FMS Students Read for the 2014 Baltimore Screenwriters Competition

As they have since its inception nine years ago, Hopkins film students served this winter as first readers for the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition, sponsored by the Baltimore Office for Promotion & The Arts. Under the supervision of Senior Lecturer Lucy Bucknell, interns evaluated and provided coverage of competition screenplays. Winners will be announced at the Maryland Film Festival in May.

Alessandra Bautze, Class of 2014: For the second year I had the privilege of being a First Reader for the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition. Once again I was impressed by the quality of the scripts submitted. They spanned a range of genres and were very entertaining. But most importantly, each project clearly came from the heart; each had a unique, honest voice. This was particularly true in the case of scripts that dealt with difficult issues, and these I found the most compelling. It takes a lot to put your work out there. The competition is great because it offers a forum, and really encourages community participation in the arts. It's an honor to represent the program and Hopkins generally by reading for this competition. As before, I found the experience enriching, educational, and fun! It's one among many opportunities offered Film and Media Studies students to take what they've learned in the classroom one step further. ​

Caroline DeLuca, Class of 2014: I really appreciated the chance to be a part of the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition. It was exciting to read the scripts of emerging writers, and to gain a new sense of the city through the dramatic lens of residents. As I read and analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the pieces, I gained a sharper sense of what keeps a full-length screenplay engaging start to finish, and what issues threaten that appeal. This was a great opportunity to involve myself with endeavors of reading and writing outside of Hopkins. I hope that all submitters will continue to learn and write; it was a pleasure to read their work.

Abby Harri, Class of 2014: While reading feature screenplays for my last internship, based in NYC, I found that New York or occasionally rural stories were common. The Baltimore Screenwriters Competition offers a new perspective from a different kind of urban space, one that has its own stories to be told by its own people. I believe a sense of place is necessary for a good story, indeed that the space itself has stories to tell.  It’s important for the Competition to foster local talent, to encourage the city's voices and let Baltimore tell itself.  It was a pleasure to be a reader and to get a taste of this fresh content!

David Shear, Class of 2015: In my writing classes at Hopkins I've had the opportunity to read a lot of student work, always with an eye toward the little details. I worked from a micro level up to a macro, focusing on how something was said more than what was said. Reading scripts from the Baltimore community has shifted my views. I was struck by the creativity of the stories, the freshness of worlds I was unfamiliar with. And I found myself looking at the story as a whole before looking at its components. It was a delightful experience. I remember in the midst of a bad day sitting down with a script and having it put a smile on my face that lasted for hours. I’ve realized that what is just as important as how, and my memory of the work is of pleasure above all else.

Abby Sussman, Class of 2014: As a Writing Seminars major, I have taken many writing workshop classes here at Hopkins, including a few in screenwriting. While I enjoy reading work from my classmates, it was a nice change to read work from aspiring writers in the greater Baltimore community for the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition. It was interesting to see how and what they wrote and what topics and themes were important to them. I was continually impressed by the quality of the entries I read; I am glad to see that Baltimore has such a thriving screenwriting community. Writing coverage for the competition also differed in how thorough I had to be in my feedback. As a first reader, I needed to analyze all aspects that go into making a successful film, such as characterization, dialogue, action, and setting. This was challenging but also a reminder of how great it can be when all of the moving parts come together to form a powerful narrative.

Calling on Visionary Filmmakers:  Hopkins Film Fest 2014

by Abby Harri, Class of 2014

Planning any four-day event is a challenge, but when you’re doing it for nine months the event can truly become your “baby.”  With a double dose of snow days on February 13th and 14th, a cancelled opening night screening, and the general homebody mentality that can result from winter weather in Baltimore, the Film Society had to put up a major fight for its blessed event, the 2014 Johns Hopkins Film Festival.

Read on to find out how the JHU Film Society made this their best festival yet!

Film Society members posing with 35MM film prints post-festival.

Thomas Dolby to Join FMS Faculty

Musician and producer Thomas Dolby will be the artistic director of the Program in Sound on Film at Station North, and teach the Film and Media Studies Program-Peabody collaborative course Sound on Film.

Read more on The Hub: "Digital music pioneer, 1980s pop icon Thomas Dolby to join Hopkins faculty"

Not the HBO "Newsroom": Interning at The Baltimore Sun

By Andrea Massaro, Class of 2015

On my first day of work on a Tuesday morning, I stepped off the shuttle at Peabody and took the two-minute walk to the 500 block of North Calvert. It's not an ordinary city block; the Baltimore Sun Media Group (BSMG) owns the entire thing, which at the very least made it impossible for me to get lost. Entering a headquarters this size, I'll admit I prepared myself for failure-- a mediocre intern in a well-oiled machine. My only knowledge of the industry was what I'd seen the night before on HBO's The Newsroom, and I was prepared to do the same miserable grunt-work as the fictional interns-- and inevitably somehow mess it up as well. I resolved for the final time: I was here to write, and write I would, mistakes and all. This was why I'd accepted the position of features intern at The Baltimore Sun during an already hectic junior fall.

Read more about Andrea's internship experience by clicking here.

