Technology Management: Communicating a View of the World through Film and Digital Media
When most people think about the graduate program at the EIU School of Technology, they might assume that a student would have an undergraduate degree in engineering, math or science. Although that may be true for many graduate students in the School of Technology, Matt Devall is an exception.
Matt graduated from EIU in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film and Digital Media Production. As an undergraduate student, he worked in the EIU Center for Academic Technology Support (CATS) department, fulfilling his high school dreams of working with equipment that would enable him to make films. An avid reader and writer, Matt writes scripts and short stories to develop into films.
Creating films was not new to Matt when he started his undergraduate work at EIU. While attending Effingham High School, Matt and a friend made two short films and entered them in the Effingham Film Festival. One of the films won the People’s Choice Award, and the other was selected to be shown at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival.
During summer break before starting his undergraduate studies at EIU, Matt attended a MediaBridge program in Chicago where his film was shown at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival. That is where he met artists and filmmakers from around the world, including India, Nepal, Spain and Russia. He stayed in contact with two filmmakers from Russia. After graduation he joined them in Paris, France for a week. That’s when he realized his passion for artistic expression. “A lot of people think that making art is a creation process. In reality it is a discovery process. Stories spring up inside of us, and depending on whether or not you choose to grab them and make them a story or not is up to the artist.”
Before traveling to Paris, Matt decided to pursue graduate studies in film, so he spoke to Pete Grant in the EIU CATS department about a possible graduate assistant position. However, when he returned from Paris, he was faced with deciding which graduate program would be best for film and digital media production. He wanted to learn more than theory; he wanted hands-on experience. After Mr. Grant suggested the School of Technology, Matt set up an appointment with Peter Ping Liu, PhD., Professor and Coordinator of Graduate Study School of Technology, to see if the Technology graduate program would support his goals. At first, Matt was concerned that the program would focus exclusively on math and science, but after speaking with Dr. Peter Ping Liu, he realized that much of the Technology graduate program focused on management. Matt concluded that even in filmmaking, no matter what role he plays---directing, writing, or filming---management skills will be required.
Matt found that the Technology graduate program was a perfect match. Matt states, “The most favorable aspect of the Technology program is that if you decide to be responsible for what you want to learn and work with the faculty, they will work with you to facilitate your approach and support your goals. The program allows the student to be decisive and responsible for learning rather than receiving information and applying it to established criteria. I have found that the program is flexible enough to help graduate students reach their goals, even for someone like me, who wants to make films.”
Currently, Matt is working on an independent study project with the Douglas-Hart Nature Center in Mattoon, Illinois to reclaim the land so that it appears as it would naturally and how this issue relates to sustainable development overall.
Next year, Matt will complete the graduate program. He has cast a wide net and is open to opportunities ranging from teaching in Russia to making training videos in Nepal. Most of all, he wants to make films that communicate something substantive. His passion is about communicating how he sees the world, so that can be shown to others through film and digital media. The EIU School of Technology is helping make that to happen.
Connie Buchenroth - School of Technology, EIU
Matt Devall is a graduate student in Technology studying Film and Digital Media Production. Also, he is a graduate assistant in the EIU Center for Academic Technology Support (CATS). Matt is currently working on an independent study project with the Douglas-Hart Nature Center to reclaim the land so that it appears as it would naturally, and how this issue relates to sustainable development.