MAY 2021

Congratulations to the Class of 2021

Congratulations, 2021 graduates. We are so proud of your academic and creative achievements. Not only have you earned your degree from George Mason University, but you did so in the middle of a pandemic. We commend your resilience, creativity, and commitment.

We encourage you to use your art to bring light to complex issues, open minds, and help people to understand each other. Continue to develop the skills you have learned as a student and embrace opportunities that will help you grow – even if at first these opportunities look like limitations. We believe in you and look forward to all the wonderful things you will achieve in the years to come. Keep in touch and always remember you are part of our Film at Mason family.

Virtual Mason Film Festival

Thank you to all of the friends, family, and Mason community who supported our students during the Virtual Mason Film Festival. Our online festival included a week-long screening of student films ranging from Beginning Video Production, Documentary Filmmaking and Senior Projects. Students also participated in live Q&As with audience participation. Monetary awards were donated by Advisory Board member Jack Kehoe. These prizes help support student filmmakers with the costs of post-production and preparing films for the festival circuit.  We would also like to show our gratitude to the scholarship and program donors who participated in the Film at Mason mini fundraiser.  A special thank you to our generous Advisory Board member Clara Kelly and her husband John Kelly for their matching gift. Congratulations to our festival winners and all of the student directors, writers, production, and post-production crew who made films this semester. We are so proud of you.

Our Time Machine: Panel Discussion and Education Program

Film at Mason Interim Director Cynthia Fuchs will be participating in a panel discussion for the film Our Time Machine on Thursday, June 10th from 7-9pm. Participants can register for the event here. The program will start off with the Alzheimer’s Association’s Dr. Cecilia Han, who will discuss warning signs of the illness. Following, Professor Fuchs will be joining Our Time Machine’s directors Yang Sun and S. Leo Chiang. Registration for the event includes free access to Our Time Machine from June 4-10, so you can view the documentary online at your leisure. 

About the film:
The film follows the experiences of the artist Maleonn. On learning of his father’s dementia, he creates “Papa’s Time Machine,” a wondrous time-travel adventure performed on stage with life-size mechanical puppets. Through the play’s (and the film’s) production, he confronts his own mortality. Maleonn finds grace and unexpected joy in this moving meditation on art, the agonies of love and loss, and the circle of life.
Watch the trailer:

Highlighted Fall Courses

Registration is open for Fall 2021. If you have not done so already, schedule an appointment to meet with your academic advisor. We will be updating our website as more information becomes available for expectations next semester. Below, see a list of special topics course offerings.
FAVS 399 Curating and Programming
for the Moving Image

Professor KJ Mohr
Thursday | 1:30-4:10pm | Hybrid
Art Building Room AB 1007

This undergraduate seminar explores the rich and often overlooked history and current practice of independent exhibition of moving images. Through reading, writing, viewing, discussion and professional guest visits, students engage both critically and practically with ideas of venue and context, programming theory, curatorial ethics, distribution, and promotion for film and video. Student curators will learn to program, plan, promote, budget for, collaborate on, and host screenings, working with archives, distributors and artists, calling for submissions of work, and crafting programs that explore themes and subjects of interest to them. Events will include off-site screenings, on-campus programs, and virtual presentations.

The course is created and taught by KJ Mohr, a festival programmer and moving image curator. Mohr has served as the Director of Programming for the Tampa International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival; Programmer for the Maryland Film Festival's three-screen art house cinema, the Parkway; Film Curator for National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC; curator of the Conversations at the Edge series at the Gene Siskel Film Center; and she worked with Women in the Director’s Chair in Chicago for many years, in addition to three decades of international experience in microcinema production. This is a hybrid course, occurring online with some in-person meetings and events.
FAVS 399 Laughing Matters:
A Century of Film Comedy

Professor Rob Farr
Friday | 10:30am-1:10pm | In-person
Art Building Room AB 1007

Slapstick, satire, screwball, musical comedy, rom-com, and raunch are just some of the flavors of film comedy that have flashed across screens over the past 125 years. In this course we will be analyzing comedy, why it works, and what it says about the cultures that produce it. We will also heed Mr. Benchley’s gentle witticism and not lose sight of the primary purpose of humor, which is to provoke the joyful response we call laughter.  

