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Welcome to Cinema & Media Arts at Vanderbilt University!

Emphasizing cinema as a modern aesthetic form and hands-on cultural practice, our interdisciplinary curriculum combines filmmaking with the study of media theory and global film history. Our courses cover diverse international cultures as well as critical and creative practices, including training in both 16mm and digital cinematography. We encourage our majors to create work outside of the classroom and to submit senior projects to academic journals, film festivals, and conferences. Through the The Vandy-in-Hollywood Summer Internship Program (ViHSIP) coordinated through's Vanderbilt's Career Center, students explore pathways into the entertainment industry.

Members of the faculty publish and/or screen work in national and international venues. Locally we help to foster intellectual community through the  International Lens film series. To enhance our understanding of cinema's past and future, we routinely host scholars, critics, and filmmakers on campus. We also coordinate the Film Theory and Visual Culture Seminar at the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities.


An important message from CMA -

Hello all, 

The Fall semester is scheduled to begin shortly with several changes in store for everyone, including us in Cinema & Media Arts. In order to answer any questions you may have and/or to mitigate any confusion regarding what we have in store for the semester, I wanted to reach out to you all to give you information on a variety of aspect that will be changing in our department for the Fall 2020 term. 

CMA Production Equipment

We in CMA have made the difficult decision not to check out gear to anyone at all in the Fall in order to protect students, faculty, and staff from any additional exposure to the virus. All of our production classes have been converted to remote/online, so we will ask students to use whatever they already have at home (phones, tablets, camcorders, etc.) to create their works without the use of our production equipment room. So there will be NO EQUIPMENT CHECK-OUT for the Fall semester

Adobe Creative Suite

The 3-year contract the university had with Adobe to give out Creative Cloud licenses has ended, and they have informed us that there is no intention for them to renew it now (it was not from CMA or even Arts & Sciences – it was a University-wide program run by and paid for by a digital division in the library, I believe). So our plan for the Fall is going to be the same as prior to this agreement –  each student will have to purchase their own Adobe license or use our computer lab on campus , which will be open, albeit with fewer, socially-distanced computer stations. We figure that paying 3-4 months at the going rate of $20/per month for course materials is less than many textbooks for other classes/majors. Info for purchasing Adobe Creative Cloud at the educational rate: Click Here

Changes to Classes, Online vs. Face-to-Face

As you all should know, the schedule on YES has been changed and adjusted for many classes - including new time schedules, teaching modes, enrollment caps, as well as additional courses added or taken away. In CMA, none of our courses were removed, but the majority of the courses have been switched to online-only. So the only classes in CMA that are meeting in-person are  CMA2400: History of World Cinema  &   CMA3892: Cinema in the Age of Trump . All other courses will meet fully online in either synchronous or non-sync forms (check with each class individually regarding this).

Please note that both intermediate filmmaking courses (CMA 2260 & CMA2250) have been altered in content, even if the course titles have been unchanged: 

CMA2260: Digital Production Workshop  will now be solely focused on Nonfiction/Documentary Production, instead of Narrative production as it has been in the past. 

CMA2250: 16mm Filmmaking  will no longer deal with 16mm film or production at all. This course will serve solely as a Video Post-Production and Editing class. 

I will include a full course description at the very end of this email message. 

Degree Audit Adjustments/Courses that count for Major/Minor

Since we are in an unprecedented teaching and learning situation, we are going to also have to adapt and be flexible in regards to our degree requirements as well. So if you need a course that you are unable to fulfill due to changes in your or our schedule this semester, please contact your academic advisor to see if you can plan out a course of action together to replace a particular course.

As for the production course that have changed: if you were really interested in 16mm film production or Digital Production as a narrative course and are not as interested in the changed topic now, then I suggest you to wait until the spring semester or next year when it may be offered again as its intended course. Similarly, if you are now suddenly interested in either of these new classes but have already taken the particular course number, then we can try to figure out a way to make it count toward your degree audit if you would like to enroll. Please sign up for a seat first and then speak to me regarding this just before the semester begins so that we can see if it can get straightened out in your degree audit (it will simply replace an older grade for the course if you do not do this).


For those of you with an Immersion requirement, this is just a reminder that  you have until September 7th to submit your Immersion proposal to the Office of Immersion Resources . Completing your CMA major will already count as your Immersion requirement because you will have to take our Senior Seminar course that is considered an immersive capstone. You should be able to note this in your immersion proposal with a basic idea of what you may do when the time comes. I also operate as an immersion coordinator, so you are welcome to let me know if you have any questions.

Course Descriptions:

CMA 2260: Digital Production

In this course we will explore the history, theory, and practice of Nonfiction filmmaking and the many different modes (expository, poetic, performative, observational, reflexive, participatory) that encompass it. There will be weekly readings, film screenings, and discussion, as well as a variety of digital production exercises and assignments exploring these different non-fiction filmmaking modes.

CMA 2250: “16mm Filmmaking”

This course will serve as an introduction to the art of video post-production. Students will explore the theory and practice of various editing styles through a series of readings and assignments, in order to better understand the impact of editing decisions and the role of video editors in the storytelling process. Students will learn how timing, pacing, audio editing, and color can be used as effective storytelling tools in post-production.

Please reach out to me or others in the department with any additional questions or concerns.

Stay safe.

- J. Waters