Eastern Whittier State University will be screening a program of senior thesis films by graduating animation students, almost all of whom will never find jobs in animation. The screening is set for 7:30 pm, Friday, May 11 at the EWSU Art Hall. The 3 ½ hour screening of 10 unbelievably long films is free and open to the public.
The films represent the culmination of four years and $125,000 in tuition, books, living and miscellaneous expenses (not including the car, insurance or subsidized trips to Costco while at home on break). Students may base their senior work on any topic, though they must first get approval by the thesis committee before beginning production. This program philosophy of “minimal artistic interference” supports the student’s efforts to explore their creative energy while at the same time, guarantees production of films that make no sense and are far too long. The program is supported by a distinguished faculty of practicing artists and industry veterans, many of whom have worked on productions as recently as a decade ago, providing BFA and MFA students with the mentoring and personal training needed to sustain and propel them through 4-5 years of expensive education with little to show in return.
“The thesis film is the end result of four years of intensive study in all areas of digital filmmaking and animation. Students apply the skills they’ve learned with their unique artistic perspective to craft films that display limited storytelling range, minimal character development, and no discernible sense of timing,” said Dr. Thaddeus Morton-Rostrum, associate professor of botany and dean of the program. He continued, “Turning their vision into reality, through ill-advised, poorly conceived and unbelievably long short films will help them in their quest for future employment in the highly competitive TV and motion picture craft services industries.”
Dr. Morton-Rostrum’s comments are consistent with the feelings expressed by other top educators, who in recent years have voiced concerns with the length and poor quality of student films. A recent NEA study showed that for the academic years 2008-2011, senior student films, on average, were 85% too long, up from 11% during the 1978-1981 period. The study attributed this incredible increase in way, way too long films to the preponderance of digital filmmaking technology and the 1985 change in Federal law that made it illegal to strike a film student and tell them their films were terrible.