RTA Student on quest for film course

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By Allan Woods

Support for sought-after instruction vanishes after six month campaign.A Ryerson student trying to gain entrance to a discontinued film course for herself and her classmates may have finally got her wish.

But it may come at a greater than usual expense to Ryerson’s radio and television arts program because fewer students selected the intensive and costly course than originally expressed interest last year, said Robert Gardner, the program’s chair.

Ever since Erin Jackson arrived at Ryerson as an RTA student three years ago she had her eye set on taking PTF 350, a film class offered by the school of image arts.

The class, which is an option in the third-year RTA curriculum, gives students the chance to create and produce a short film. The course description warns students of $220 to $500 in extra costs for film and developing costs, as well as more than 70 hours of work on top of class.

But it gives students the chance to show their artistic side and work with more creative instructors, said Jackson, now in her third year of the program.

“[InRTA], it’s like we’re being trained to work at CityTV,” Jackson said in an interview. “It’s like: What does Moses [Znaimer] want?”

So when she tried to select the film course toward the end of last year, she was disappointed to find it wasn’t being offered.

“I noticed on the course selection sheet that it wasn’t available so I lobbied to get it back,” she said.

Gardner told her she had to round up 20 students – the minimum necessary to run a course – and present a petition to him before he would consider her plea.

“I did a lot of getting up in front of large classes,” she said. For a month and a half at the end of last year, Jackson continued her “quest” to have the course reinstated and, with 22 signatures, she eventually won.

“I went so far as to make a commitment,” Gardner said. “The fact of the matter is that [with 20 signatures] we have to run it.”

Over the summer though, it seems interest declined: Only as many as 10 students registered for the course.

“We don’t know at this point if those people misunderstood to process and are going to take it,” Gardner said. Jackson thinks that, over the summer, students reconsidered taking the course because of the extra money they might have to spend.

“What people don’t think about is that, if youwant to take a film course after university, it’s going to cost thousands of dollars,” a disappointed Jackson said.

In any event, Gardner, who has already committed the RTA dollars to offering the program, said it may be too late to back out.

The university has already hired a professor for the course.

“We’re stuck with it,” he said. “My hope is that the people who make the commitment will honour it.”

Jackson said she and a few other students area still trying to drum up support for the course, which is slotted for the winter semester.

“The situation right now is really uncertain,” she said. “It’s very disappointing. I’ve been looking forward to this since coming to Ryerson.”

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