Save Film at Columbia College Chicago

Save Film at Columbia College Chicago

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John Jadkowski started this petition to Columbia College Chicago and

If you ask any current or alumnae cinematography students what their best experience was while attending Columbia there's a high probability that they'll all say the same thing; shooting on film. Columbia is unlike any other undergraduate film school in the country in that they offer their cinematography students a comprehensive education in both digital and film, whereas other schools have abandoned film completely in the last decade. Columbia not only maintained its existing standing in film infrastructure but has actively expanded it, investing in a top-of-the-line film scanner just a few years ago. Columbia grads enter the industry having had the unique opportunity to learn the art of cinematography on the most challenging and sought-after medium in the industry, and as a result of this, Columbia students graduate with–not only an advanced understanding of exposure and highly sought after projects shot on film to include in their reels–but a critical advantage of getting into the industry because of their extensive knowledge of the film medium. 

Sadly this may all be coming to an end.  Columbia College Chicago has recently announced its intention to eliminate celluloid from the school's curriculum by the end of next year. The reasoning being to "align with current industry practice and to better position our students for a career in the field." No students or alumni were consulted, and many current faculty voices who opposed this change in the curriculum were not heard.

This reasoning is incomprehensible at best and deceitful at worst, considering that film is currently experiencing a rebirth of popularity and is being used on more small, mid, and big-budget productions than it has in over a decade. The idea that training students to work with this resurgent, highly-specialized medium will somehow put them at a disadvantage is farcical. Almost as farcical as the idea that shooting on digital and film cannot both be taught effectively at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive, and to suggest otherwise is a lie. 

Of course, the real reason that film is being cut from the program is something that will be obvious to anyone who has attended the school in the past couple of years: money.

Columbia's reckless cutting of student and faculty resources the past few years has been rampant and shameless. Especially in light of the massive raises the president of the college has been granted, which in and of themselves could've gone a long way towards fully funding the use of film at the school. This is just another in a long line of budget cuts at the student's expense being disguised as an improvement.

We are asking with this petition that the administration of Columbia College Chicago rethink this harmful decision and reimplement film as an integral part of the Cinema Arts and Science curriculum. Understanding how to work with film is an increasingly sought-after and rare skill in the industry and up until now, Columbia was one of the last film schools still producing workers trained in this art. This isn't just an investment in film, it's an investment in your student’s futures.

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