Student Testimonials - Film Minor

Erika Sexson, English and Film Minor Alumna
Psychology and Film Minor Student

“I have used everything I have learned in all of my film classes in one way or another. Especially, when it comes to analyzing film and film theory. They have really helped me in my working on my second degree in Psychology. The way a film is viewed as a student, then as a filmmaker, and then again as a moviegoer again . . . I don’t look at anything the same. I try to look at everything from several perspectives. In psych, you do the same thing, but with people. Since finishing my minor in film I haven’t looked a movie, read a book, people watched, done anything in my life without looking at it critically, or through several perspectives. I have literally taken everything I have learned and applied it pretty much daily, or as often as I can. I have introduced some of my psych professors to films and documentaries that I have watched while studying film, and applied the way I view a film to case studies and other homework I have had in psych classes.”

“Creating a documentary was singularly the most defining moment of my college career. I saw film from every perspective: Conception, Filming, Editing, Student, and Viewer. It is what has allowed me to view anything and everything from more perspectives than I thought possible and has helped me bring a unique perspective and take on how I view my different psychology classes.”

Dan Nehring, English and Film Minor Alumnus,
Staff Writer, Native Sun Natural Foods Market

“I took my first film class as an open elective and simply hoped that it would be an easy and fun way to watch some movies and earn some credits at the same time. As we began to look at the cultural influences, historical context, and theories regarding each particular film, I was hooked. Every scene opened up a world of interpretive possibilities that helped me to further hone my skills as a writer. As an English major, I was used to staring at words on the page and conjuring images in my head. With film, I suddenly had the ability to look at lighting, camera placement, shot length, dialogue, and countless other elements that often forced me to rethink my interpretations. I recommend that any student seriously interested in writing enroll in a film class. I came into the film program with a chip on my shoulder, an English major who could out-write any film major and BS my way through a film class. I was soon humbled and pushed by my professors to look deeper into the material than I had ever looked before. I began to ask questions and demand more of my interpretations. I wanted to actually ‘say’ something, not just write a shallow paper that earned a passing grade. I credit the UNF film program alone for turning me into the writer I am today (still developing and always learning, but much better than I ever thought I could be). I cannot write even a simple article at work without thinking about how my professors in the film program might react or critique it. I don't know how I wrote anything before the film program!”

Kelly Baker, English Major and Education Minor

“As an English major my responsibility has been mostly to study written works. Film expanded the scope of my study by presenting works that operate at levels other than the written word. It is an enriching experience to interact with something that is visual, auditory, and that moves; where literature is at the mercy of the way I read it, the a film is alive and all its own (it moves at its own speed, it makes noise, etc). Because of how immersive and startling it is to watch a film, I have to be on my toes. I am forced to give up all my usual tricks of analysis that come from the habit of studying literature. Watching a film forces me to be open and receptive. This receptivity I found in myself is what made film study truly rewarding.”

“Inland Empire (Lynch 2006) made a tremendous impact on me. I remember being confused, deeply so, on a conscious level for the entirety of this film. Yet there was something about all the loose ends, all the fractured bits of story, that suggested a coherence that was beyond my ability to immediately grasp. It was captivating in its inaccessibility. The narrative was loose, full of sinking ground, and some of it was terrifying for no obvious reason. It was scary, the way that a nightmare in which nothing much happens is scary. It was full of colors. It made no sense. It was long. It made no effort to explain itself to me.

Although it spoke to me on an emotional level, in my mind, as I watched it, there was no sense (as there almost always is of something I’m studying) of a jigsaw puzzle that is taking some shape. There was just a mess. I became willing to accept the mess. In a larger sense I began to accept that a work can be a mess and function. It’s been over a year now since I’ve seen this film and I no longer think of it as a “mess.” It’s been very liberating for me as a writer and as a thinker (and occasionally as a student) to understand how I don’t have to strive to be accessible in a traditional sense. Sometimes to be accessible is to lose your voice. It’s ok to be messy.”

James Edmonds, Public Relations and English Alumnus

“The moment of having my film played at Art Walk was a moment I can never forget. It changed my life. So much that I came back to UNF to get a second degree in English. That experience was a powerful life changer. I wake up every morning now determined to get back in school again just so that I can further pursue my career in film.

The one thing that I admire about these film courses is the production process and grinding mentality one must have to complete the project. I learned how to be consistent, I learned how to be persistent, and I learned it takes teamwork to bring the best out.”

Shana Kerby, English Major and Film Minor

“For me, film at UNF has been the best part of school. I didn't feel like I had a "home" until I started really being a part of the film community. The professors here are an amazing asset. They care about their students' success and they present the most thought provoking, exotic ideas. They present prescient film analysis and provoke independent thought. If it were a major, I'd sign up straight away.