This course surveys the history of cinematic comedy from Mack Sennett’s Keystone Cops to present-day comedies by Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele. Comedy is always a reflection of the culture and time it was produced. As we discuss comedy genres from different eras and parts of the world, we’ll consider their aesthetic, historical, and cultural aspects, including gender, race, age, and class. Laughing Matters promises to be a journey full of discoveries and surprising revelations. 
FAVS 433 Advanced Sound

Professor Amanda Kraus
Monday | 10:30am-1:10pm | Hybrid
Art Building Room AB 2001

Students will learn about advanced fundamental theory, tools, and techniques needed to create and/or implement sound for film. We will utilize the industry standard software Pro Tools. Students will also learn nonlinear sound editing, digital audio processing, frequency manipulation, synthesized sound techniques and mixing. We will focus on the power of sound and the contributions it can make not only in enhancing the visuals of a film, but also in telling the story within itself. This is a hybrid course, occurring online with in-person meetings.
FAVS 399 Music Video Production

Professor Russell Santos
Thursday | 1:30-4:10pm | In-person
Art Building Room AB 1007

This course is a complete step–by-step guide to creating a music video. We will cover: creating a music video treatment, producing and directing, casting and locations, shooting and editing, learning VFX and color correction, and delivering a music video to MTV and YouTube. If you listen to music and you can imagine stories for awesome music videos, this class is for you.

Faculty and Alumni Film Collaboration

"Blue," a short film produced by Professor Lisa Thrasher, directed & co-written by former Film at Mason Global Horror adjunct instructor Ziad Foty, made its premiere at The Official International Beverly Hills Film Festival at the beginning of the month. Here it won the "Best Short" Audience Award. Another adjunct alum, Professor Damien Coor, worked as cinematographer and several Film at Mason alumni and students worked on the film, including Serge Magnavox (’17), Jessica Riddle (’18), Andy Riddle (’18), Sanders Evans, Cory Mason (’19), Michael Cacciobaudo (’20), Gavin Thibodeau (’20), Danny Marcinek (’19), Jesse Benitez (’21), Thomas Vaughn (’16), Colin Stucki (’18), and Kyle VanDyke (’16).

Faculty Achievements

Professor Heather McDonald’s play, "An Almost Holy Picture," started rehearsals May 11th at Everyman Theatre. The play and will run live and be filmed for streaming. See the announcement in American Theatre Magazine. Professor McDonald also recently mentored young playwrights, ages 8-17, at Baltimore's Center Stage Theatre for the Young Playwright's Festival

Professor Tommy Britt’s script, Lab Partners, won first place in the International Short Script category at the Comox Valley International Screenwriting Festival, which produced a reading of the script. Another of his scripts, Ashlee Knows, won a separate award at the festival.

Alumni News

Film at Mason alum Scott Jeschke (‘12) released his new short science fiction film Mimic. In Mimic, a lone investigator seeks out answers from a reclusive Navy veteran to uncover what happened to a submarine that mysteriously vanished into the atmosphere one day. This stars alumni Luke Persiani (‘12) and Brian Jackson. The latter was recently featured in Shoutout Social. Dannie Synder (’10) worked as ADR Recordist .

Watch the film:
Congratulations to Film at Mason alumni Gavin Thibodeau (’20) and Alaa Zabara (’20) on their acceptances to graduate school. Gavin has been accepted to Columbia University’s School of the Arts Film and Media Studies Program and Alaa will be attending Loyola Marymount University to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Film and TV Production.

