The day after screening his senior thesis short film, Jacob Ehrlich was sentimental about his journey through the Film and Media Studies (FMS) department.
“I came into the program with very little understanding of what it was like to make an indie film,” he said.
Ehrlich, a double major in film and media studies and computer science, spent his four years in production courses, theory classes and foreign film lectures. And he worked on plenty of short film projects, too.
“I think I learned a lot just by doing,” Ehrlich said.
He’s speaking to the mentalities of the production courses, which allow students to write their own scripts and produce their own projects. Ehrlich notes that he’s very grateful for that hands-on approach because it allowed him to make mistakes (and learn from them).
“I think that the Tufts FMS program did a really good job of giving us plenty of practice and plenty of opportunities to make mistakes,” he said. “I think that eventually led to my senior thesis, which I’m very proud of and I think is a culmination of all of the practice-based courses I’ve taken at Tufts.”
It’s certainly not the senior thesis showing he envisioned.
“I think that the worst part about it is not getting that sense of closure from your professors and friends,” Ehrlich said.
But his thesis film, “Rinse & Repeat,” was still a sign of his accomplishments as a filmmaker. He’s got plenty of other highlights from his time at Tufts; from being a teaching assistant to participating in Tufts University Television and working in classes like Advanced Filmmaking, Ehrlich has learned a lot and grown into a filmmaker his first-year self probably wouldn’t recognize.
While he certainly enjoyed learning about and making film — he mentioned “a happy accident” where he took a School of the Museum of Fine Arts course on Cinema 4D that proved to be one of his favorites — Ehrlich fell in love with the post-production process of film.
“I think that it’s a really interesting aspect of telling the story, with the rhythm of the cut and how you choose to order the shot,” he said.
There’s a clear love for the medium of film, too; Ehrlich notes that there’s something special about how film can do what no other art form can.
“I think it’s a really complete way to tell a story,” he said.
He recounts his favorite projects — including collaborations with friends and the Independent Filmmaking class production — and the professors who helped guide him along the way, like Howard Woolf. And while he talks about making these films, particularly “Rinse & Repeat,” there’s an impressive focus on detail.
“For me, part of the fun of it is the post-production. I’m more focused on editing, so I wanted to leave more time for that,” Ehrlich said, before adding that “the final draft of the film was scrutinized” as he asked himself if each and every frame of the film was what he wanted.
In past years, it’s been easier to ask seniors what their post-graduation looked like. Unprecedented and terrifying times make that question almost inappropriate, but Ehrlich’s answer is honest and hopeful.
“My ultimate goal would be to either be a film editor or edit television,” he said. “But obviously for the next few months, production isn’t happening and that means post-production isn’t happening.”
Ehrlich’s plans will involve looking for work opportunities in Los Angeles and New York, but he sees plenty of time to continue working on his craft.
“I can certainly see myself continuing to write my own projects and work on my own short film ideas or feature film ideas, even if they’re not feasible,” he said. “I think it’s important to keep being creative, keep having ideas and keep moving forward.”