Non-majors take advantage of on-campus film scene

Los Angeles is one of the leading film capitals worldwide, so it is fitting that USC School of Cinematic Arts is one of the most highly ranked and prestigious film schools in the world.

Iconic professor · Drew Casper, a celebrity in the cinema school, gives an in-depth lecture on film in CTCS 190, an intro to cinema course. – Eddie Kim | Daily Trojan

But SCA is not restricted to the George Lucases and Judd Apatows in the making. Between classes, screenings and special events, students have multifarious on-campus opportunities to explore the world of film.

Most importantly, these perks are available to cinema and non-cinema students alike, providing everyone with the chance to delve into one of the greatest cinematic resources in the nation.

For hardcore involvement, SCA classes are inherently meant for students who have a strong, academic interest in film. Many of the courses offered have the worthwhile professors or screenings to compensate for the 15-week time commitment.

The best part: Film electives are typically not exclusive to SCA students, so even the biology major with a passion for Hitchcock films can pursue his or her interest in the great film auteur.

Turns out Hitchcock enthusiasts are in luck — Film and/or Television Style Analysis (CTCS 469), taught by Professor Drew Casper, examines the great director’s individual style and will screen many of his classic films, including Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho.

To his credit, Casper — who holds a wealth of cinematic knowledge — steals the show with his passion for film and exuberant theatricality, which freshmen taking CTCS 190 will discover soon enough.

There’s also Theatrical Film Symposium (CTCS 466) taught by notable film critic Leonard Maltin. The course is one of the longest-running at USC and offers exclusive advanced screenings of highly anticipated films. Screenings include special guest speakers, including but not limited to directors, writers, actors, cinematographers and so forth. Alexander Payne and Jason Segel are just two of many to offer their input, so be sure to take the class in the fall when Oscar contenders will be screened.

But as mentioned before, classes are a big commitment, so students on an academic time crunch should check out SCA’s screenings and special events.

SCA advertises Outside the Box Office and the Alumni Screening Series, which are advanced screening series that show off a variety of works, ranging from independent to documentary to big-budget films. The former is a weekly showcase of upcoming films, while the latter shows off films from SCA alumni.

Though Outside the Box Office and the Alumni Screening Series appeal to a mélange of tastes and are open to all students, the two screening series seem to mostly be reaching the SCA community.

“There’s still the sense that this is a best kept secret on campus, even though the screenings are usually packed,” said SCA’s Director of Programming and Special Projects, Alessandro Ago.

With countless opportunities to view diverse upcoming films, there’s no reason why every student can’t partake in USC’s very own celebration of film. And the same goes for special events.

SCA often works with Visions and Voices to host speakers and put on festivals, events which are — you guessed it — open to everyone. Last November, SCA and Visions and Voices brought in eccentric Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar to discuss his work and career. And the year before, SCA, The Arab Film Festival and Visions and Voices put on a contemporary Middle Eastern film festival.

Though much of the upcoming fall calendar has yet to be confirmed, students can expect advanced film screenings, as always, and notable guest speakers such as Leslie Moonves, President and CEO of CBS Corporation and Ron Meyer, President and COO of NBC Universal Studios.

Additionally, SCA and Visions and Voices will celebrate “Nikkatsu at 100.” The three-day event will feature screenings and discussions with filmmakers, scholars and critics to honor the centennial of Nikkatsu, the highly esteemed Japanese film company.

The classes, screenings and events are all here for the taking, and SCA wants everyone to be involved.

“I really want the university at large to participate in [screenings and events] because it’s not just something that we do for the cinema school; it’s something that we do for the whole university,” Ago said.

And with so many available resources, there’s no reason why every USC student can’t celebrate their love of film.


To sign up for SCA’s mailing list for upcoming screenings and events, email the word “subscribe” to