JUNE 2020

A Message from Film at Mason Professor Cynthia Fuchs

"You write in order to change the world… The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way a person looks or people look at reality, then you can change it."

James Baldwin's faith in the power of art inspires us still. The faculty and staff at Film at Mason believe in this power and in using our art -- filmmaking -- to tell stories that matter. We believe in our students, and our curriculum reflects our commitment to interrogating as well as making media. To change the world, we must see it as well as represent it, honestly, thoughtfully, and with purpose. Our mission statement speaks to our commitment: "Film at Mason is a community of cinematic storytellers that fosters creativity, analysis, and diverse perspectives, professional practice and socially conscious filmmaking." 

Today, we send our condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Sandra Bland, and the countless other victims of police brutality and racist violence. We are also encouraged by the current -- ongoing, resilient -- movement.

Black Lives Matter.

To fight racism and attain justice, the way forward is at once clear and complicated, equal parts protest, education, and communication. The way forward is also premised on understanding the past, images and experiences from which we can learn even as we resist them. As Baldwin asserted, "History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history." History, like art, like filmmaking, and like the future, is a process. That process must be inclusive and intentional, empathetic and self-aware. That process is our present, and it will be our work and our commitment in the days, weeks, and years to come.

Our dedication to inclusive filmmaking is longterm. Our own history includes more than two decades of the Visiting Filmmakers Series at Mason, featuring films and artists who represent black lives, experiences, and aspirations. We are honored to continue to support these filmmakers and their stories. In this spirit, see this list of 12 Black Lives Matter Films, selected from the Visiting Filmmakers Series.

Congratulations, Graduates

Film at Mason Class of 2020:  
Hello, graduates. We are so proud of you. Not only have you earned your degree from George Mason University, but you have also done something that no graduates of the University have done before: you’ve completed your work during a pandemic. We appreciate your resilience, creativity, and commitment. Due to our current circumstance, we aren’t able to celebrate together in person. Still and always, Film at Mason supports you.   
As we adjust to our new world, 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.  

Film @ Mason graduating seniors show off their Mason pride with a cool spin on the "Don't Rush Challenge" video, featuring Sumona Banerji, Alexandria McAlpine, Alaa Zabara, Nicole Clavel, Leonard Collins, and Hannah Harmison.

Virtual Mason Film Festival

Thank you to all of the friends, family, and Mason community who supported our students during the first ever Virtual Mason Film Festival. Our online festival began with an all-day screening of student films ranging from Beginning Video Production, Advanced Fiction Film, Visual Effects, and Senior Projects. Students participated in live Q&As with audience participation. Monetary awards were donated by Advisory Board members Erik Muendel (Brightline Interactive) and Jack Kehoe. These prizes help support student filmmakers with the costs of post-production and preparing films for the festival circuit.  Monetary prizes were also given to our FAVS 498 students who participated in the pitch competition to help fund their senior films in the upcoming semester. Congratulations to our winners and all of the student directors, writers, production, and post-production crew who made films this semester. We are so proud of you.  
See list of award winners

Student Achievement

Congratulations to all the Capital Emmy winners, especially our Film at Mason senior, Mohammed Saffouri, for his documentary, The First. Director of Photography Alaa Zabara is also recognized. This film was produced in Professor Maura Ugarte's Documentary Filmmaking course, FAVS 365.
Saffouri’s film follows 24-year-old Libyan-American, Abrar Omeish, and her campaign for a seat on the Fairfax County School Board. She became one of Virginia's youngest elected officials and the first Muslim woman to win.

Faculty Achievement

Congratulations to Professor Hans Charles and his film 1 Angry Black Man. Freestyle Digital Media acquired U.S and International rights to Professor Charles’ independent feature for a June 5 digital and DVD release. The story focuses on an African American senior (portrayed by Keith Stone) at a New England liberal arts college, where he is grappling with questions of identity and political correctness. It’s the debut feature of writer/director Menelek Lumumba. Emmy-nominated cinematographer Hans Charles (13th, Wu Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men) lensed the film and produced with partner Caroline Onikute for Align Pictures. Soulidifly Productions financed. And Film at Mason student Sarah Heaton designed the poster. 

