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Mark Berrettini
Mark Berrettini

Critical Eye

Perceiving the many facets of film

Film is equal parts art, technical wizardry, and big business. It’s an industry that employs a cast of thousands. Mark Berrettini is head of Portland State’s film program, which offers one of the fastest-growing majors on campus. He helps students understand the nuances of the film industry – its history, its many genres, and the art of screen writing.

Growing up in the small town of Dixon, IL, Mark Berrettini watched whatever movies he could, whether from the town's single-screen theater or the VCR tapes available at the local appliance store. Over time, a film buff was born.

Berrettini wanted to be a writer when he headed off to Notre Dame after high school, not knowing that "film studies" was something you could actually major in. But after taking his first introductory film class, he discovered his true calling.

He is now the head of Portland State’s film program, which has one of the fastest-growing majors at the University. From just a handful of majors when it started in 2007, the program now has more than 300 and has graduated over 100. Students have found work opportunities with locally filmed shows such as Portlandia, Leverage, and The Real World: Portland. Graduates are working and studying throughout the country in fields as widely ranging as city permitting and costume design.

"If you think about a film shoot, it’s like a microcosm of a corporation. You have an accounting department, production staff, creative people – a whole mixture," Berrettini says.

Studying film has value in unexpected places. Berrettini says students sometimes go on to law school and social work, having been prepared by the writing, critical thinking and communication skills their film major provided.

Berrettini teaches courses in film history, theory, genre and screenwriting. The common denominator is helping students understand the many facets of this industry that combines art, technical wizardry and big business.

Read more about PSU's outstanding faculty.