In 2005, the new Film/Media degree was good news to URI students who had been filling seats in Film/Media classes in increasing numbers. From 2000-2005, enrollment has nearly doubled, growing from 245 students to nearly 500. The study of Film/Media was not new to URI. In 1975, URI established a film studies program. As the program expanded, an interdisciplinary film studies minor was initiated in 1993. Technology expanded and interest soared so that today “film studies” has morphed into “Film/Media” and courses are offered by 10 different URI departments in the College of Arts and Sciences and by 15 individuals who teach one or more sections of these courses.
The Film/Media degree was designed to prepare students for careers in film and video production, film and media criticism, the production aspects of advertising, or for careers as independent artists. It also provides graduates with a foundation for careers in computer animation for arts, sciences, and business applications, interactive media, and virtual reality. To prepare students for these escalating career opportunities, the University of Rhode Island started to offer new bachelor’s degree in Film/Media, presented within its wide-ranging technological, artistic, and cultural contexts.
In recognition of the establishment of the degree, Fred Joyal, a 1979 URI alumnus and successful CEO of 1-800-DENTIST, a Los Angeles-based dental referral service company, pledged $100,000 to establish an endowment. Interest from the endowment has provided an annual prize for a promising filmmaker or sceenwriter enrolled in the program. Joyal initiated URI’s annual film festival Visualizations which allowed URI students to compete for prizes in seven categories: film and video, film criticism, and original screenplay. Visualizations was held in 2010. Starting in 2011, Visualizations was replaced with the Joyal Film Prize. Fred Joyal also funds the Film/Media Production Award which awards a Film/Media student who demonstrates talent and promise as a filmmaker/video artist.
“We are delighted to celebrate both the launch of a new major and the endowment established by Fred Joyal,” said Dean Winnie Brownell (College of Arts and Sceinces) in August of 2005. “As a CEO who uses moving images in marketing, he appreciates the need to prepare students for a variety of careers that involve film media. We have already had a number of inquiries from prospective students who wish to enroll in the program this fall.”