The Johns Hopkins Film Society

Name: Lauren Carney

Year: Class of 2011

Hometown: Westmont, NJ
Position: Director of Marketing

To put it simply, The Johns Hopkins Film Society has one goal: to make people watch some movies. Deeper than that though, our “mission” is basically to try to make critically acclaimed films {films that everyone should see} accessible to the Hopkins community and surrounding area. In college – especially if you’re not majoring in the Humanities – it’s can be hard to seek movies out, learn more about them, and appreciate the art of filmmaking itself. There are a lot of reasons people don’t see movies: the cost of a movie at a theatre is expensive for a student’s budget, it’s frustrating when a movie you thought was going to be good ends up being disappointing, etc. So, as Film Society, we try to choose quality movies and bring them directly to the Hopkins campus. And to make it even better, most of our film screenings are completely free to Hopkins students.

262779_3 In the fall, we have regular screenings right here on campus. They’re normally related to one another in some way, but it is a great chance to see a variety of different films for no cost at all. For example, this fall we went with two themes: a “Rebellious Youth” series and a short Stanley Kubrick revival series. We showed films like A Clockwork Orange, If…, Rebel Without a Cause, The Warriors, Gummo, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. We had reserved a screening space for every Thursday night of the semester and some of the bigger movies, like 2001, were shown on weekends. We also had a double-feature on Halloween: we showed Funny Games in the early afternoon and The Exorcist as it got dark. It was a lot of fun, both for Film Society and for our friends, to know that there would be a great movie – sometimes two or even three! – on campus to see every single week.

Adventures_of_power_ver3 In the spring though, most of our focus goes towards the Johns Hopkins Film Fest. JHFF used to be a really popular Film Fest, both in Baltimore and beyond. Though it took a hit when some of its founders graduated and left the area, we have an incredible group in Film Society who are dedicated to bring it back, improve our relations to the Baltimore community, and make “Johns Hopkins Film Fest” a well-known name. Currently, we show feature-length films, student films, and short film submissions that have been sent to us from around the world. All of the films are free for Hopkins students, faculty, and staff {but festival, day, and show passes are completely affordable for everyone else too}. Last year, we showed films like Adventures of Power and Elling, plus a student film showcase featuring projects by quite a few Hopkins film students. We also screened some great films by independent filmmakers from the United States, Spain, Germany, France, and more.

Sometimes, we’re even lucky enough to show big feature films before/very soon after they were released in theatres nationwide. The production company will get in contact with our faculty advisor, discuss the terms of our deal {the price we will charge, the amount of advertising we will promise, etc.}, and send us the film and sometimes even advertising materials. Just as an example, soon we will be showing Law Abiding Citizen starring Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler. The admission fee is only $3 – much cheaper than a movie theatre! – and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

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It’s important to the members of Film Society to maintain their integrity by showing films that we all love and believe in – but we also need to remember that we wouldn’t be a campus organization at all if our fellow students didn’t actually want to see the films. That’s kind of where I come in – I hold the job as Director of Marketing for Film Society, so basically I work on recruiting new members, marketing our screenings/meetings/events, and maintaining our campus relations – in other words, trying to make Hopkins love us and come to all of our stuff. Sometimes, I also feel like the person in the group who reminds everyone that Film Society isn’t just a club where they can watch their favorite films with their buddies – it’s a delicate balance between quality films and films that will catch the eye of the non-film fanatic, so I constantly look at our film line-ups with the Biology major, the athlete, or the general Baltimore community in mind. Luckily, I have a lot of help with all aspects of my job – we try to split ourselves into certain “roles” in the grouDSC02692p, but everyone helps everyone else out. I do primarily marketing-related tasks with a group of members who are also interested in the advertising/promotion side of things, but I’ll also help set up for an event, sell tickets, etc. We also need people to stay in contact with film distributors, train to use the projectors, keep on top of our budget/apply for student group grants, and more. It’s a lot of work and a lot to coordinate – but, as our advisor said recently, we’re a fine tuned machine! {The photo is of Aljosa, me, and Clare at the Student Activities Fair in September, telling everyone about Film Society.}

Freshman year, Film Society was the very first club meeting I ever went to. I was really excited to learn that there were actually student groups like this at Hopkins – intimate, fun, and a group of
relatable people with whom I could make big things happen across campus. But, because of the time meetings were scheduled back then, I wasn’t able to go to any for two semesters after that – I went to some events and kept getting the email updates, but I thought I would never get involved again because I had failed to in the beginning. But it goes to show you that things sometimes work themselves out for the best: even after all of my time away, I sucked it up and went back to a meeting sophomore year. Now, I have a leadership role and it is truly one of my most rewarding activities. I’ve learned a lot about marketing to a wide variety of people, organizing a group in the role of the “leader” {when we need to do an advertising push}, and more about how to plan and successfully host an event. They’re all valuable lessons that I can take with me in the future, to jobs and in life. But I think the best part about Film Society is, at the end of the day, we get to do one thing we really love: come together, watch movies, and spend time with some incredible people.