By Dr. Kirsten Moana Thompson, Director of Film Studies
2017-2018 was an exciting year in Film Studies. Two new film faculty will be joining the Film Studies Program from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Alex Johnston (Ph.D. ‘17, Film and Digital Media) will be Assistant Professor of Film Production, while Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa (Ph.D. ‘18, Film and Digital Media) will be Assistant Professor of Film Studies.
Last year, the Film Program hosted a number of stellar events and speakers. In collaboration with Northwest Screenwriting, we hosted Producer and creative consultant Wendy Kram, (Sony/Universal/Disney) and comic book/TV writer Brita Lundin (Riverdale, Ship It!). We also organized two special discussion seminars with guests from faculty and the film industry on the #MeToo Harvey Weinstein scandals.
Our program developed two new partnerships with the Tasveer (Southasian) Film Festival and the Social Justice Film Festival (SJFF). Through our new sponsored relationship with SJFF, we host screenings of the festival on campus each year, along with other shared activities, including student internships and curricular collaboration with the Social Justice Film Festival and the Duwamish Digital Quilt. This year’s theme was “Hope and Democracy”; SJFF launched on October 11th in collaboration with TWIST (LGBTQ fest) with a special themed program on Transgender and Race featuring a large selection of films exploring Black Lives Matter. The film “Change in the Family,” explored transgender and mixed race identities. On Oct 14, the program focused on art and children in “Go Penguins!” and sex trafficking in “The Turn Out.” Click here to see the full SJFF lineup.
Our Film program also had multiple screenings and discussions on campus, including Alvin Tsiang's Reunification (on immigration), Promised Land (on recognition of Salish tribes in the Northwest); Gabby Antonio Smashes the Imperialist, White Supremacist, Capitalist Patriarchy! (a woman of color's comedic approach to issues around race, class and power) and the comic-educational webseries The Secret Life of Muslims.
We also launched an ongoing research seminar series in collaboration with English Department faculty. Film contributions included John Trafton’s "A Land of Wolves: Sicario and the New Drug War Film," and Kirsten Moana Thompson’s "Contested Territories and Animated Surfaces in Moana from Flaherty to Disney."
Film sponsored the Seattle University Film Festival and the Bigfoot Seattle Film Institute with cofounder and SU instructor Jonathan Keasey. Our collaboration with the Bigfoot Seattle Film Institute also created the opportunity for Film to sponsor a new, uniquely Northwest scriptwriting competition, the Bigfoot Northwest Script Challenge, which offers unparalleled Hollywood access to the next great voices in screenwriting. The competition aims to raise Seattle’s profile as a filmmaking powerhouse as entrants compete for valuable exclusive fellowships with top industry professionals from the most famous studios in Hollywood.Students doing green screen work in the Media Production Center
As part of the partnership, eight Seattle U Film Studies students are working as volunteer interns with Film Studies instructor and Hollywood screenwriter Jonathan Keasey on the new competition, including Henry Brown, Jillian Foote, Nils Gollersud, Nathan Graham, Mathew MacDonald, Eric Mura, Cade Taylor, and Amy Williams.
SU students can also enter and compete to win an opportunity for their scripts to be read by some of the top names in Hollywood, like Chris Lockhart, head of story at talent agency juggernaut WME, and John Cheng, President of Kevin Hart’s HeartBeat Productions, as well as many notables from Seattle’s vibrant indie film community. Students have the opportunity to learn more about the Hollywood business, network, and prepare for their professional careers after graduation. Top film-industry professionals will award two grand prizes and one runner up each in three categories: original screenplay, television pilot, and digital short. The awards will be announced at the Seattle Film Summit, scheduled for November 17 and 18, 2018.
The first fellowship announced is with the Paramount Studios’ company, Broken Road Productions, and producer Sean Robbins of Tom Cruise’s “Knight and Day” and Jeremy Renner’s upcoming movie, “TAG.” The programs are designed to advance the writer’s material and career. “Fellowships are a smart and relatively easy way to do something that’s extremely hard: get your work seen by someone who can actually make a difference,” says Mr. Robbins.
Seattle native, Writers Guild of America professional, and SU Visiting Professor of Screenwriting Jonathan Keasey is excited about the potential. “The Pacific Northwest has a pool of talent that hasn't been fully tapped. We're excited to bring our two creative communities together in hopes of generating some amazing content.”
Film Students and Alumni of Note
Film major Suzanne McAuley was accepted to MFA program in Writing and Producing for Television at Long Island University.
Megan Leonard ’12, SIFF Programming Coordinator and independent producer at Visual Pollution, recently interviewed Ethan Hawke as part of his visit and career award at the 2018 Seattle International Film Festival.