Jonny Edbrooke looks at how film studies can benefit students eying a range of career paths.

For many years careers counselors at schools around the world looked at arts subjects with some trepidation, believing them to be of little worth for students’ future careers.

Maybe this was for good reason, as breaking into the artistic world of design or film, notoriously nepotistic industries, was reliant on working just for experience (rather than pay) or getting a lucky break.

Also there was the question of how an arts subject would help a student planning to go into business or other careers not connected to the arts.

With changes to media industries and the boom in social media we are seeing a drastic change in the value of studying media. The International School of Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC) is the first school to offer media studies as part of the middle years programme (MYP). “MYP media studies, gives us more than just film, it also looks at media and social media,” said Michael Clegg, ISHCMC Media Studies Teacher.

“We started with MYP media studies as the diploma is very rigorous, and we wanted to give our students the background needed before they start the IB Diploma, which is similar to the first year in film school.”

ISHCMC’s new secondary campus has purpose-built digital suites and recording studios to support the introduction of IB Film as a subject next year.

So how does knowledge of the media industry help a student who is looking to go into other careers? “Marketing is a huge aspect of any business, and now we see a lot of marketing done on social media, whether it’s Instagram, Snapchat or YouTube” says Michael. “If you’re able to put together your marketing campaign the way that you want, you can control your brand and save a lot of costs.”

Improvements and lowering costs of technology has definitely been a factor in the changes in the industry, with DSLR cameras with video capability now at affordable prices and basic laptop software now able to edit vision and mix audio.

“Every student has a phone in their pocket and every phone has an incredible camera, with access to apps such as filmic pro, a high definition app for videography, photography, journalism, education and online video production,” Michael said.  “We can really enhance that footage, and with YouTube you have access to potentially millions of people. Every student has a laptop, which can do amazing things that in the past would have been much more costly.”

With the event of the ability to self-broadcast through YouTube we are now seeing Vloggers like PewDiePie who appeared at the top of Forbes’ October 2015 list of the richest YouTube stars with a reported $12 million earned in 2015. This ability to bypass conventional broadcast media has made filmmaking easily accessible to many, as long as you have a good idea.

The global Media & Entertainment market reached $1.9 trillion in revenue in 2016, according to the 2016-2020 Entertainment & Media Outlook by PricewaterhouseCoopers, and is expected to expand by nearly 5 percent to reach just under $2 trillion this year.

Anyone can make a movie

Proof that technology has come a long way is the 48 Hour Film Project, an international film competition which assigns a team of contestants a genre, a character, a prop and a line of dialogue. The team has 48 hours to create a short film containing all the assigned elements.

The competition, which started in Washington in 2001, is now held in 130 cities around the world. Each team has 48 hours to make their film, which is then screened at a local theatre. The competition is only possible because of today’s technology: DSLR cameras and high quality editing suites available for desktops or laptops.

“Making a film requires a lot of teamwork, managing people, overseeing budgets, learning the ins and outs of a computer and camera, and overall keeping deadlines benefits anyone in the future” says Ross Stewart of 48 Hour Films.

“We have a lot of students who are not in the creative field, but are business, finance, engineering and science students, for example. We picked film as it’s one of the only art forms that mixes with business, making hand over fist continually.”

Again improvements and lowering cost of technology has definitely been a factor that allows just about anyone to make a movie. “You can shoot a video on a phone and it’s going to be much better quality that you could in the past,” Ross said.

The Future of Film

Margot Piorkowski is a grade 12 student at ISHCMC and team leader of the school’s Creativity, Action, Service  (CAS) film club. “It’s always been my passion to film and create to convey my messages in an artistic way,” she said. She has applied to study film at university after she graduates. “I’m looking at film schools, specifically in production, and ideally with the goal of becoming a film director. The film club has given me insight into some of the aspects of filming that I didn’t have when working on my solo projects, especially teamwork, which will be a great help later at film school.”

The channel CookieswirlC has more than 4.2 million subscribers as of early 2017 and has accumulated more than 5 billion views so far. In a day the channel is able to get an average of 7 million views across all its videos cumulatively.

This should generate an estimated revenue of around $10,500 per day, or$3.8 million per year, from ads that appear on the videos, according to the nailbuzz.com. With possibilities like this for self broadcasting, the future for film students is a much brighter one than in the past.