Congratulations to Professor Cynthia Fuchs, recipient of the 2020 Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion! For the past 30 years, Professor Fuchs has brought renowned filmmakers to campus, creating opportunities for students and the community to discuss diverse and impactful films. 
Read more about Professor Fuchs' many accomplishments here.

Congratulations to Professor Nikyatu Jusu! She and her film, Nanny. have been selected for the 2020 Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs, reimagined and expressed digitally this year on Sundance Co//ab. 

That's a wrap! 

Thank you to all of our guest speakers who participated in the Visiting Filmmakers Series. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. If you missed a session, you can now watch recordings by visiting the Visiting Filmmakers Series website here.

Online Fall Course Offerings

FAVS 460 Advanced Video Editing
This advanced editing course is well-suited to online learning, as it incorporates video tutorials and focuses on developing technical skills and theoretical knowledge of editing for film via lecture, demonstrations, and in particular, individual practice. The course will feature guest lectures via WebEx with working editors, and will take advantage of the myriad resources LinkedIn Learning has to offer, as well as Adobe’s and DaVinci’s online classroom materials to support the instruction.

FAVS 375 Fiction Film Directing

Constraints make for creativity. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the challenges of filmmaking itself. While we’ll be writing scripts, we’ll also experiment with storytelling in innovative and creative ways. As an active filmmaker in the industry with top tier representation and resonant film projects in the horror and thriller genres, Professor Nikyatu Jusu’s online classroom includes cutting-edge practices that real life filmmakers are actively navigating to create contemporary work with accessible production tools. Students will also be exposed to award-winning filmmakers through virtual master classes, allowing engaging Q&As that answer their most pressing questions.

FAVS 331 Cinematography and FAVS 431 Advanced Cinematography

What makes the face to face Cine courses great are the hands-on workshops the courses provide.  Students love interacting with camera and lighting gear. Tools don't concern great cinematographers.  World class DPs obsess over concept, ideas, and images.  
An online course allows students the pacing and space to master the hardest part of becoming a successful cinematographer: grasping the history, art, and scientific concepts behind cinema's most iconic images. A distance learning cinematography course will force students to step back and deconstruct the best images in cinema, while learning how to recreate them, all without touching a single piece of gear. The best cinematographers in the world can walk into a room and tell you how to use light and compose a space to make timeless scenes. This online version of Cine/Adv Cine will teach students to do the same.

FAVS 352 Ethics of Film and Video 

The asynchronous approach to teaching and learning allows students to work at their own pace and according to their own schedule each week, while providing regular opportunities to learn and discuss the ethics of film and video and revisit past creative work, in small groups determined by their concentration within the Film major.

FAVS 399 Music Video Production

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 imagine stories that will make an awesome music video to share with others... then this class is for you.

Support a Student

After dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, many students have faced financial burden. Some lack the funds to pay for rent, tuition, and food. University Life has established a Student  Emergency Assistance Fund aimed at providing students with immediate assistance. Please consider giving to this fund. Financial assistance is a major part of our students’ well-being and every donation helps!

Latest Opportunities + Resources

Read this Anti-racism educational resource google doc that has a collection of anti-racist articles/videos/podcasts/books/films/activists that can support and deepen your understanding of racism. 
Read film writer and director Kasi Lemmons’ (“Harriet”) opinion piece, “White Americans, your lack of imagination is killing us.”
Download “Go Into The Story's” FREE eBook: A Screenwriter's Guide to Reading a Screenplay.
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Film and Video Studies
College of Visual and Performing Arts
4400 University Dr. MSN 5D8
Fairfax, VA 22030
703-993-3287 |
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