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Film and Media Studies

Name: Clare Richardson

Year: Class of 2012

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Major: Film & Media Studies, Writing Seminars

When I first came to Hopkins I knew I wanted to be a Writing Seminars major, and thought I’d just take some film classes for fun on the side. That all quickly changed after taking Intro to Film:  I absolutely loved the course, and fell in love with movies like Breathless and The General. But most of all I discovered how much I liked writing about film, and knew it was something I wanted to do as more than just a minor. I’m now a double major (Writing Seminars and Film & Media Studies) and planning on continuing Film Studies in grad school. Besides Intro to Film I and II, majors are required to take either Into to Visual Language or Intro to Production, as well as a couple beginning theory classes. After that seven 300 or 400 level classes are required, and these can be either production or theory classes. The most unique thing about our production track is that we shoot on film, which is becoming something of a lost art with the rise of digital filmmaking. While there’s pros and cons to both forms, the incredible opportunity to shoot on 16mm is something that’s not found at most film schools.  All of the class sizes are incredibly small: almost all classes are capped at 15 students. Students are also required to have a concentration in a separate area of film that still relates to film studies:  for me that’s Writing Seminars, but concentrations range from history to Jewish Studies to photography.

Film majors are also required to take one 500 level course (either an independent study project or internship), but most people end up doing much more than one, since that’s what the film industry is all about:  experience. I’ve done an independent study with the department’s student run film blog, CinemAddicts where students can write whatever they want about film. For the past three summers I’ve also had internships at Fox Searchlight in Los Angeles and New York City and IFC Films in New York City. I’ve worked in special events, publicity, and distribution at these two studios, and it’s been really fun working in the industry these past summers:  I’ve definitely gained invaluable real world experience through all of my internships.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to attend the Sundance Film Festival each year I’ve been at Hopkins, and each year I’ve completed an Independent Study Project on the films I’ve seen at the festival (you can read all about my experience at the 2009 festival here). Sundance is an incredible place for anyone who loves independent cinema, and I’m so fortunate to have the support of the department’s faculty to tie together my experiences at the festival and my studies at Hopkins so closely, year after year. For the first time this year an intersession course is being offered called Sundance: its Role in Contemporary Cinema, where film majors will go to the festival and experience everything it has to offer firsthand.

Film & Media Studies may be one of the university’s smallest departments, but I think this is one of its greatest strengths: all of the majors get to know each other really well, and the strong relationships students develop with their professors. I’m more focused on the theory side of the department but I’ve been helping out on film shoots since I was a freshman, and as a more theory-based student the fact that I still have the opportunity to regularly help out on production shoots is unheard of at most other programs. Not only are the department’s professors incredible teachers, but they are all personally invested in your success in the program, which fosters a unique and reciprocal learning environment.

There are other ways to be involved in film outside the academic realm at Hopkins: we have our very own Film Society, which I’m currently co president of. It’s a great way to meet fellow cinephiles on campus, and we have weekly meetings where we discuss film as well as plan our many screenings. We put on a Fall Film Series which consists of weekly  screenings (this year’s theme is Freudian Slips, where each week is based on one of Freud’s theories) as well as monthly showings on 35mm in Shiver Hall (our last one was Inglourious Basterds). In April we hold our annual Film Festival, which spans the entire weekend and we show everything from student shorts to recent independent releases to revival cinema classics. Members can also learn how to project on 35mm through Film Society.

I’m currently in the process of applying to grad school for Cinema Studies, so I’m hoping to continue my film theory studies for a least a couple more years after I graduate from Hopkins this year. After grad school I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be doing, but I do know I’ll definitely be working in the industry in some capacity. As I sit down to write personal statements and other application materials, I can’t help but realize how formative and influential my Film Major has been. If I hadn’t taken Intro to Film, where would I be today? Being a Film & Media Studies major introduced me to both the more theoretical study of film as well as real world experience though my internships, and it has completely defined what I want to do with my life after Hopkins.

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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 Environmental Engineering question thread.

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Film and Media Studies

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. 

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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 Image003students 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 Image007I’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.)

 

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(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.

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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.

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