Alumni Profiles

"I started out at Johns Hopkins as a chemical engineer. It took me a very quick year and a half to realize it wasn't the life for me. In my search for a new major I happened across a Russian Cinema class. It changed my life. The Film and Media Studies Program was so kind in immediately taking me in and making me one of their own. Suddenly I was up to my eyeballs in screenings, experimental film, lost and found film editing, and shooting 16mm film. Hopkins isn't where I fell in love with film, but it IS where I realized that film and I could be in a long-term, loving relationship. There's no sense doing something other than what you love in life. For me, the Johns Hopkins Film and Media Studies Program showed me that. The program cares, the faculty care, and your fellow peer filmmakers care. You can't ask for more than that."

George Telonis, Class of 2007
MFA, Film Production, Florida State University
Independent Film Production

Click here to read more alumni statements.


Film and Technology: The 2013 Johns Hopkins Undergraduate Film Conference

By Abby Harri, Class of 2014

In its inaugural year, September’s Undergraduate Film Conference made its mark in the array of events for cinema lovers at Hopkins and in Baltimore.  The thoughtful programming and quality of presentations were exceptional for any event, especially one in its first year.   Considering the forthcoming expansion of the Film and Media Studies Program to the Station North Arts District, and the growth of the program generally, the theme of “Expanded Cinema” seemed appropriate even beyond its intended use.

            The brainchild of Nour El Safoury (class of 2013), the conference was organized and run by Nour, Helen Latimer (’14), Annie Rhee (’16), Sarah White (’16), and Emily Yang (’16), with guidance from Baltimore video artist and FMS lecturer Jimmy Roche.   The theme took inspiration from Gene Youngblood’s 1970 Expanded Cinema, which organizers described as “a ground-breaking book . . . in which he offered a framework for the ‘aesthetic application of technology’ and the inclusion of new technologies in film and other media.”  The conference thus focused on the intersection of film and technology today, sourcing speakers who ranged from students presenting academic papers, to a social media theorist, to interactive cinema pioneer Toni Dove, among others.

            Conversation circled around the rise in the digitization of media and what this means for the future of cinema.  Interestingly, this focus didn’t center solely on the question of digital vs. film in terms of media-making, although that was a valuable consideration of the last panel.  The question of the audience’s role in the digital age was also considered, taking into account forms of interactive cinema and the role of the Internet in sourcing material from the audience (such as the amateur scripts sent in for professional actors to perform through ProjectRANT, for example), and what that might mean for media producers and consumers.  Does interactivity mean free labor for media producers in some cases?  What might be the implications of consumers who are simultaneously producers?

            Not all questions were answered and tied up neatly with a bow, and rightly so.  The progressive nature of the conference not only allowed for a wonderful expansion to the slate of Film and Media Studies events, but expanded how we think about media, its production, and its consumption.  The conference encouraged us to wonder what the future of media might look like, an interesting but unsure landscape to traverse. We look forward to continuing the conversation with future conferences. 

Face to Face: Sundance 2013

by Maria Callahan, Class of 2015

"At Sundance every day holds the distinct possibility of bouncing ideas off of the minds of great directors, producers, sound designers, actors, industry insiders--the list goes on and on. By the end of the week I had engaged in conversations that I never would have dreamed of before heading to Park City. The trip left me both in awe of all the creative energy pulsing through the world of film, and inspired, feeling that it is a world which I can someday be a part of."

Read more about Maria's exprerience at Sundance Film Festival

FMS Students Read for the 2013 Baltimore Screenwriters' Competition

For the eighth year, in partnership with students at Morgan State University, Hopkins film students served as first readers for theBaltimore Screenwriters' Competition, sponsored by the Baltimore Film Office at the Baltimore Office for Promotion & The Arts. Under the supervision of Senior LecturerLucy Bucknell, interns evaluated and provided coverage of competition screenplays. Contest winners will be announced at the Maryland Film Festival in May.

Alessandra Bautze, Class of 2014: As a double major in Writing Seminars and Film and Media Studies, writing coverage for the 2013 Baltimore Screenwriters' Competition was educational, enlightening, and fun. Not only did I gain professional experience, but I also received academic feedback on the quality of my work from the professor, allowing me to see how I performed. Through exposure to different genres and writing styles, I was able to improve my screenplay analysis skills. I have written coverage in other academic and professional settings, but this was a wonderful opportunity to represent Johns Hopkins in the professional world. I was able to use the skills that I have learned here at Hopkins to contribute to a meaningful creative initiative, the Baltimore Screenwriters' Competition. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity and would recommend it to any student interested in screenwriting. It is just one of the many unique opportunities offered to students trough the Film and Media Studies Program!

Natasha Hirschfeld, Class of 2013: In this, my second year as a first reader for the Baltimore Screenwriters' Competition, I was once again graced with a collection of truly gripping story lines, beautifully imagined settings and a slew of characters I badly wanted to befriend. It is an honor to write coverage for the scripts that enter the competition, not only because it is so heartening to have my cinematic opinions considered, but because the incredible amount of effort these screenwriters have dedicated to their scripts deserves the careful attention and comprehension required specifically of a coverage writer. As an English major, I am all too accustomed to literary analysis and criticism; but reading and covering these screenplays affords me an entirely new, immensely addictive form of engagement with the written word. Few activities captivate my imagination more than ideas for films, and reading for the Baltimore Screenwriters' Competition gives me a one-month break from having to imagine movies myself.

