University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Berkeley offers an interdisciplinary undergraduate program leading to a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in film. The program offers rigorous engagement with the entire culture of moving-images, teaching students to think historically, theoretically and analytically about a wide range of cinematic forms. At the same time, it encourages students to look at moving images from the vantage point of other disciplines. To this end, the Department of Film and Media cooperates with a number of other departments and programs on campus. Students earning their BA in film may also choose to complement their study of the history and theory of moving images with the hands-on experience provided by production classes.

Declaring the Major

To declare a major in film, students must have completed a minimum of 30 units, and have satisfactorily completed FILM 25A or FILM 25B. For further information regarding prerequisites, please see the Major Requirements tab on this page.

Honors Program

To be eligible for admission to the honors program in film, a student must have attained senior standing with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 or higher on all University work and a 3.5 GPA or higher in courses in the major. The levels of honors are as follows: honors, high honors, and highest honors. Students in the honors program are to take FILM H195 for a letter grade to complete a senior honors thesis. Although the production of a film may be part of the preparation of the thesis — and the film may be submitted as a documentation or example — it is expected that the thesis will be a substantial piece of writing on film criticism or film history.

Minor Program

There is no minor program in film.

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Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for graded credit, other than courses listed which are offered on a Pass/No Pass basis only. Other exceptions to this requirement are noted as applicable.
  2. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.

For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Language Requirement

Film majors have two options for completing their language requirement ( this will only apply to students admitted before Fall 2017 ):

  1. Students may complete the third semester of a college-level language course in a single language.
  2. Students may choose to complete the second semester of a college-level language course in two different languages. If a student has taken three or more years of a language in high school, that language can count as one of the two languages. In this case, students are required to only complete the second semester of one additional language.

Language courses which are strictly conversational are not acceptable. Students may enroll in the courses being used to satisfy the film language requirement on a Pass/No Pass basis. Students should be aware that if they are also using the course to satisfy the foreign language requirement, it must be taken on a letter-grade basis. Any natural language is acceptable. Students who are native speakers of a language other than English may demonstrate their language competency by satisfactorily passing a language proficiency exam administered by a language department at UC Berkeley or by taking an advanced course in the language (such as an upper division course which is taught in the language). Students are expected to demonstrate both verbal and written proficiency.

New Requirements beginning Fall 2017 ( All incoming freshman and newly admitted transfers will be held to the new language policy ):

  1. Students may complete the second semester or higher of a college-level language course in one language, which have to be taken at the UC Berkeley Campus (this means French 2, German 2, etc. or higher: French 102 or another upper division course taught in the target language). Students should take a course at the appropriate level. Student with no language background will take the firs and second semester sequence in one language. 
  2. The class must be taken for a letter grade and with minimum of a B- grade or better.  
  3. There will be no waivers or credit given for courses completed in high school or at community college. Film majors have to take at least one language course at UC Berkeley, second-semester level or higher as appropriate to their background, in order to pass the requirement. The requirement cannot be completed at an outside institution (with the exception of UC-approved study abroad programs). This rule also applies for transfer students who took a four- semester sequence at community college, students must enroll in one further language course at Berkeley, preferably an upper division language. course. 
  4. Native speakers of another language may request a waiver by filling in a form with details about their linguistic heritage.

Lower Division Requirements

FILM 20Film and Media Cultures4
FILM 25AThe History of Film4
FILM 25BThe History of Film4

Upper Division Requirements 

FILM 128Documentary4
FILM 129History of Avant-Garde Film4
Select one of the following:4
Special Topics in Film Genre
Auteur Theory
National Cinema
Select 16 units, from upper division film studies course offerings, or from the list of approved electives available every term. 4 units is acceptable as Pass/Not Pass

Student Learning Goals

Learning Goals for the Major

After completing the film major, a student will have a working knowledge of the film-making process from concept to exhibition and will be able to interpret films through a variety of aesthetic, cultural, historical, and theoretical frameworks. The critical thinking skills promoted in the film major involve seeing beyond one’s immediate reactions to a film by developing a repertoire of productive interpretive questions and approaches that lead to more complex understanding and appreciation of the filmic experience. Analytic reasoning is encouraged in both oral and written assignments that require students to perform systematic analysis of film sequences, to construct careful, step-by-step arguments in larger research projects, or to create a coherently constructed film or script. Communication skills are developed through participation in classroom discussions, in the effective writing of critical essays and research papers, and in the articulation of creative ideas through film-making and scriptwriting.

