New Film and Media Studies program grows, holds official launch

Over 20 students have declared majors in the new Film and Media Studies (FMS) major since the beginning of the school year.

The official launch of the new program was celebrated in the Tisch Library and Ballou Hall on Oct. 30 and featured workshops for students and opportunities to engage with alumni. According to FMS Program Director Julie Dobrow, she and the other program director Malcolm Turvey coordinated the day’s events along with the entire FMS team.

The FMS launch began with three workshops led by alumni in the media and film industries, according to Dobrow. Two of the workshops featured Hollywood writer and producer Jeff Strauss (LA ’84), who discussed writing for television and film, and senior culture writer at online women’s magazine Bustle Meredith Turits (LA ’09), who spoke about the use of social media for branding. The third workshop focused on multi-platform journalism and was led by Boston Globe Magazine staffer Neil Swidey (LA ’91) and Anthony Everett (LA ’83), a cohost of “Chronicle,” a newsmagazine program from Boston-based WCVB-TV. Both Swidey and Everett have previously taught a class on multi-platform journalism at Tufts.

Dobrow added that having alumni involved in the launch was important to the FMS faculty.

“We have great alums who are doing really interesting things in all media fields,” she said. “They’ve been an important part for us in developing the program over the years, and we wanted to make sure we invited back a number of alums to help us do this launch the way it should be done.”

After the workshops, the FMS program was officially launched at 1 p.m. in Tisch 304 with speeches by University President Anthony Monaco and others involved in the program’s creation, according to Dobrow. The FMS department then screened four alumni films.

Following the screenings, Carlos Gutierrez, (LA ’98) and Chelsea Grayson (LA ’12), who both were Communications and Media Studies (CMS) minors at Tufts, facilitated a discussion with attendees about the films, Dobrow said. Heather Hendershot, professor of film and media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), then gave a keynote address for the launch.

“[Hendershot’s] work kind of crosses media and film,” Dobrow said. “It’s very much in line with the way we designed the FMS major and minor.”

According to Dobrow, the day’s festivities ended with a celebration in the Coolidge Room in Ballou.

Dobrow said that she and Turvey, who was recently hired as an art and art history professor at Tufts, hope that the program continues to grow based on student and alumni feedback.

“We’re going to continue to build on what we’ve developed with CMS over the years and make sure that students get a really well-balanced, broad-based approach to media and to film,” she said. “We want to make sure that students graduate from Tufts being really media literate, which means not only being able to analyze and critic media but also [knowing] something about its creation.”

Turvey explained that the FMS program is interdisciplinary in nature, with the current curriculum composed of more than 90 courses from 24 departments and programs.

Turvey also said that he hopes to expand the classes provided by the actual FMS program itself.

“What we really need now are more courses that are purely focused on Film and Media Studies,” he said.

This semester Turvey is teaching “Art of the Moving Image,” which he called the “gateway course to the program.”

The FMS program is offering new courses next semester, including “From ‘Why Not’ to Wi-Fi: a History of American Broadcasting,” “Media Theory” and “Global History of Cinema,” according to Dobrow. She explained that as industries evolve within the changing media landscape, courses will be offered accordingly.

“We are cognizant of the fact that film and media are changing very rapidly, are becoming evermore integrated…and digital,” Dobrow said. “You can be sure that the courses that we offer are going to continue to reflect trends in academia and trends in the industry.”

Senior Imogen Browder, an FMS major, said that the program is allowing her to broaden her understanding of film technique more than was previously possible through her studies at Tufts.

“When I arrived at Tufts, I found [that] a combination of CMS, drama and involvement with TUTV [Tufts University Television] helped fulfill my desire to study and create moving image art, but [I] am excited by this opportunity to study in a more formal — and focused — program,” she told the Daily in an email.

Browder said that because of the program’s relatively small size right now, she has had the opportunity to work very closely with her professors, who have offered her support and guidance. She added that the interdisciplinary nature of the FMS programs allows students to understand the field within a broader context.

“The classes I’ve taken have covered over five disciplines and [material from] several countries,” she said. “From an educational standpoint, I feel I understand our current film industry and technique and [that I] have a great appreciation for where we’ve come from.”

Browder explained the importance of practical experience, noting that she interned with Bona Fide Productions last winter through the CMS program’s internship program, which led her to spend the summer working at ABC. As the program continues to grow, Browder hopes that it will provide more practical opportunities for students.

“Most of the hands-on production experience I’ve been involved in has been with TUTV, which I’m very thankful for,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the FMS department becoming more involved in student film.”

Turvey said that the FMS department has a beneficial relationship with the Experimental College, which regularly offers FMS courses taught by experienced professionals in the field. He and Dobrow both spoke about the importance of practical experience in pursuing an FMS degree.

“I’m grateful that we have such a wonderful and engaged base of alums who will keep [coming] to campus and doing all sorts of events and internship opportunities,” Dobrow said. “[Because of this,] students can [encounter] a blend of classroom and hands-on experiences that will really position them for whatever they want to do when they graduate.”