Many students take on the impressive challenge of double majoring or completing a 4+1 program during their college careers. TAI student Ryan Blitzer has been able to do both in his four years at SMU. Last May, after his third year at SMU, Blitzer completed a BFA in Film & Media Arts. This May, he will be graduating with a Masters degree in Popular Film and Media Studies along with another Bachelors degree in Advertising.
“I will be the first to graduate with a new +1 MA in Popular Film and Media Studies,” Blitzer said. “I actually completed my undergraduate degree in film in 3 years, so I’ll be graduating in 4 years with my Masters degree from SMU. The program focuses on application of techniques and commonalities among different types of film. The classes often help to drive specialization of a study of a certain genre (i.e. horror), and most who graduate with this degree will pursue a Ph.D. in Film. While the program does not have a lot of production, I’ve been able to take electives to satisfy my on-set urges and work 1:1 with professors in the film department. It’s been an awesome experience; I’ve even been able to present in Las Vegas on one of the papers I wrote!”
Blitzer became interested in film in high school when he took a set of classes in TV production, which eventually required him to make short films. From there, he applied to film schools across the country.
“My favorite thing about filmmaking is the ability to connect with people through a medium that people accept readily,” Blitzer said. “The idea that someone could tell a story that truly impacts someone’s life is humbling, and I love that there are so many opportunities to create different types of films.”
Blitzer chose to add an advertising degree later in his college career. Initially viewing the major as a “backup” to a career in film, Blitzer quickly realized that he very much enjoys advertising, especially creating commercials.
“My favorite thing about advertising is that the skills are adaptable to a wide range of applications,” Blitzer said. “Learning to tell stories through one spot or one print ad is very difficult, and when you combine both skill sets [advertising and film] you are able to tell a more cohesive and stronger story that connects with more people.”
During his past four years at SMU, Blitzer has had impactful professors that have helped him realize his goals for the future.
“If I were to pick a mentor in each department, for film, it would be Professor Troy Perkins, and for advertising, it would be Professor Willie Baronet,” Blitzer said. “Their support has driven me to be more acutely creative and accelerate the refinement of skills I’ve learned. They really taught me about the stories behind the pretty pictures, and how to form the stories that can impact the most people emotionally and realistically.”
Post-graduation, Blitzer has accepted a paid internship position with Mary Kay and hopes to eventually move into freelancing. He is currently interning with charlieuniformtango, a commercial product and post-production company located in downtown Dallas.
“My internship with charlieuniformtango [CUT for short] has been phenomenal,” Blitzer said. “CUT is mainly known for post-production; several spots they edited were in the Super Bowl this year. I was able to shadow many of the post-production editors, graphics artists, etc., but my principal duties were in production. I worked with several of the directors and executive producers on sets including the Texas Rangers, Mary Kay, Dr. Pepper and Gamestop. Being in a professional environment allowed me to refine skills and see a slightly different workflow to commercial and short filmmaking than what I was used to. I’ll be able to adapt and use those skills in future freelancing.”