Name: Alexandra Byer
Year: Class of 2011
Hometown: Carlisle, MA
Major: Film & Media Studies
Minor: Writing Seminars
Hey! I’m currently a sophomore in the Film & Media Studies program at Hopkins and absolutely love it. I came to Hopkins thinking I would be an English major, but after taking a couple film theory classes, I decided film was really more of what I wanted to study. The requirements for the major include a lot of upper level theory classes, along with a required independent study and production classes. Though most film students end up doing a lot with production, there’s the option of sticking to mostly theory classes. Students have to pick a concentration that parallels film, but is outside of the major. I haven’t yet decided what my concentration is going to be, but some students choose psychology, history, or writing – just to name a few.
I think my favorite part of being a film major is the opportunities Hopkins has given me. Though doing an independent study is required, I have already completed one and am currently participating in two more. My first independent study was writing for the department’s student run film blog. I was given the opportunity to write about almost anything I wanted to that related to film and post it on the blog. Coming from a strong writing background, I really loved doing it because it gave me the freedom to analytically explore many different filmic techniques. Though I only wrote for the blog for one term, I’ve decided to start my own film and music blog that I’m currently working on. The Film & Media Studies faculty is always welcome to finding independent studies for its students, helping them find new ways to engage in film.
Since the program is so small (I think about forty total undergraduates), most of the majors and minors know each other. This is extremely important because students are always helping each other out with their movies. A lot of the film majors also participate in Film Society together, a club that screens movies on campus and puts together a film festival in the spring. Also because the major is small, we get the chance to travel and have very dedicated and well-connected alumni. Last spring a group of about fifteen students traveled to New York City to visit the sets of the TV shows, Gossip Girl and What Not to Wear. In New York we also went to a cocktail party of Hopkins alums that are currently in the entertainment industry, which provided us to see what opportunities are out there for us after graduation and to make some connections for internships. (The picture is on set at Gossip Girl.)
The best part of the program is definitely the hands on experience we get but also the people I’ve met and been able to talk to. The directors of the documentary Chris & Don: A Love Story, along with the film’s subject Don Bachardy, came to Hopkins to screen their movie, and held a workshop for film students to talk about their backgrounds in film and what it takes to make a documentary. This past January, Hopkins alum Larry Meistrich, a Hollywood producer, conducted a film boot camp on campus to teach students about film production and allowed students to pitch a movie or TV idea to him at the end of the camp. These kinds of interactions and experiences are priceless. In just the past year I have been exposed to and learned more about the film industry than I could have ever imagined. (The picture is of Larry Meistrich who, like many other Hopkins alums, is dedicated to helping Hopkins students who want to be in the entertainment industry.)
(Don Bachardy, Tina Mascara, and Guido Santi of Chris & Don: a Love Story, talk to Hopkins students during their workshop.)
A lot of people question why I came to Hopkins for film because it doesn’t have the reputation that big art schools like NYU do. I shrug such comments off because I didn’t really plan on ending up a film major, but the more I think about it, Hopkins offers a lot more than a big film school like NYU. The students here are amazingly talented and because it is such a small program, we get a lot more attention from our professors. Students have a strong bond with their instructors, which makes classes better and I find students work harder because they know their teachers are indebted to their performance.
I’m not really sure yet what I want to do after graduation. I’m just starting film production courses, so maybe after I get more experience I will decide I want to be a director, but at the moment I am still very interested in the writing and media side of film. I’m hoping to intern for a WGBH or PBS program this summer to get some more practice, and will be studying abroad next fall. Unlike biology majors (most of whom go pre-med), one’s future in film isn’t already sketched out. There isn’t necessarily a twenty-year plan, so it’s hard for me to say where I’m going to end up after I graduate from Hopkins. But no matter what I do, I’ll have a very strong background and education in film and a strong alumni network to rely on.
Click here to access more information about the Film and Media Studies Undergraduate Program of Study.
To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective and the Film and Media Studies question thread.