When internationally renowned film director Danny Boyle’s docudrama on the Sex Pistols came through San Antonio last year to film at locations on the St. Mary’s Strip, most of the behind-the-scenes production workers were from Austin.
A new media studies program at the University of Texas at San Antonio aims to change that, eventually providing a skilled local workforce for movies and television shows filmed here.
The university will offer a Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies: Film and Media Studies beginning in the fall, pulling together classes from various departments to create a full degree program for students seeking to become media professionals.
Paul Ardoin, associate professor of humanities in the UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts, will direct the program, which he identified as a potential “missing piece” of the larger picture.
It “has to be clear that we have an educational pipeline to staff those productions when they come into San Antonio,” Ardoin said.
He credited the San Antonio Film Commission for promoting the city as a good locale for productions and strong educational programs at Alamo Colleges, SAY Sí and North East School of the Arts, for introducing students to media production, but said the four-year degree program should help solidify San Antonio as a professional resource.
“Next time Danny Boyle comes, we should be staffing that crew, it shouldn’t be that they have to import people from other parts of Texas.”
The film and media studies program will feature faculty from various departments, including communications, music, anthropology, political science, and the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, which might become the program’s departmental home in 2024 if enrollment projections pan out.
Ardoin said response among prospective students has already exceeded expectations, though final enrollment figures haven’t yet been determined.
In the interim, film and media studies will be one of four new “niche” programs in the multidisciplinary studies program, which allows the university to adapt “in response to workforce demands in advance of offering full degree programs,” according to a university announcement about the new program.
San Antonio is well-poised for the new program, Ardoin said, having achieved notoriety from recent productions such as Boyle’s Pistol and consistently ranking among MovieMaker magazine’s top cities to live and work as a filmmaker.
“We’re seeing momentum across the board. We have a city that’s hospitable to this kind of stuff, we have private industry that wants it to come here, and now,” the hope is for the city to have an established four-year educational footprint, Ardoin said.