Unbundling Masscomm: The Place of Film

by Hyginus Ekwuazi

FILM—that is where the unbundling of Mass Communication has got it wrong!

It has since become common knowledge that Mass Communication is unbundling; and unbundling with urgency. What should equally become common knowledge is that as regards FILM the framers of the unbundling document got everything w-r-o-n-g: WRONG.

Note: there is nothing wrong with the unbundling, per se. The matter is with the FILM complement.

FILM occurs in the document as: Film/Film & Multimedia Studies—a nomenclature that for me signals and encapsulates all that is wrong.

My observations:
• In its own rather peculiar manner, the document integrates two distinct disciplines: FILM and MULTIMEDIA STUDIES. The peculiarity here is a matter of ambiguity. Does the word studies here apply to just Media or to Film also?
• The entirety of courses listed for film cannot in any way deliver the core objectives of the programme—the competences and skills in filmmaking; and the production of industry-ready graduates.
• Film courses are completely absent in Year 1. The total number of units for this level of studies is 32—and not even 1 unit has been allotted to film/film studies.
• Total number of units for Year 2 is 38; and only 13 units are film-related.
• Total number of units for Year 3 is 37; 18 units are film related. The profile here is better—but in the overall context hardly sufficient.
• Total number of units for Year 4 is 33 but only 10 units are film related.
• Out of a grand total of 140 units for the award of the B. Sc. degree in Film & Media Studies, the grand total for the film related courses is 41: less than 30%!
• There is absolutely no awareness in the document of the organic difference between Film STUDIES on one hand and Film PRODUCTION on the other hand.
• This programme cannot deliver film.
• It cannot deliver film studies.
• It can hardly deliver media arts/multimedia studies: on the whole, it has a very narrow definition of what constitutes multimedia studies!
• It is patently obvious that no expert in film production/film studies/multimedia studies was involved in the preparation of this document.

My recommendation:
In the light of the foregoing, the BSc Film and Multimedia Studies as structured into the unbundling of Mass Communication is grossly inadequate.

I find it extremely embarrassing that the framers of the document are patently unaware that the National Universities Commission [NUC] already has a Benchmark Minimum Academic Standard [BMAS] for the BA/BSc Degree programme in Film Production; and in Broadcast Journalism—and that these two documents had since been circulated to the Universities for ventilation.

The NUC BMAS for the BA/BSc Degree in Film Production is everything that the Film/Film & Multimedia Studies Degree in the Mass Communication unbundling document is not.

The NUC BMAS for the BA/BSc Film Production has judiciously integrated the capstone approach; has elaborate provisions for robust workshop practice; and has, on the whole, in a very systemic manner, deposed the teaching of the syntax and grammar of film on the intersection of theory and practice—and underlining theory here is the understanding that nothing is as practical as a good theory. Equally significant: without prejudicing the content, the programme can be domiciled in the arts or in the social sciences.

It should be clear where I have been heading all along—for the avoidance of any doubt my position is this: any university that is desirous for the BA/BSc Degree in Film has by far the best choice in the NUC BMAS.

The film/film & multimedia studies programme as contained in the Mass Communication unbundling document should, without haste, be dumped into the nearest waste paper basket.

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