Academic Program

ACM emphasizes narrative theories, skills, and application across multiple platforms of digital media and within a context of cultural and aesthetic values. ACM seeks to empower students to tell their own stories of Hawaii, the Pacific and Asia rather than have those stories told for them through a different cultural lens that is distant and often distorted.

ACM offers a core curriculum in three tracks: Digital Cinema, Computer Animation, and Critical Studies

Bachelor of Arts in Creative Media 

Beyond a required core of ACM courses, students have the flexibility to design an academic program in their chosen curricular track, supplemented by ACM electives and electives from a variety of UHM departments offering courses in film studies. Students work in close consultation with a faculty advisor to develop a program that reflects the development of theoretical, writing, technical, creative, and critical thinking skills.

ACM Curricular Tracks

ACM offers a core curriculum and electives in three tracks: Digital Cinema, Computer Animation, and Critical Studies. To insure that students in the Bachelor of Arts program satisfy ACM learning objectives in Critical Thinking, Writing, History & Aesthetics, Technical Skills of Digital Story Telling, Creativity, and Responsibility, all majors must take a core of 18 credit hours:

  • The introductory course
  • One Basic Production Skills Course
  • One Writing Course
  • Three Courses in Critical Studies

ACM Student Learning Objectives 

Students have the flexibility to design an individual academic program around a core of ACM courses and electives, as well as electives from a variety of UHM departments offering courses in film studies, digital design, and technology. ACM stresses the interdisciplinary nature of media production and study within an Arts & Sciences foundation. Students work in close consultation with faculty to develop an academically and personally meaningful and rigorous interdisciplinary program that reflects the development of academic, technical, creative and critical thinking skills.

Critical Thinking
  • Abilities in problem-solving, research, and application of theory to practice
  • Appreciation for the study and production of films that help people phrase arguments, evaluate positions and listen well to informed and diverse civic conversation

At the core of both an Arts & Sciences education and life-long learning, critical thinking is a learning outcome that begins with the introductory course in Creative Media and carries through to senior-level curriculum in all tracks: Digital Cinema, Computer Animation & Video Game Design, and Critical Studies. Students learn and apply analytical techniques for interpreting film and other media programs. They consider the social and cultural impacts of media on people, as well as the impacts of social and cultural trends on media production. Each step in the production of a digital film or video game involves decision-making that must be based in overall objectives, values, and within a context of group, organizational and social dynamics.

  • Creative and critical expression through writing
  • Knowledge, appreciation and skills in narrative and cinematic storytelling

As narrative is the foundation for ACM’s existence as a media production program, writing is the core of the narrative. All ACM students learn the principles of writing for the screen, whether it is from the perspective of an indigenous, oral tradition, explorations into creative self-expression, or project/client-based outcomes. Students additionally learn to creatively communicate the theories, principles and research findings of media production and media study through directed assignments of analytical writing. Advanced students learn the power of the written word in proposing story ideas, treatments and script synopses for potential funding sources.

History and Aesthetics
  • A history and appreciation of cinematic media
  • The ability to critically evaluate, using a cinematic vocabulary, their own work and the work of others

Students learn the impressive and important place and role of media arts in local, Western and global societies. They gain an appreciation of intellectual history of ideas that have driven the development of mass and digital media as a context for the development of their own original, creative story ideas, theoretical observations and academic inquiry. Students learn, and apply, the guiding syntax of a visual language for relating stories, ideas, human behavior and values on the screen. They learn to analyze, criticize, and express the artistic values of individual films – including their own, film genres, directors’ oeuvres, and national cinema systems.

Professional Skills
  • Knowledge of professional/industry standards, practice and protocols in technical production and in the general economics of mainstream and independent production
  • Development of multiple techniques and technical skills in visual and cinematic production

In addition to increasing their foundational knowledge and expressive skills through writing, ACM students are introduced to the various and myriad techniques, technologies and economics required of professionals in digital media production. Regardless of their track or sequence, all students learn the essentials of composing a scene, lighting, sound, direction and editing. Students learn the fundamentals of the business and economic foundations of the media production industry, and the producing responsibilities of image creators. Whether they plan a career in media production or not, they learn the technological and human skills and protocols of telling stories on the screen – valuable not only for self-expression, but also for careers involving public presentations and the creation of media images. Students realize technologies will change, and they will need to adapt to an ever-changing technological landscape, but that they understand and can apply the theories and techniques regardless of change in technological tools

  • Development of, and appreciation for, an artistic voice, particularly a Hawai’i-influenced voice
  • The processes of producing a creative project for public consumption

ACM students learn creative self-expression through the creation of original narratives that are produced for the screen. They gain appreciation for differing forms of creative expression through digital media – documentaries, personal and social story films, animation, and non-linear storytelling through interactive video games. Students learn to combine the artistic sensibilities of painting, printmaking, sculpturing, photography, drama, music, and montage. They understand and can communicate Hawai’i unique historic, social and cultural perspective for original narratives. Students also find creative expression through original essays and research papers on topics of the media-human and media-society interface.

  • Development of group dynamic skills in both collaboration and leadership
  • Knowledge and application of media ethics, developing a personal and professional responsibility

ACM students learn that creativity in the public arena involves professional and social responsibilities of the artist/communicator. Students learn the ethics of responsible media production, including fair and truthful representations of individuals and societal groups. Students also learn the responsibilities of leadership and group contributions in the labor-intensive dynamic of media production.

Student-Centered Learning
ACM students take responsibility for their own learning. ACM courses are designed as active learning laboratories where students immediately apply theoretical concepts and professional practice to their work. Individually and in groups, students learn from the instructor, from texts (including films as well as books), and equally as important – from each other and from their own experiences. ACM adopts a model of classroom instruction where instructors mentor students, provide them with the tools and skill sets for excellence, and allow them to explore their own creative and academic potential.