Weber State’s blossoming film studies program creating opportunities for students passionate about film

OGDEN, Utah — As Utah celebrates 100 years of filmmaking this year, the demand for professionals in the industry continues to grow, as does enrollment into Weber State University’s film studies program.

When the program first launched in 2019, only four students were enrolled. Less than five years later, the program has flourished, reaching 85 students in Fall 2023. 

“Everyone has a story to tell,” said Andrea Baltazar, director of the film studies program. “What I love about this industry and art form is that we can create worlds from nothing.” 

The film studies program prepares students for careers in the film industry, providing access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, and teaching essential film history, theory and concepts. It also gives them a chance to build their portfolios and showcase their work in professional settings.

A study from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute found that $477 million in direct tax revenue was collected from Utah’s cultural industry, which includes film. Baltazar said Weber State is preparing graduates to enter a booming industry with a wide range of career opportunities. Students in Weber State's film studies program adjust professional cameras for an event.

“It's empowering to be in an environment that’s filled with students and professors who are all passionate about film,” said Payton Schreiber-Pan, film studies student at WSU. “Producing work in that setting is really big because you’re continuously thinking about film in a different way.”

The film studies program offers unique opportunities outside the classroom through Weber State’s partnerships with the Utah Film Commission, which oversees productions and funds projects around the state. The Utah Film Commission provides internship and apprenticeship positions, along with certification courses. 

“We make sure students come out of this program with the experience to feel confident stepping onto a film set or attending graduate school,” Baltazar said.

Among the program’s many hands-on experiences this year, the Sundance Film Festival was a student favorite, giving them a chance to volunteer at the festival and watch the films. 

This year, WSU students also produced their own documentary for Peery’s Egyptian Theater’s 100th anniversary. The film focused on the history of the theater and film in Ogden. 

Baltazar said she encourages film studies students to submit projects they create to local, national and international film festivals for review, including the Utah Film Commission’s new festival, FOCUS on the fUTure

Students are also sharing their passion for film on campus. The Weber Advisory Team for Innovative Film is a club for students interested in filmmaking. This year, they organized their first international film festival that was attended by over 100 people. 

Schreiber-Pan said he’s impressed by the film studies program and excited about the opportunities available in the industry he’s passionate about. 

“I’ve been told that people who study film end up having a hard time getting a job, but having stepped into this environment, I couldn’t disagree more,” he said. “There are so many opportunities, especially in a world where digital media is growing super rapidly. If you’re passionate about film, then go for it.” 


Erika Gonzalez Lara, Marketing & Communications 


Bryan Magaña, public relations director