Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

New degree prepares students to craft compelling stories through new technology

Story by James Hill. Photos by Seth Bloombaum.

A class at the Cascade Campus lab.

A class at the Cascade Campus video production studio.

A new associate degree program at Portland Community College aims to satisfy an industry’s need for a qualified and diverse workforce.

The new PCC video production and emerging media degree prepares students to craft compelling stories using established and emerging video technologies. In a hands-on, project-based environment, students learn skills for employment and leadership. The career-technical education program also provides on-campus or remote/online classes.

“Our program prepares graduates for entry-level employment in the film and related industries and satisfies a major need for the local video production industry,” said Seth Bloombaum, video production instructor. “Once employed, our graduates have continuing opportunities for updating their skills and advancement in our region’s fast-moving film and video industries.” 

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The Strategic Plan: Workforce
  • The 2020-2025 Strategic Plan prepares the college for the future of higher education. With its commitment to developing local industries like health care, the college responds to community and industry needs by developing the region’s workforce.

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of broadcast, sound and video technicians is projected to grow 21% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. This includes 16% for special effects artists and animators and 29% for film and video editors and camera operators. The Oregon Employment Department shows growth in employment in motion picture and video production of approximately 90% and growth in wages of 126% over the last 10 years (excluding 2020 industry lockdown due to pandemic).

PCC wasn’t alone in creating this program. Many of the major players in film have advised on the curriculum. These companies include Hinge (studio/producer), Bent Image Lab (studio/producer), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (Local 488), Picture This Production Services, LAIKA Studio  (studio/producer), Kamp Grizzly (studio/producer) and OregonFilm (Governor’s Office for Film and Video).

“For years, PCC has been one of our most valuable tools for training and inspiring new talent into the growing film and media sectors of Oregon,” said Tim Williams, executive director of Oregon Film. “With this new curriculum PCC takes another great step forward towards ensuring that our industry will have the trained talent needed to continue this state’s long history of creative storytelling.”

A big part of the degree is advancing equity and inclusion by broadening access to media technologies for under-represented students as well as showing students how to develop more inclusive methods of storytelling. In the end, this effort will produce more diverse graduates and equitable stories and productions.

“Diversifying the workforce is very important in film, video and the creative industries as it impacts the livelihood of those seeking careers in the industry and helps reflect a diversity of experience in the stories we tell.” added Bloombaum.

Setting up the shot

Staff member Kevin Forrest (left) sets the scene for students.

Dallas Brown graduated in 2019 with a degree in video production and soon found work in the film and television industry in the Portland area. She has worked as a production assistant, location scout and location manager on productions such as the Netflix series “Trinkets: Season 2,” the independent feature film “Who Are You People” and HBO’s “Wondermill,” to name a few. 

“As a woman in the film and television industry, I am excited about this new degree,” Brown said. “Its courses focus on diversity, equity and inclusion along with providing students with valuable hands-on skill sets for the industry, whether you’re looking to get into productions, or freelance videography.”

The video production and emerging media degree offers plenty of hands-on learning opportunities for its students. Instructors guide them in developing skills with professional-level cameras, lighting equipment, sound recording gear, software and editing systems. In addition to conventional cameras, students train on 360-degree and drone-based cameras. Graduates can find work as videographers, directors, camera operators, cinematographers, production assistants, editors, lighting technicians and more.

The degree is offered within the college’s Multimedia Program. For more information, visit https://www.pcc.edu/programs/multimedia/, or call 971-722-5332.

Cascade lab.

Forrest guides students at the Cascade Campus studio lab.