The Department of Radio-Television-Film at The University of Texas at Austin offers a broad range of courses in the media arts leading to the Bachelor of Science, Master of Fine Arts, Master's and Ph.D. degrees. Consistently ranked as one of the top 10 programs in the country, it is one of the few departments offering degrees in both practical and theoretical areas -- i.e., in both media production and media studies.
There are currently approximately 900 undergraduate students and 160 total graduate students in the Department. There are 28 full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty, with approximately 25 part-time adjunct faculty hired each semester.
Austin Film Community
Filmmaker Tobe Hooper was once asked about making movies in Austin in the early 1970s, when he and a group of friends shot The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in and around the capital city. "Back in those days, shooting in Austin, you didn't have dailies, you had weeklies," joked Hooper of the city's underdeveloped filmmaking resources. As author and Radio-Television-Film alum Alison Macor recounts in Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids: Thirty Years of Filmmaking in Austin, Texas, in the decades since Hooper and co-writer Kim Henkel first introduced audiences to Leatherface, Austin's film scene has changed radically.
In the 1970s, movies like Chainsaw and Eagle Pennell's The Whole Shootin' Match helped to define Austin as a regional film center. Screenwriters like Bill Wittliff and Warren Skaaren, both based in Austin, demonstrated through their Hollywood projects in the mid 1980s that one didn't have to leave Austin to find success in the film business. But it was Richard Linklater's film Slacker that put Austin on the map in terms of defining the city as a vital community for contemporary independent and low-budget filmmaking.
Linklater's success was soon followed by Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi, which Rodriguez wrote and shot while enrolled as a student in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at UT. Mike Judge and Tim McCanlies relocated to the Austin area around that time, and the city continues to attract narrative, documentary, and experimental filmmakers. This influx of talent, according to filmmaker George Lucas, who has become a mentor to Rodriguez over the years, has been instrumental in helping to sustain Austin's film community. "Just the fact that Robert's in Austin, I'll bet, has inspired about 100 other kids to be filmmakers. And the key is for them to realize that when they go off to film school or wherever they go, to come back to Austin and not buy into the idea that they want to go to Hollywood and become Michael Bay or Steve Spielberg," said Lucas when interviewed for Macor's book.
An equally important part of Austin's film scene is the city's lively filmgoing culture. For years Quentin Tarantino hosted his wildly popular "QT Fest" film screenings in Austin, an event that grew out of his collaborative friendships with Rodriguez and Linklater. Austin boasts a wealth of internationally recognized film festivals including the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival, the Austin Film Festival, Cine las Americas, Fantastic Fest, and the South by Southwest Film Festival. The Austin Film Society, created by Linklater and friends in 1985, continues to nurture Austin's culture with its regular screenings of classic and contemporary global cinema, works in progress, and star-studded world premieres. Venues like the historic Paramount Theatre and the beloved Alamo Drafthouse theaters are another part of the scene. The film community's ever-expanding infrastructure includes many other organizations and institutions, which continue to inspire and offer support to the next generation of filmmakers living and working in Austin today.
Contact RTF Staff
The Department offers guided tours of our facilities on selected dates during the Fall and Spring semesters. The tour is followed by an Information Session led by a College of Communication Undergraduate Advisor.
From September-May, RTF Tours are held on the same days as the Information Sessions. There are no guided tours June-August. Registration is required for both Tours and Information Sessions. Click here to register for the Tour and Information Sessions. Select your preferred date, then under the "Select Session Type" pull-down menu, select Communication Information Session and/or Radio-Television-Film Tour.
Tours of the facilities begin at 2:00 PM in the RTF office (CMA 6.118).
Tours are led by a staff member and last about 45 minutes.
If you cannot attend a guided tour, information for a self-guided tour is always available outside the RTF office (CMA 6.118). If you would like to meet with a prospective student advisor, call the Student Advising Office at (512) 471-1553.
Information Sessions begin at 3:00 PM in the Lady Bird Johnson Conference Room (CMA 5.160).
They are conducted by a College of Communication Undergraduate Advisor and cover information about all the departments in the College (RTF, Journalism, Communication Studies, Advertising, and Communication Sciences and Disorders).
These sessions do not cover information about admissions requirements. Incoming freshmen and external transfer students (from other colleges or universities) should contact the UT Admissions Office at (512) 475-7399 or visit the Admissions "Be a Longhorn" Web site for admissions information.
If you want to transfer into RTF from another department at the University of Texas, you must apply for internal transfer into the College of Communication.
Hiring Student Assistants
People often ask us if we can help them find students to assist with a production that will be shooting in Austin, or to create an educational or training video for an organization, or to make a video of a special or personal event.
Many of the talented young filmmakers in our department are eager for experiences outside their class work, and we urge you to contact them via the methods below. Please remember, however, that the Department cannot usually recruit students for you nor guarantee that you will find a suitable student for your project. Any agreement you make will be between the student and yourself or your organization.
Connecting with Student Filmmakers
Contact the College of Communication Career Services Office to post a job or internship opportunity.
Contact students via the Student Production Resource Center (The Cage). Submit your opportunity to The Cage weekly newsletter, which is circulated to all RTF undergraduate and graduate students.
In some special circumstances, the Department can assist you in recruiting students. If you are another unit on the UT campus, are a production company looking for multiple students, or feel your project needs special assistance, please contact the Department Office at (512) 471-4191.