Media Art Student at the UFVA
Geoff Tarulli is a current MFA student in Emerson College’s Visual Media Arts department, focusing on documentary film.
“I’m glad summer is here and things will finally slow down!”
This was the good-natured lie I was telling myself at the end of the Spring semester this academic year. But, of course, things never really do slow down when you’re a filmmaker, particularly if you’re also an MFA student.
This summer has seen me working my regular full-time job, enacting a fourteen week fund drive on Kickstarter.com for my current documentary project (Movies of the Future with Lloyd Kaufman), planning and shooting some of that film all while doing research for a series of five experimental short movies I’ll be doing for my thesis project in the coming year. Apparently I decided this wasn’t enough, however, and when I was selected to present an original screenplay at the annual University Film and Video Association convention, I jumped at the chance.
For those who don’t know, the UFVA is a nation-wide organization made up of educators in film and video. They also open up membership to graduate students. During my spring semester I was encouraged to check the group out by my “Pedagogy of Media” professor Robert Sabal. Professor Sabal is also the in-coming president of the UFVA. He told me I should submit some work since the convention would be held a (relatively) short drive away at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. I submitted a script I had worked on in my “Writing the Short Subject” class earlier that year and was accepted.
Since my work was being presented, I applied to the Graduate Student Association and received a Professional Development Grant. In short, the GSA sets aside money to help students go to conferences where their work is being presented in order to help them develop professionally. (You can learn more about Professional Development Grants here. My application was accepted and the GSA paid for me to attend and stay at the conference.
As someone who is interested in both making films as well as eventually teaching at the college level, the conference offered a vast pool of information for me. The panels that presented academic papers focusing on specific challenges of teaching in a growing and changing field like film and video offered great insight to what I may find in the classroom as an instructor.
There were also specific panels concerning the impact of new technology and equipment on how students make movies. There were a number of presentations on the so-called “Digital SLR Revolution” which allows both students and some professionals to shoot entire HD films on small cameras like the Canon 7D. Other panels such as Images of Violence Against Women in Student Films took a deeper look into the role of gender issues in student movies.
The environment was both very academic and laid back. You might spend almost two hours in a debate with a colleague about the importance of students learning to shoot on film before video only to go to the cafeteria and eat lunch with a group at shared tables in what felt like a very Summer Camp type environment. While many people had been to this convention every year for the last decade or more, I was a newbie. Still, I found the climate very open and warm. Strangers would sit down at my table during breakfast with questions about the new Emerson MFA program or to tell me about the time they visited Boston. I made some good connections in the academic world and certainly learned a lot not only about the teaching climate in 2010, but about the field of film and video in general.
There is some good news for those of you thinking about going to next year’s convention: it’s going to be held right here at Emerson College! This would be a great opportunity to get your feet wet with the UFVA without having to plan a trip or find a hotel. A quick note—in order to attend you must be a member, but the UFVA offers student rates that make membership very affordable.
I not only got a lot out of the convention from a professional stand-point, I also had a blast. Hope to see you at the 2011 UFVA convention.