Flagler students to work alongside professional filmmakers with the launch of a Cinematic Arts major

Jim Gilmore with student
February 3, 2023
By Elisabeth Shirley
A new interdisciplinary Cinematic Arts major at Flagler College will let aspiring filmmakers get involved with all elements of narrative and feature filmmaking in a program designed to model a realistic professional film environment.

“As a freshman, you'll be playing with the toys, you'll be using the equipment, you'll be using the cameras, and you'll get immediate access,” Program Coordinator and Communication Professor, Tracy Halcomb said. “Whereas I think it would take you maybe two to three years be at a larger school before you get that kind of hands-on experience.” 

Whether you’re a writer or a video producer, Halcomb and Visiting Filmmaker Jim Gilmore have worked together to create an interdisciplinary program designed to cater to multiple student interests as part of Flagler College’s academic strategic plan.

“We’re giving students a broad foundation of academic experiences, many of them very applied,” Halcomb said. “I think it’s very unique in that every department in our school of Creative Arts and Letters is represented in the major.” 

The program is modeled after universities with more established cinematic arts programs to give students hands-on experience working with professionals. They’ll be in the field, collaborating on projects aimed to be distributed nationally, setting this program apart as a networking opportunity for students.  

“One of the challenges was figuring out how to create a cinematic arts program in a smaller liberal arts college,” Gilmore said. “There's this really cool idea for professional connection to keep generating creative products out of this program, and out of all the different departments in the school.”

The first project the program will collaborate on is a film about Fort Mose Historic State Park, the site of the first legally sanctioned free African settlement. Students will be involved from the get-go with pre-production and maintain involvement throughout the entire process of the film.

“We think employers will be able to look at that and say, okay you've got an idea of how this all works,” said Gilmore. “When I taught here just within the department, we were teaching students how to make short personal films, but we never really had the time to connect all the dots to make a big thing.” 

Gilmore said the idea behind this Cinematic Arts program is that it will continue to attract filmmakers seeking collaboration.

“Most undergraduates don't work on any kind of feature length, or even significantly long film in their undergraduate career,” Gilmore said. “And saying, is there a way we can bring that to our undergraduates here at Flagler, and there is.”

Halcomb said this program is also a great complimentary minor or major for anyone looking to broaden their horizons. Gilmore said students will be able to work with cameras and professional equipment right off the bat without needing a lot of prerequisites. 

“We've tried to design it so that someone coming from theater, or the arts or creative writing, would be able to get familiar and comfortable with it really quickly without having to take a bunch of technical classes to have that expertise,” Gilmore said. 

Halcomb and Gilmore have been working together for years prior to this program, even after Gilmore moved to work at the University of Michigan, they continued to collaborate on academic conferences and multi-year projects. Their documentary “Cracking Aces,” explores the world of professional women poker players and was featured in multiple film festivals.

Halcomb said she hopes that students will use this class as an opportunity to help create high-caliber work they’re proud of.  

“I hope that they would feel as though – and they would have a portfolio that would help support their belief – that they are a very creative storyteller,” Halcomb said.