Sam Johns, Class of 2013: I very much enjoyed writing coverage for the Baltimore Screenwriters' Competition. As a Writing Seminars major, I often analyze much shorter pieces for classes in the department. One problem with that is that flaws, especially in plot, story, and character, are easier to cover up or minimize. On the other hand, in a full-length screenplay, it's easier to identify exactly what's working and what isn't – and more importantly, to understand why. Getting to look at every aspect in such depth was not only refreshing, but a valuable opportunity to hone my own skills and thoughts about storytelling. I also appreciated the opportunity to apply those skills in a helpful way to practicing screenwriters.

Hopkins Film Students Read for the 2012 Baltimore Screenwriters Competition

For the seventh year, in partnership with students at Morgan State University, Hopkins film students served as first readers for the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition, sponsored by the Baltimore Film Office at the Baltimore Office for Promotion & The Arts.  Under the supervision of FMS Senior Lecturer Lucy Bucknell, interns evaluated and provided coverage of competition screenplays.  This year's contest winners will be announced at the Maryland Film Festival on Saturday, May 5, 2012. 

Here's what Hopkins readers had to say about their experience:

Clare Richardson, Class of 2012: Baltimore is a unique place with many stories to be told, and it was a great opportunity to read one person's take on and vision of the city. It's clear the Screenwriters Competition fosters and encourages local talent, and to be a part of the process was again an exciting experience this year.  I really enjoy providing coverage but currently don't have many chances to, so the competition is an ideal occasion for me to do so. It was a pleasure to be a reader!

Colleen Dorsey, Class of 2012: Being a Writing Seminars major, I have had a lot of practice reading other students’ works-in-progress and giving useful feedback, but writing coverage for the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition really required me to take it to the next level.  As a first reader, my analysis needed to be much more fleshed out and comprehensive.  It was enjoyable to spend hours with each script, considering all aspects – everything from visuals to dialogue to themes. It was challenging at times to explain my criticisms lucidly but in the end satisfying to get them down on paper.   Sometimes you have gut feelings about a story or a character, but for useful analysis getting to the bottom of those gut feelings is essential.  Furthermore, the experience of reading polished screenplays of emerging writers reminded me just how much work goes into such a product.  I'll be inspired in my own writing by these screenwriters' creativity and craft.

Hannah Miller, Class of 2013: The creativity of individuals in the community is impressive. Though readers aren't told who has written what, each script is a testament to their hard work and dedication, and each represents a singular voice.  It's so interesting to hear what each has to say.

Natasha Hirschfeld, Class of 2013: Reading Baltimore Screenwriters Competition entries was a unique and wonderful experience for me.  As an English major, I concentrate on novels, plays, short stories, and the occasional poem, but the script coverage process allowed me to really explore the medium of the screenplay.  No other form places as much importance on character development through action and dialogue, and scenes of charged conversation were always my favorites.  Screenplays make for an infectious reading experience--regardless of the merits or faults of a script, I just couldn't put it down!

The Experience of Sundance

by Abigail Harri, Class of 2014

During 2012 Intersession, Film & Media Studies majors traveled to the Sundance Film Festival.

"To our luck, a small group of Johns Hopkins University Film and Media Studies students were able to travel together to Park City, Utah for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Many have heard of the popular emerging films from the Festival this year: that top-rated child-hero flick, or maybe that action of all action pictures, the Welsh directed, Indonesian-made visceral smack in the face. But beyond the reviews and beastly raids at the box office for the popular films of the fest, what was it like to be at Sundance, in the midst of the buzz for all of these things before they were a thing?"

Read more about Abby's experience.

Film & Media Studies Students Read for 2011
Baltimore Screenwriters Competition

For the sixth year, Hopkins FMS students, in conjunction with students from Morgan State University's Film & Television Writing Program, provided coverage of scripts for the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition.

FMS Faculty Screening: Works and Works in Progress by Carlos Valdes-Lora, Class of 2010

Filmmakers Talk Art, Passion and Undying Love by Alexandra Byer, Class of 2011

Film & Media Studies Students Read for 2011 Baltimore Screenwriters Competition

Checking the Facts for Charm City by Glennis Markison, Class of 2013

The 2010 Baltimore Screenwriters Competition: Hopkins student readers provide some insight into the coverage process

"Moleque" an interview with Diana Peralta, Film & Media Studies student featured at the MidAtlantic Black Film Festival by Carlos Valdes-Lora, Class of 2010

Sundance Film Festival: The Scoop on Scoring Tickets by Clare Richardson, Class of 2012

Film Boot Camp by Alexandra Byer, Class of 2011

Hopkins Film Students Read for the 4th Annual Baltimore Screenwriters Competition by Christen Cromwell, Class of 2009