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.
Click here to access more information about the Film and Media Studies Undergraduate Program of Study.
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