On July 25, The Hollywood Reporter released its second annual ranking of the top film schools in the world for the second year, Emerson College found a spot on the list. The college placed at number nine, soaring past its position at number 18 during the inaugural year. However, Emerson professorsquestion the validity of the ranking.
Jonathan Wacks, Professor and Chair of the visual and media arts department, questions who put together this ranking, arguing that it is hard to compare one school with another based on specific variables.
There are three main components by which The Hollywood Reporter determined its ranking: tuition cost, degrees offered, and notable alumni of the school. Past Emerson alumni like Doug Herzog, President of MTV Networks, All In The Family creator Norman Lear, and Pride And Prejudice And Zombies author Seth Grahame-Smith impressed the board with their post collegiate endeavors, according to the article in the Reporter.
“The ranking is to be enjoyed but not taken too seriously,” said Wacks, who cites a needed diversity among the department’s student body and increase in full-time faculty as opportunities for improvement.
“There are serious conversations happening on how to restructure the department,” said Wacks.
Drastic change is already happening to the department in the form of a brand new facility opening on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Gordon Street for the Los Angeles Program in the spring of 2014 .
Professor Harlan Bosmajian, who teaches cinematography at Emerson, said he is excited about the possibilities the new facility can bring the college.
“It’s going to bring the quality of the education to a whole different level,” said Bosmajian, who said that Emerson’s Boston campus simply isn’t capable of teaching filmmaking techniques such as lighting an 80-foot green screen, an increasingly realistic expectation of a film school in the age of digital filmmaking.
James Burg, a visual and media arts major, is finishing up his education with Emerson College in L.A. but much to his dismay will miss the opportunity to live at the incoming campus facility.
“I’m really jealous that I don’t get to experience it,” said Burg, who says that currently the L.A. program doesn’t really “feel like Emerson.”
“To be able to come out to L.A. makes it a lot easier to get my feet wet without being thrown in the deep end,” said Burg of the experience.
He is currently interning at Good Universe, a film production company founded by Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane of Lionsgate. Burg is the physical production intern, handling budgets and production schedules. Burg is working on the upcoming film Last Vegas, a new Robert De Niro film that begins filming in Atlanta in seven weeks.
For students at the Boston campus, Emerson College still has a lot to offer. Ryann Tagle a sophomore visual and media arts major, has been involved with numerous on-campus activities. This semester, Tagle will be secretary for Frames Per Second, one of the college’s film clubs. He also worked for both The Emerson Channel and Emerson Independent Video last year.
“Emerson prides itself in extra-curriculars,” said Brooke Marin a sophomore visual and media arts major. “I just hope the Emerson Mafia is an actual thing, because I’d like to get a job after college.”
The Emerson Mafia is the nickname assigned to alumni of the college, who proceed to help their fellow peers find work in the industry they majored in.
“You can be inspired by rankings but at the end of the day, we just need to teach our students that if they keep current and maintain an artistic edge, you don’t need to worry about what other schools are doing,” said Bosmajian.