More specifically, the successful graduate from the film major must be able to:

  1. Do a shot-and-sequence analysis both orally in class and in a written form.
  2. Creatively re-edit a sequence from a silent film.
  3. Think beyond the surface impressions of popular films by developing a repertoire of critical questions and approaches that facilitate deeper understanding.
  4. Analyze and write about alternative kinds of moving images (silent, avant-garde, documentary, foreign-language, art films).
  5. Identify the major movements in film history.
  6. Talk and write about how an individual film fits within this history and the mode of production from which it emerges.
  7. Situate the major movements of cinema within a broader socio-historical context.
  8. Describe the major cinematic genres, and analyze an individual film as an example of one or more of these genres.
  9. Summarize the arguments for and against the notion of film authorship, and talk knowledgeably about the work of at least one director.
  10. Describe a number of different theoretical approaches to film.
  11. Utilize this theoretical knowledge when analyzing a film, making a film, and writing a screenplay.
  12. Write essays and papers that are clear, well-researched and organized, and that mount an original argument.
  13. Organize ideas in oral presentations and general classroom discussions.


Film Studies

FILM R1A The Craft of Writing - Film Focus 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017
Rhetorical approach to reading and writing argumentative discourse with a film focus. Close reading of selected texts; written themes developed from class discussion and analysis of rhetorical strategies. Satisfies the first half of the Reading and Composition requirement.

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FILM R1B The Craft of Writing - Film Focus 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Summer 2018 First 6 Week Session, Spring 2018
Intensive argumentative writing stimulated through selected readings, films, and class discussion. Satisfies the second half of the Reading and Composition requirement.

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FILM 20 Film and Media Cultures 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017
This course is intended to introduce undergraduates to the study of a range of media, including photography, film, television, video, and print and digital media. The course will focus on questions of medium "specificity" or the key technological/material, formal and aesthetic features of different media and modes of address and representation that define them. Also considered is the relationship of individual media to time and space
, how individual media construct their audiences or spectators, and the kinds of looking or viewing they enable or encourage. The course will discuss the ideological effects of various media, particularly around questions of racial and sexual difference, national identity, capitalism, and power.
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FILM 25A The History of Film 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017
From the beginnings through the conversion to sound up until World War II era. In addition to the development of the silent film, the course will conclude with an examination of the technology of sound conversion and examples of early sound experiments.

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FILM 25B The History of Film 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017
The sound era from World War II to present time.

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FILM 26 Introduction to Digital Video Production 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2017, Fall 2015
The objective of this class is to provide a basic technical foundation for digital video film production while emphasizing the techniques and languages of creative moving image media from traditional story genres to more contemporary experimental forms. Training will move from pre-production-scripting and storyboarding, through production, including image capture, lighting and sound recording, to post-production with non-linear digital editing
programs such as Final Cut Pro and editing strategies and aesthetics. The course will consist of lectures/screenings, discussion/critique, visiting artists, and production workshops in which students produce a series of exercises and a final project.
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FILM 39 Freshman/Sophomore Seminar 2 Units

Terms offered: Not yet offered
Freshman and sophomore seminars offer lower division students the opportunity to explore an intellectual topic with a faculty member and a group of peers in a small-seminar setting. These seminars are offered in all campus departments; topics vary from department to department and from semester to semester. Enrollment limits are set by the faculty, but the suggested limit is 25.

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FILM 50 Introduction to Film for Nonmajors 4 Units

Terms offered: Summer 2017 Second 6 Week Session, Summer 2016 10 Week Session, Summer 2016 Second 6 Week Session
An introduction to film art and film technique for students who are interested in exploring the history and aesthetics of cinema but do not intend to major in film. The course traces the development of world cinema from the first films of the 1890s to the 1970s, drawing on examples from American, European, Asian, and Third World cinema.

