Letter From the Executive Director: Film School

Long ago, when Ronald Reagan was president and I was a UT senior cruising toward graduation and dreaming of a cushy first job on Wall Street, I hit a bit of a stumbling block. My memory isn’t the best, but in 1985, there was some kind of change in the number of credits one needed to get an undergraduate degree from The University of Texas.  

Suddenly my buddies and I—who were very much afflicted with Senioritis and already measuring ourselves for caps and gowns—would need to pass an additional course with a strong writing component. Our collective moan of, Are you kidding me? drowned out the sound of the Tower bells that day. And we were not alone. As hundreds of seniors were let loose into the course catalog, and there were barely enough classes or professors to go around, I managed to elbow my way into what I saw as the only viable option: a film class. 

Before I entered that classroom for the first time, films were just movies, and I had never given a passing thought to the effort that went into making them. Maybe I had pondered how they pulled off a stunt or two when I saw the original Rocky at the Dobie, but that was the beginning and end of my intellectual study. I’d certainly never written about a film.  

However, to my great surprise, I got a lot out of that course. We, like the students featured in “Hitchcock Presents,” watched a bunch of Hitchcock movies. I was aware of them of course, and I’m sure I’d seen Psycho, but now, under the tutelage of a film scholar, I was contemplating the meaning of shadows and camera angles. Pauses were pregnant. Symbolism was everywhere! I remember watching Rear Window and being riveted in a completely new way.  

The course offered a glimpse inside a UT experience completely unlike my own; a different life path. We broke into small groups, and I made a bunch of new friends who were nothing like me. And I realized students across campus were spending their college days like this. Checking out movies and watching them in a little stall in the library. Debating the merits of a scene. Picking apart a piece of dialogue. Writing essays about them. It was something I would never have been exposed to had it not been for that stray credit.  

Looking back, I can say that just one course changed the way I watch movies forever. I’ll never be an arthouse movie guy, but I recognize the filmmaking now and the effort that goes into a scene. The experiences we have in college stick with us this way. Before, I was eating popcorn and zoning out—and now I see those dang shadows everywhere.  

Hook ’em,  

Chuck Harris, BBA ’86, Life Member 

Executive Director & CEO, the Texas Exes 


CREDIT: Shutterstock


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment