Thursday, January 4, 2024

UTSA’s film and media program is creating a growing environment for filmmakers

UTSA’s film and media program is creating a growing environment for filmmakers

Entertainment and Film Club member Alyssa Garcia writes a plot for a pitch meeting.

FEBRUARY 13, 2023 — UTSA’s Film and Media Studies program, which is now in its second semester, is gaining a lot of attention from budding filmmakers and career professionals.

“The program’s grown in enrollment and future interest,” said Paul Ardoin, associate professor of humanities in the UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts and director of the program. “Last I heard in December, there are already about 277 applications to our film program for fall 2023.”  

Film and Media Studies is one of four new options within the B.A. in Multidisciplinary Studies introduced by University College last fall. There are currently 92 students enrolled in the program, which offers courses in screenwriting, digital media production, film history, the role of race and gender in film, music and film and politics in film.

“There is so much interest and excitement for this program; it’s great to be a part of it.” 

Entertainment and Film Club Officer Darrius Lacy leads a small group discussion on screenplay format and plot diagrams.

Ardoin said the creation of this kind of program was overdue, and people are attracted to it partially because of pent-up demand and interest, and because of what the program has been able to produce.

So far, students have participated in Zoom talks and workshops with filmmakers associated with “Bojack Horseman,” “Selena: The Series,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Major League II,” “Bel Canto” and the Nickelodeon writers’ program, to name a few.

“COLFA and the University College bring in a lot of visiting speakers for students and promote the program to the community,” he said.

Jude Okpala, professor of instruction in the classics and humanities program, offered a fall course on Nigeria’s film industry, often called Nollywood – the first of its kind in Texas, and a partnership with Santikos Palladium is giving students each semester the opportunity to showcase their work publicly.

A series of in-person or remote talks and workshops are lined up this semester with filmmakers from well-known projects such as “BlacKkKlansman,” “Gravity Falls,” “Fuller House,” “Ice Age” and the Spider-Verse. John Herrera, writer and producer of The Handmaid’s Tale, is teaching screenwriting courses, and is one of four Hollywood writers who will participate in UTSA’s upcoming Screenwriters Spring Break.

Along with Herrera, Ardoin said COLFA is flying in Raymond Arturo Perez, Jorge Ramirez-Martinez and Nina Fiore, who will lead a small group of students in planning a season for a television show. The spring break event is scheduled for March 15-16 at the UTSA Southwest Campus and will include students from Northwest Vista College, a couple of local high schools and a community art organization.

“We filled up before we started accepting applications,” Ardoin said. “I mentioned to people they could preregister in one email, and I never got a chance to put together a flier for it. We filled 35 slots before we opened registration, and we already have 20 people on the waiting list.”

Built as a multidisciplinary program, UTSA Film and Media students are taking courses within all nine departments in COLFA and are getting creative with their collaborations.

Artist and documentarian Guillermina Zabala Suárez, who also came on board as a professor of practice in the Department of Philosophy and Classics this semester, has teamed up with UTSA’s medical humanities program for her course, Film and Medicine.

“There’s a really good combination in this class with students from two very different programs coming together to work in production teams to produce documentary shorts about health issues they care about,” Zabala Suárez said. “They are learning from doctors, nurses, experts and patients to find out what’s going on in terms of health and medicine from a community perspective. I am very excited to see the outcomes.”

⇒ Learn more about UTSA’s Film and Media Program and about earning a Multidisciplinary Studies degree.

Zabala Suárez, who is also teaching a digital video production course, said she sees the growth the Film and Media Studies program is showing and knows there is potential for more great things to come.

“The students are so interested, not just in learning, practicing and producing, but they also really like building a community of media-makers, filmmakers and artists,” she said. “There is so much interest and excitement for this program; it’s great to be a part of it.”

Michelle Gaitan

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
the official news source
of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Send your feedback to

UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.




University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education .

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to promoting access for all. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.