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FILM 75 Postmodernism and Film 3 Units

Terms offered: Prior to 2007
This course examines postmodernism as it manifests itself in film. We will begin with a general overview of the postmodern, and then look at how postmodernism reformulates certain theoretical issues: e.g., ideology, history, subjectivity and gender. Primary films will be juxtaposed not just with theoretical texts, but also with texts from architecture, photography, literature and classical Hollywood cinema. Requirements: take home mid-term, final exam.

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FILM 84 Sophomore Seminar 1 or 2 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2009, Fall 2006
Sophomore seminars are small interactive courses offered by faculty members in departments all across the campus. Sophomore seminars offer opportunity for close, regular intellectual contact between faculty members and students in the crucial second year. The topics vary from department to department and semester to semester. Enrollment limited to 15 sophomores.

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FILM 98 Directed Group Study 1 - 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2014
Supervised research by lower division students.

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FILM 100 History of Film Theory 4 Units

Terms offered: Summer 2015 10 Week Session, Summer 2015 Second 6 Week Session, Fall 2014
The study, from an historical perspective, of major theorists of film.

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FILM 105 Senior Seminar 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2017, Spring 2013, Spring 2009
Intensive study of topics in film and moving-image media.

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FILM 108 Special Topics in Film Genre 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Summer 2018 First 6 Week Session, Summer 2018 Second 6 Week Session
The study of films as categorized either by industry-identified genres (westerns, horror films, musicals, film noir, etc.) or broader interpretive modes (melodrama, realism, fantasy, etc.).

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FILM C115 The American Detective in Fiction, Film, and Television 4 Units

Terms offered: Prior to 2007
This course considers how the American detective is represented in fiction, fil, and popular culture. We will examine how representations of the American detective are affected by diverse historican and socio-cultural factors, including the ideology of American individualism, paradigms of investigation and ordered knowledge, and competing discourses of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. After a brief consideration of early American detectives and detectives
in the classic American hardboiled tradition, we will focus on many detectives from traditionally understudied groups, including female detectives, African American detectives, Chicana detectives, Asian American detectives, Native American detectives, and gay and lesbian detectives. This course may be used as an elective in the American Studies major.
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FILM 128 Documentary 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2018, Fall 2017, Spring 2017
A survey of the history, theory, and practice of the documentary film (including video). How have the forms and ethics of the documentary changed since the beginning of cinema? A range of practices and strategies will be covered: cinema verite, direct cinema, narrational documentary, autobiography, investigative documentary, and recent fictional styles that combine the essayistic with the observational. The course moves between classic works
of the genre as well as highly experimental works that critique traditional approaches. Throughout, the emphasis will be on the formal analysis of the films focusing on their narrative structures and the ways in which they make meaning.
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FILM 129 History of Avant-Garde Film 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2017, Summer 2017 Second 6 Week Session
This course is a survey of the history and aesthetics of the international film Avant-Garde from the 1920s to the present. The course explores the development of a range of experimental film forms and practices, situating them in relation to the larger artistic, social, and intellectual contexts in which they arise. We look at the ways artists have not only created new film languages in order to express their unique ideas
and vision, but also how they inverted alternative modes of production, distribution, and exhibition for their work. We examine the major formal modes of Avant-Garde cinema, moving between historical and current developments.
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FILM 140 Special Topics in Film 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Summer 2018 Second 6 Week Session, Spring 2018
Selected topics in the study of film.

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FILM 151 Auteur Theory 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017
The study of films from the perspective of directorial style, theme, or filmmaking career.

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FILM 160 National Cinema 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2017, Spring 2017
This course will focus on the cinema of a particular nation or region.

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FILM 176 Pitch to Production 3 Units

Terms offered: Summer 2018 First 6 Week Session
Students are introduced to the basic concepts, terms and principles of producing so that they can effectively and efficiently develop their own project proposal and financial strategy. Unit topics include creating a “pitch” proposal/package, methods of fundraising/financing, legal and ethical issues, managing the production cycle, and securing distribution. This class will use a variety of case studies based on Bay Area films. Through these case
studies the class will explore a range of projects and cover the diverse strategies used to produce them. Each week the class will focus on specific project-types. One or more guest speakers (filmmakers and/or industry experts) will hold a Q&A with the instructor and students.

