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Big things are happening with the TXST Film Production Program

Friday, December 29, 2023

The stakeholders in the city of San Marcos are working together to ensure that the community thrives. Texas State University adjusts its curriculum to suit the needs of local businesses, and city staff work to make sure that graduates want to stay here and keep their knowledge and skills local.

Currently, Texas is a burgeoning film center. With the Hill Country Film Studio set to break ground in 2024, it makes perfect sense that the university has given the longstanding unofficial film program its own building and has made film a specialization — Theater with a Film Production Concentration. Daniel Seed, the TXST Big Ideas podcast host and an assistant professor of practice at the school of Journalism and Mass Communication, said the Texas Legislature approved a film incentive package that gives $200 million in incentives for film across the state.

With these new developments, Elizabeth Buckley, a lecturer for the Department of Theater and Dance, went on the podcast to discuss the TXST film program, which she said could have an intern program on the horizon that would make the students' hiring ability skyrocket.

Buckley has more than 25 years of experience in film and television and has received several accolades for her writing and production work, including an Emmy, a Peabody and a Gracie award.

Buckley said she started with acting but found being on the other side of the camera was equally gratifying.

“It’s absolutely a wonderful form of expression. It’s similar but different to being an actor and being able to perform and having that sense of release, of contribution, of being a part of something,” Buckley said. “I really love going to work. This is not just a job, this is a part of who I am.”

Seed said the enrollment into the film program has grown rapidly over the past six to seven years and increased 53% between 2016 and 2021.

Buckley said a big part of the increase in enrollment to the film program has to do with the success and good reputation of the Theater and Dance program at the university.

“Bring to that Tom Copeland (who founded the film concentration program), whose vision is something that he implemented as Texas film commissioner that was helping artists work,” Buckley said, adding that he made it possible for artists to not only learn the craft but learn how to thrive and live off of those skills. “That’s what I teach — the Business of Film, and then I also teach producing because I’m a producer. I think that’s what makes Texas State unique.”

One of the assignments in Buckley’s Business of Film course forces the students to attend a networking event and conduct an informational interview with someone working in the student’s chosen field.

“And then distill all of that and teach that to their classmates,” Buckley said. “The challenge to them, to step out of their comfort zone and to do those two things and then to step in front of their classmates and share that. It’s tremendous to see the growth they go through.”

Buckley said the fact that the film program is run through the theater program and has overlap with the mass communication department gives the students access to plenty of hands-on learning experiences. The crossover can give students the opportunities to sample different lines of work to find what “true north” is for them.

“There’s this intersection of actors and you have to have actors to tell the story and dance and music, and it’s all in one place,” Buckley said. “That is the big difference. So many programs are heavy with theory.”

The film department's equipment has been slowly accumulating, which gives the students more access to try out new techniques. The film building, Live Oak Hall, now has a Foley Stage for the production of different sound effects and a television and film studio. The facility is over 10,000 square feet and cost $10 million.

“It’s a film studio much like anything they’d see once they graduate. It’s professional,” Buckley said. “Within the film studio is the lighting and grip equipment, so the students are able to work with the lights not just in the lobby of the Theater Building, which they were doing.”

To listen to this episode of Big Ideas, go to news. podcast/episode-42. html.

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666