Film and Theatre Majors Benefit from Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration

Students enrolled in Meadows’ film and theatre programs are given the opportunity to collaborate and enhance one another’s work.

Theatre and film double major Sabina Arcila acts on camera in a student film production.
Theatre and film double major Sabina Arcila (center) on set playing the role of Fina in the student film "Passing" by Itzel QMR.

Over the last few years, the Meadows’ Divisions of Film and Theatre have been developing a unique partnership that mutually benefits students in both programs. The two disciplines naturally overlap in both needs and skillsets, with film students getting a hands-on learning opportunity in directing and producing and theatre students getting experience in front of a camera, rather than just on stage. 

The divisions kicked off potential collaborations this year with a Meet & Greet event, something that has been successful in the past, where film and theatre students could socialize in an informal setting and start to build a foundation for future projects. The event first aimed to develop interpersonal skills with a practical focus. With students meeting first as humans, rather than potential collaborators, it allows them to get to know each other and form relationships prior to working on projects together. For those interested, the event culminated in a “Frantic Assembly” exercise in which students had the opportunity to create short experimental films that provided an experience collaborating with trained directors and actors. And the Meet & Greet event was just the beginning.

“Moving forward, students will be supported in developing and collaborating on short films and building reels and other footage which they can take into the professional world,” explains Reiko Aylesworth, the theatre professor who has helped build this new partnership between divisions along with film professor Michelle Glasby-Millington. “There's a unique opportunity within universities to build collaborations that could last and grow beyond graduation and into their careers.”

These collaborations are a true win-win scenario for students of both divisions. Theatre majors are getting content for their reels, to utilize now and post-graduation, and the film majors are learning how to communicate and work with trained actors. With Meadows having a high concentration of students enrolled in two or more majors, it’s no surprise that these two artistic endeavors have students that overlap. As a double-major in both film and theatre, senior Sabina Arcila recognizes the benefits of such a collaboration.

“I thought the networking was super helpful, especially to the film students, who are always looking for actors to cast in their films,” says Arcila, who attended the Meet & Greet in October. “The industry is moving more and more towards multi-hyphenated artists, so the more you know, the more opportunities you are able to take.”

Theatre and film double major Rhett Goldman acts on screen in a student-produced film.
Theatre and film double major Rhett Goldman (right) acts with alum Mace Cowart in a student-produced film on campus. 

Though both film and theatre are visual mediums and can crossover artistically, both in training and in the industries in the real world, the work and learning that goes into each can be quite different. Senior Rhett Goldman, another student double-majoring in both film and theatre, understands the unique skillsets needed for each craft and how they can be utilized to benefit both disciplines.

“I think that the majors feed into each other constantly,” Goldman says. “The training I've gotten through the theatre program has really helped me in my ability to speak the same language as actors and get them to where they need to go when directing films, whereas my training in film has helped me better understand what makes a good camera performance and how to take the largeness and boldness of an effective theatre performance and put it in a container that will read on camera.”

The ability to be able to pursue multiple passions, like film and theatre, at the same time is what sets SMU and Meadows apart from other schools. Ultimately, the collaboration between the Divisions of Film and Theatre not only provides students opportunities to help one another with assigned projects and potential professional endeavors, but the networking and development of relationships among fellow students will serve them well in their Meadows education and beyond.