Student Spotlight

Film at Mason grad Dominique Bernardino was featured in the Mason News for her academic and creative achievements during her time as a Film and Video Studies major. Originally from the Philippines, Dominique made her senior capstone film into a documentary titled, “Children of Gunshots,” about the effects of drug-related violence on children in the Philippines. Receiving an OSCAR URSP grant, she travelled to the Philippines for the entirety of Fall semester and shot her film during the pandemic. After graduation, Dominique plans to enter her film in festivals and hold screenings in the Philippines to raise funds for Project SOW, a foundation that helps widows and children displaced by the drug war have access to therapy and rehabilitation from heir traumas. It is her hope to continue to raise awareness to children exposed to drug-related violence in vulnerable communities. During her time at Mason, Dominique has held several on-campus jobs, including a Film at Mason office assistant, multimedia editor for GMU’s IV Estate, writer for Her Campus, and a communications assistant with Housing and Residence Life. She was the 2020 Film at Mason Princess Grace nominee and is the recipient of the 2021 Film at Mason Academic Excellence Award, which goes to a graduating four-year student with the highest GPA.  

Staff Achievement

Congratulations to Academic and Program Manager Samantha Sinagra on her graduation. She received her Master of Arts in Arts Management from George Mason this spring. Her thesis, “Beyond the Mall: Educational Programming in a Virtual Environment,” studied Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage’s pivot to online festival programs.

Filmmaker Fridays

Malcolm Spellman is the EP & Showrunner of the Marvel series, Falcon & The Winter Soldier. Previously he was a writer/producer on Empire, and he will be a co-writer/producer on the recently announced Captain America 4 film.

Destin Daniel Cretton is a director and producer, best known from his films, Just Mercy, Short Term 12, and The Glass Castle. His next film is the Marvel blockbuster, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which releases later this year.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Throughout the month, we will be highlighting the work and legacy of AAPI filmmakers and their impact on society and the history of art. Follow us on social media at FilmGMU to see our latest posts.

Film Opportunities and Resources

Open Submissions
  • The Directors Guild of America's application period for the 27th Annual DGA Student Film Awards for African American, Asian American, Latino and Women Directors is now open. Visit the DGA website or clicking here. Application deadline is October 8, 2021.

  • Production Stills Photo Contest 2021: Student Filmmakers Magazine invites all photographers to showcase their Production Stills in an exciting new photo contest. Each photographer can enter up to 3 photos. Open to all students, schools, teachers, professors, educators, indies, and professionals. Deadline is June 20, 2021.

  • The 4th ANNUAL FEATURE & TV PILOT DRAMA COMPETITION is one of the most highly rated competitions on FilmFreeway. The competition is designed with the writer in mind. Every script is read and judged by professional working writers. All notes are provided by writers and WGA members currently working in the industry. Use Page Turner to elevate your craft! Use Code - PTSDRAMASTUDENT - for $10 OFF over the FilmFreeway student fee. Deadline is June 21, 2021.

  • Cancer Support Community San Francisco Bay Area is hosting their first-ever film festival. Submit your short film (up to 10 minutes)  - with the theme "cancer and community" - and the top films will be chosen by a stellar panel of judges, including Josh Cooley, Lyn Sisson-Talbert, Perri Peltz, Eric Ellenbogen, and Jeffrey Freidman. Make a difference in the lives of people facing cancer. Submission fee waived for students (code: CSCgala). Deadline is May 31, 2021.

  • Applications are open for Femme It Forward's Next Gem Femme Mentorship Program, which is designed to accelerate career opportunities and the trajectory of young women of color.

  • Applications are open for the Disney Launchpad Shorts Incubator. Submission deadline: June 11, 2021.

Learning Opportunities
  • Women in Film and Video DC is hosting a Screenwriters Roundtable: Spec Script on Monday, May 24, 2021 at 6:30 PM. To register, visit At this meeting, participants will read and discuss Joya McCrory's SCHITT'S CREEK spec script that got her into the Warner Brothers Writers' Workshop. You will get the link to her script with your registration confirmation. The event is free for WIFV members or $10 for the general public.
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We want to hear from you! If you have news you would like to contribute, please send it to We are looking for regional film events and updates from Film at Mason alumni. Keep up-to-date on all the current Film at Mason news at

Film and Video Studies
College of Visual and Performing Arts
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