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In Its New Home, Film & Television Arts is Among the Fastest-Growing Programs at Boise State

By Harrison Berry

In mid-2020, Boise State University’s Film and Television Arts program — one of the fastest-growing programs on campus — moved to its new home in Pioneer Hall. That has been a huge boon to the program’s crown jewel, the Narrative Television Initiative (NTVI), which is in the midst of a multi-semester project to produce a three-episode television series. 

“It’s amazing. We built a set there,” said Associate Professor Ryan Cannon, who has spearheaded NTVI since 2016. “It’s one of the characters’ bedrooms, and later, it’s going to be a studio apartment.” 

The Narrative Television Initiative, part of Boise State's Film and Television Arts program, screened its project And Beyond at The Egyptian Theatre in 2018.
The Narrative Television Initiative, part of Boise State’s Film and Television Arts program, screened its project And Beyond at The Egyptian Theatre in 2018.

Boise State’s Film and Television Arts program has been popular with students. Faculty expected enrollment to be approximately 50 students in 2020. Instead, more than twice that signed up for classes to study everything from writing for the screen, production, cinematography and more.

The Pioneer Hall facility has helped the program accommodate the influx of students. It has also been a staging ground for NTVI. The current production is a three-part miniseries entitled The Chinese Tourist, which is about a Chinese foreign exchange student named Jade navigating her last semester in college and personal difficulties in her home country. The production will expose participants to every aspect of making a film or television show and give them valuable experience. It’s part of what drew first-year student and Film & TV Marketing major Ashley Hackett into the program.

“I really liked being behind the camera and doing film stuff, and when I visited Boise State during Bronco Day, I looked at their film program and just fell in love,” she said.

For others, like third-year student Elijah Anderson, it’s a gateway to their future plans. Anderson already has a degree in music from Boise State, and joining NTVI as the second assistant director and production assistant will give him valuable skills and knowledge. 

“I’m planning on making something happen here in Idaho in terms of film,” he said. “That’s what I’m planning to do with my degrees — just sort of become that guy who’s a musician, but also a filmmaker as well.”

Participants in previous NTVI productions have already gone on to professional success. As the Film & Television Arts program has grown, so have its needs, and Cannon has called for additional staff to mirror the administration of Boise State’s non-academic media service, University Television Productions. With growth also comes a need for additional funding for development expenses like auditions, rehearsals, pre-production, production design, and post-production work. 

“Directing the Narrative Television Initiative through pre-production and production easily doubles faculty workload,” Cannon said. “We could do this better with more support.” 

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