University of Calgary

Film studies

Lights…camera…graduation!

First cohort of C&C’s film studies program ready to take on the movie world

Sara Windsor and Matthew Bigg have aspirations to work in Alberta’s film industry. / Photo: Ken Bendiktsen

Sara Windsor and Matthew Bigg have aspirations to work in Alberta’s film industry. / Photo: Ken Bendiktsen
By Jennifer Myers

What does one do with a degree in film studies? Ask Sarah Windsor or Matt Bigg—two fourth-year communication and culture students who know firsthand.

Although Windsor will be one of the film program’s first-ever graduates this spring, her resume is already chock-a-bloc with course-related activities, part-time work and volunteer experience. When classes are out, she is serious about making it in Alberta’s burgeoning film industry.

With a foundation in shooting and editing films, which she picked up in high school, Windsor makes her own films for class assignments, using her new understanding of audience reception, new film technologies and the theories and history of filmmaking.

“I had never looked at the way a city is represented when watching a film before, or considered how important the filmmaker is in telling a story,” says Windsor of a class on urbanity in film and another in which she screened four versions of the classic story of Dracula.

Bigg, who will graduate with Windsor, says he’s learned what it takes to make a film great. He studied Akira Kurosawa, one of the most prolific and internationally known of Japanese filmmakers, for his directed-study research.

“No other Japanese filmmaker has pushed their films outside the country like Kurosawa has,” says Bigg. “His film Seven Samurai spawned the remake Magnificent Seven, and Hidden Fortress was a big influence on the Star Wars series. I’m interested in how he brings his own life into his films and what makes them masterpieces.”

George Melnyk, coordinator of film studies, says many students arrive wanting to make films, but like Windsor and Bigg they leave with a broad understanding of what film and the industry are about.

Windsor has applied her learning at the Foothills Medical Research Centre making medical education films and is the multi-media designer for an upcoming production of a play called the Laramie Project. Both Windsor and Bigg have also worked for major movie distributors as marketing representatives at film screenings in Calgary.

As they finish up their final semester, both students have aspirations to work in Alberta’s film industry and hope to write screen plays. As a starting point, they will have an opportunity to enter submissions in the student-run film festival Show Us Your Shorts, later this spring.