. 27.

James said she knows the impact film can have on people and the importance it serves in today’s society. 

Illustration by Shannon DeLurio

“Film is so accessible. It has the power to form ideologies in people, and people get their values from the television they grew up watching,” James said. “If we are really active minds changing lives, then why aren’t we changing lives in this way?” 

James is concerned about the future state of student filmmaking.

“By not providing a film major for Western, we are doing a few different things. One of them is we are turning away prospective students who might be interested in going to Western, but because of the lack of film major, they don’t come,” James said.  “We are excluding current and prospective students. We are ignoring one of the largest industries in the world.”

Without KVIK or a film major on campus, students who are interested in filmmaking and making connections with others within the community may have trouble finding that space. Former AS Films Coordinator Neal Dickinson is one example of someone who used his connections and what he learned at KVIK to help him network and land a job pertaining to film.

“I needed an outlet to meet people and work on creative projects, and that’s exactly what I found there,” Dickinson said. “The connections I made there opened the doors for the opportunity for an internship at the Pickford Film Center, and I used all that experience to get the film coordinator job. I don’t think I would have been the film coordinator if it wasn’t for KVIK.”

Now there are fewer spaces for like-minded filmmakers to meet up.

Johnston-Thomas offered some advice to students interested in filmmaking. “Just get together with like-minded people to try and make some films,” Johnston-Thomas said.

Johnston-Thomas is part of SHOW! The Show, a student-run club where individuals get together and create comedy films. “It’s a bunch of cool people who make comedy,” Johnston-Thomas said. “If people are still interested in making film they can still do that.”

James said she has high hopes for the petition.

“Doing things like this [petition] is important,” James said.  “I’ve been talking to my friends about it, to my co-workers and I think I’m going to start sharing my petition in my classes.”



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