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FILM 177 Entertainment Law 4 Units

Terms offered: Summer 2018 Second 6 Week Session
The practice of entertainment law in the United States lies at the intersection of a number of legal disciplines, among them Constitutional law, tort law, copyright law, and trademark law, and applies those disciplines to the world of entertainment. This course will introduce you to basic principles of those disciplines and their use in entertainment law. The goal of the course is to equip practitioners in film and media with an understanding
of entertainment law sufficient to recognize legal issues that may arise in their practice so as to either avoid problems or find their solutions.
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FILM 178 Film & Media Professions 3 Units

Terms offered: Summer 2018 Second 6 Week Session
This course is designed to acquaint film majors with a variety of professions in and around the Bay Area that are open to those wishing to pursue careers in film and media. A series of ten guest lecturers drawn from these professions will guide students through the opportunities and work experiences available in such fields as studio and independent film production, documentary production for film and television, film curating and archiving,
programming film festivals, creating media content for art museums, and designing educational online content. This will be followed by question-and-answer sessions that give students a chance to interact directly with the speakers and explore specific areas of inquiry.
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FILM 179 Understanding Film Sound 4 Units

Terms offered: Summer 2018 8 Week Session
We explore the use and abuse of sound and its relation to image in cinema. With emphasis on how sound influences our emotional
reactions, we analyze dialogue, music and effects from the perspectives of the writer, the director, and the audience, looking at the
factors that guide and constrain the creative process, as well as how changes in presentation have affected audience response.
Examples are shown from foreign and domestic feature
, documentary and animated films.
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FILM 180 Introduction to Screenwriting 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017
The course explores the art and craft of writing a feature-length, narrative screenplay. Participants present three story ideas to the class, develop one concept into a detailed treatment, and write the first act of the script in professional screenplay form. The focus is on rewriting, with regular presentations of outlines and scripts to fellow writers. The emphasis is on story structure, character development, and screenplay form.

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FILM 181 Screenwriting 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2017, Spring 2017
The course explores the art and craft of writing a feature-length narrative screenplay. Participants begin with a detailed outline of a narrative script and a portion of the script in proper form and develop it into a completed screenplay. The focus is on rewriting, with regular presentations of scenes to fellow writers. Participants also write short scripts and explore alternative story structure. The emphasis is on characterization, scene structure
, visual story telling, dialogue, and creating a unified script. The class culminates with reading of completed scripts.
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FILM 184 Documentary and Nonfiction Film Production 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2018, Spring 2016
This class focuses on practices and techniques of non-fiction digital filmmaking. The class examines important techniques of non-fiction film, such as research and writing for non-fiction, the observational camera, filming in public, the interview, voiceover, working with archival film and other documents, as well as editing techniques - working to find form and structure for non-fiction materials. This class also explores the different modes of the documentary
genre including observational, ethnographic, biographic/historical, agit/prop and activist forms, as well as more expanded approaches essay, poetic, autobiography, and archival forms.
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FILM 185 Narrative Production 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2017, Fall 2015
The essentials of film and video production--camera, sound, lighting, and editing. Drawing on previous study of narrative, documentary, avant-garde film and video, students gain a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between the visual and aural elements of moving-image through hands-on experimentation.

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FILM 186 Advanced Digital Video 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2015, Spring 2013, Fall 2009
This advanced studio course is designed for students who have mastered basic skills and concepts involved in digital video production and are interested in further investigating critical, theoretical, and creative research topics in digital video production.

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FILM 187 Special Topics in Media Production 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Summer 2018 First 6 Week Session, Spring 2018
This course investigates special topics in, and special technologies of, media production: e.g., experimental film, documentary film, digital special effects, etc. This is a hands-on studio course designed for students who have mastered the basics of media production and are ready to pursue more specialized film or video production.

