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August 4, 2008 | by  | in News |
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Draft report recommends film revamp

The retention of the film programme and the establishment of a Centre for New Cinema at Victoria University were amongst the recommendations of the Film Working Party in a draft report, released late last month.

The Working Party’s report recommends strengthening the current film programme and retaining the current academic staffing levels. However, as a precondition for establishing the Centre for New Cinema and concurrent Master of Cinema Arts, the “poor interpersonal relationships” within the film programme must be resolved, the draft report states.

The Working Party was formed earlier this year in response to the feedback that was received following the release of a change proposal which would have seen the film programme significantly downscaled. Practical elements of the programme were to be cut under the proposal, as were staff numbers.

While the University has previously taken steps to resolve issues, the Party’s report concludes that for the film programme to meet expectations, “effective leadership and a clear direction must be provided as a matter of urgency.” This involves the appointment of a Programme Director at professorial level as soon as possible.

The Working Party highlights the setbacks for the film programme resulting from a lack of leadership. The programme has been characterised in the draft report as “dysfunctional”, with limited co-operation amongst staff and little integration of academic content across courses.

Other recommendations in the draft report include a strengthened compulsory core of papers at undergraduate level and the retention of practical and production courses, as well as a “stronger interdisciplinary focus” and greater links with other disciplines, including Digital Media.

Programme Director of Digital Media Design Marcia Lyons said Digital Media offers a “complimentary approach” to the Film Programme. “Our focus is on interactivity. Dynamic forms that express meaningful data, locative media that can broaden future storytelling and new forms of broadcasting and online experimentation,” she said.

Partnership between Digital Media, Film, Media Studies and other disciplines including Computer Science and Theatre will make Victoria “the place to come to develop New Zealand’s new film, TV, media and performance industries,” Ms Lyons said.

Current film student Costas Thrasyvoulou has reservations about some of the draft report’s recommendations. “I’m wary of change that forces itself to draw links with other schools, though aspects of Digital Media Design and film overlap they are often very different and tailoring a course that would operate well I think will prove extremely difficult.”

Postgraduate student Brannavan Gnanalingam said the draft report was much more thought through and positive than previous proposals. “In theory, some of the ideas seem really promising and could work really well if funded and supported properly.”

Gnanalingham does have concerns about potential job cuts, but said: “The proposal as an academic idea does seem to have considerable potential.”

The deadline for feedback on the draft report is 5pm today. Pro Vice-Chancellor Deborah Willis said the draft report had been given to staff in the film programme, AUS and VUWSA for comment.

Students were notified that they could collect a copy of the report and were invited to a meeting with the head of the Working Party, Professor Barrie Macdonald.

“A small number of draft reports have been collected by students,” Ms Willis said. She added that last week Professor Macdonald met with students who attended the meeting to get their feedback on the draft report.

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