Specifically, the film department at UNF has taught me true film analysis as well as exposed me to films I might not have seen otherwise. Most of the innovative films we watched will stay with me forever. There were documentaries entered in film festivals like Lucy Tsak Tsak (Paounov 2001) and A Thousand Words, which was shown at the 2004 Sundance and Cannes film festivals. There were films from documentary greats like Werner Herzog and Frederick Wiseman. There was H2O (Steiner 1929) that was preserved in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress and inspired my first documentary filmmaking experience, Buckman. I wouldn't know film greats like Ozu, Kurosawa, Mizoguchi if it weren't for this program.

I count cuts in every film I watch now. I can explain a tatami shot, diagetic/ non-diagetic sound, depth-of-field and graphic matches. I can provide an outline for American film history and execute the vertigo effect. I can set-up a film shoot and edit everything in Final Cut. These are all things I couldn't do before.

This program has enriched my life. So far, I've made 3 films and I can't wait to make more. Film is now a true love of mine. After I finish my undergraduate degree, I plan on pursuing film school. I have the UNF film program to thank.”

Hayley Perkins, English and Film Minor Alumna
VFX Production Assistant: Digital Domain, Venice, CA

“For me, the most valuable thing about studying film at UNF was getting the opportunity to actually make a short film in a classroom setting. I learned an enormous amount about film history and styles as a Film Studies minor, which has been invaluable for me, but it was the hands-on experience of creating a documentary that I cherished most. I gained not only basic skills for making a short film, but also confidence in my own artistic decisions. I appreciate that the most because it led me to really pursue a career in film.”

Andrea Paxton, English Graduate Student

“The entire Vietnam Cinema class was an incredibly moving experience for me, and simply by watching some of the films we watched, I am changed in my perspective. A single experience, and a powerful one like a really great film can provide, can change a person. We saw several powerful films, and I can't imagine walking away from the class without having larger questions regarding war, political and economic interests of warring countries, and ethical racial issues that become more prominent in the face of challenging times.
I highly appreciated seeing more deeply (and therefore being able to better analyze) the connections between cultural and political influences and their impact on the evolution of cinema. Depending on the socio-political environment of the time, a film may either try to expose or further confuse and suppress hot topics. I liked thinking about how what is represented on screen – and especially what is left out – can reflect intricate social truths and fears.”

Jon Kanak, English and Film Minor Alumnus,
Associate Manager in Training, Los Angeles, CA

“My most valuable experience studying film at UNF actually came from something that, at the time, I did not see the value in: watching movies from the 40's and 50's. Many of the remake rights to movies from this era are being bought, and this signals a slow return (hopefully) to quality content, rather than the "toy-driven" films that have been providing studios with their summer tentpoles. Watching these older films helped me understand a different style of story telling - something that is invaluable in this industry. The best experience I had while studying film at UNF was really having the ability to study film. The American Survey class itself was phenomenal. Being in it was a constant reminder that my ambition was realistic.”

Patrick Rodifer, English and Film Minor alumus
Drama Director, St. Johns County Day School

“Everything we did in the documentary class made an impression on me. Just being around young people with unique and fresh views, and their acceptance of my ideas and views, made me a better student and person.

There were so many films that I loved, but it was a moment in the 70's film class I will never forget. We watched The Deerhunter, a film I had seen in the theater when it came out (I'm so old!), and after the movie was over I noticed a young female student crying. I walked over to her and put my arm around her and asked if she was alright. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "It is just so hard, so sad..." That to me is the impact of great film, great storytelling. It pulls you in and makes you a part, no matter how sad and painful. Watching those 70's films, and being able to share my experiences at the time they came out, really meant a lot to me. It was validation for me, and allowed me to talk about films like Rocky, Billy Jack, The Deerhunter, Saturday Night Fever, and others that really defined my younger years. These classes and teaching were truly inspirational to me, so much so, that I became a teacher and will (finally) be teaching a film class this fall at my school (that is already full!). I will never forget my experience at UNF, and will always owe you one. You led me to the greatest job I have ever had! It truly is a passion, not a job.”

Dave Wilson, Graphic Design Alumus
Coordinator of Educational Media, CIRT, UNF

“The documentary classes I’ve taken at UNF provided a formal approach to the documentary process. After taking two semesters of the documentary film class I am confidential that I can create my own film or work as a crew member, filling any role on someone else’s film. In addition to the creative skills, I have learned film literacy. I am better able to view a film critically and analyze how shots are setup and what the different components communicate to the viewer.”

 

Film Info

Dr. Jillian Smith
Associate Professor of
English & Film
 

jlsmith@unf.edu


Dr. Jason Mauro
Associate Professor of
English & Film

 

 jmauro@unf.edu

 

Dr. Nicholas de Villiers
Associate Professor of
English & Film

 

 ndevilliers@unf.edu

 

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