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FILM H195 Film Honors Thesis 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2016, Fall 2015, Spring 2015
Students in the honors program are to take H195 for a letter grade to complete a senior honors thesis. Although the production of a film may be part of the preparation of the thesis and the film submitted as a documentation or example, it is expected that the thesis will be a substantial piece of writing of film criticism or film history.

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FILM 197A Field Study at the Pacific Film Archive 2 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2013
Students will learn about film bibliography and research materials. Interns will get a thorough orientation to the Pacific Film Archive library through introductory lectures and training sessions. Then, for three hours per week, they will help organize materials for inclusion in the clippings files. Interns will gain experience in library organization and film bibliography, as well as a broad knowledge of the kinds of film reviews and criticism
found in a variety of sources.
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FILM 197B Field Studies for Majors 1 - 3 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017
The supervised field program may include experience in a broad range of pre- and post-production film and video production related activities. The student will develop the field experience and its relationship to academic training with a member of the faculty on the Film Advisory Committee. Faculty sponsor and student will establish individual meeting times and academic requirements for acceptable completion of the course. Commitment to at least
nine hours of field work per week.
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FILM 197C Film Curating Internship 2 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2016, Spring 2014, Fall 2013
Experience "behind-the-scenes" at the Pacific Film Archive! Interns will learn about film curating through creating a program of works by UC Berkeley students to present at PFA the following spring semester. Students will solicit films and videos, preview them, and make a final selection as a group. Students will write short analyses of local film exhibition programs and will do projects related to PFA's ongoing exhibition progra
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FILM 198 Directed Group Study 1 - 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017
Group studies of selected topics which vary from year to year. Field shall not coincide with that of any regular course and shall be specific enough to allow students to write an essay based on the study.

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FILM 199 Supervised Independent Study for Advanced Undergraduates 1 - 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2018, Spring 2017, Spring 2016
Reading and conference with the instructor in a field that shall not coincide with that of any regular course and shall be specific enough to enable the student to write an essay based upon his/her study.

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Faculty and Instructors


Weihong Bao, Assistant Professor. Film theory and history, media archaeology, critical theory, visual and performance culture, Chinese language cinema, transnational genre cinema, comparative media history and theory.

Mark Berger, Adjunct Professor. Film studies, film production, film sound.
Research Profile

Mary Ann Doane, Professor. Feminist theory, semiotics, cinema, media, cultural theory, archaeology of media technology, poststructuralism.
Research Profile

Anton Kaes, Professor. Film studies, modern literature, literary and cultural theory, cinema, interdisciplinary and comparative aspects of Weimar culture, contemporary literature and film, literary theory, theory of cultural studies, film history, film theory, history of cinema.
Research Profile

Russell L. Merritt, Adjunct Professor.

Anne Nesbet, Associate Professor. Culture, film studies, Slavic languages, early Soviet culture, Sergei Eisenstein, silent film, Soviet film, GDR history, children's literature & Stalinism, the Soviet Union, American minority movements.
Research Profile

Mark Sandberg, Professor. Silent film, late nineteenth-century visual culture, theater history, comedy, Scandinavian design, serial television, film historiography, Scandinavian film history, Henrik Ibsen, Norwegian literature, Nordic literary history.
Research Profile

Miryam Sas, Professor. Comparative literature, 20th century avant-gardes, Japanese literature, film, theater and dance, contemporary art, critical theory, gender theory.
Research Profile

Jeffrey A. Skoller, Associate Professor. Film history, theory and practice of documentary, avant-garde film, film as art, activist media, Third Cinema., film/video production.
Research Profile

Kristen Whissel, Professor. Cinema and technological change, computer-generated images and contemporary cinema, digital visual effects, the history and theory of special effects, cinema in transition, American film history, silent American cinema, modernity and early cinema.
Research Profile

Damon R. Young, Assistant Professor.


Emily Carpenter, Lecturer.

Eileen M. Jones, Lecturer.

J. Mira Kopell, Lecturer.

Contact Information

Department of Film and Media

7408 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-1415

Fax: 510-642-8881

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Mark Sandberg

6408 Dwinelle Hall

Undergraduate Major Adviser

Blaine Jones

7406 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-3522

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