Forbes' 30 Under 30, 2020
“FMS was the perfect blend of traditional film school and independent study, where I learned the fundamentals of filmmaking without feeling beholden to academic bureaucracy. After completing the introductory and intermediate courses, I had access to equipment and tools to bring my ideas to cinematic life; the only limitation was my own motivation. The support from professors and staff is tremendous. They are enablers of ideas and creativity, and the program is intimate enough that your professors become mentors, even lifelong friends. My ability to pursue independent study in the program has proved crucial to my success as a screenwriter-director in Hollywood, where the ability and confidence I gained from JHU to be a self-starter launched my career. In my time at JHU, I supplemented my film studies with classes at the FAMU film school in the Czech Republic, an endeavor the FMS faculty helped me achieve. Since I’ve graduated, the program has expanded in exciting ways. The new space on North Avenue is incredible, with state-of-the-art equipment, mixing booths, sound and stage studios, computer labs, and green screens. I wish I could go back!”
Emma Needell is a screenwriter and director who champions original storytelling in a time when Hollywood has become obsessed with reboots, sequels, and IP-driven content. Her talent caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films, which produced her breakout script, The Water Man, when Needell was 24 years old. The Water Man was featured on the 2015 Blacklist, and in 2019 was made into a feature-length film directed by David Oyelowo. Needell has since worked with Oscar-winning directors and producers, and has projects at MGM/Orion, Netflix, and Anonymous Content. She was featured on Forbes’ 2020 “30 Under 30” list. Most recently, Life Rendered, a short film written and directed by Needell had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, 2022.