"Maybe it's just me, but I'd much rather be a poor filmmaker than a rich engineer."
This is the mindset of Matt Miller, a junior hoping to change his major to the brand-new cinema studies program.
His reasoning reflects the filmmaking interests of UT students, and starting fall of 2014, those interests will be acknowledged with the interdisciplinary program.
While UT has had a cinema studies minor since the 80s, Charles Maland, J. Douglas Bruce professor of English, has spearheaded the effort to bring the major to campus because he says it will be "more practical to include a major with cinema history and production."
Currently, the cinema studies minor includes courses spread across multiple departments, including the College of Communication and Information and the College of Arts and Sciences.
The new major will build on the minor, and students pursuing the minor will be able to count all of their cinema courses toward the major.
"We had talked about it but didn't really have economic support," Maland said. "A couple of years ago, Sam Swan in JREM and I started talking about it. We had always had some students who would've liked to major in cinema.
"We thought it would be nice for the students who really knew that's the focus they wanted to have."
As the way people make movies has changed, the "economic" aspect of filmmaking has changed. These changes have made it less expensive for UT to offer production classes.
"When courses were taught on 16 mil(limeter) film, the courses were expensive," Maland said, "and it was hard to do production courses because you had to send out film for development. As we moved more and more to digital production, it's gotten more efficient to teach those kinds of classes."
With courses in cinema history, screenwriting and production, the major attempts to give students a broad education in cinema while preparing students to take their next steps if filmmaking is a career goal. And though cinema studies can be used as a student's sole major, Maland said he encourages students to use it as a second major to flesh out their degree.
"(Cinema studies) isn't necessarily going to guarantee a job in the production side. It's a very competitive world," Maland said. "That's one reason why we thought about double majors because for those who are especially interested in production we'd actually encourage like the JREM and a cinema studies major.
"I think the more courses you can have in actually making digital video, the more experience you get and the more flexibility you have in doing different kinds of it – news reporting, documentary making, fiction film – that's going to enhance your chances."
On a university level, having a cinema studies major speaks highly of UT's academic programs, according to Paul Harrill, associate professor in the School of Art.
"There are a lot of ways having a major like this is good to have at the flagship school in Tennessee," Harrill said. "The film and TV industry are a major part of the state's economy. A lot of students don't know know that there a ton of TV jobs; Knoxville is a major hub, thanks not only to Scripps but to smaller companies making entertainment here."
For Miller, the experience of filmmaking goes beyond getting a degree and a steady post-college job.
"There's something about film and cinema that draws people in and being a part of creating something like that is pretty incredible," Miller said. "I think colleges have started to move away from what their students actually want to do and have been pushing them to study majors that will 'help them get a job out of college.'
"Though that may be true, I think college is a time for students to find what they love and try to make a living at it."
For students interested in the cinema studies major, an interest meeting will be held today at 3:30 p.m. in Hodges Library Room 253.