Comments & Testimonials

Partner College Film Faculty

Bernadine Mellis, Film Studies,

Mount Holyoke College


This program is amazing! Mount Holyoke students who participated last year were transformed, inspired, and technically trained by it in ways I can't imagine they would be in any other context. In fact, Ali Pugh is in my class this term and she spoke to the class about how invaluable her experience was last year. We will definitely encourage students to participate in the program when it is offered again in the future.

Ross Morin, Film Production,

Connecticut College


Its clear that Patrick (Myers) got an excellent education working on the film - he's quite the asset to have in my production class right now.  All the stuff you did together has given him very valuable tools and skill sets.  If the other students working on the project got even half as much as he did out of it, you've done a great job!

Wini Wood, Wellesley Film Studies Chair,

in a note to Provost Andy Sherman

 

The outcomes are striking.  Most notable is the level of maturity and confidence our students achieve:  they return not only deeply committed to their work in film, but with the energy and skill to move themselves forward, to figure out next steps, to contact people, to make plans for the future. That future is both immediate (what can they most productively do for their two remaining semesters at Wellesley?) and long-term (how do they develop a path through the film industry?).  

 

Our students return more deeply conversant in film—not just film production, but film studies.  They’ve seen more films than we are able to screen here, and studied them in a way that sticks:  and the films they come to know well are excellent ones.  They return with incredible production skills, and with vastly improved writing skills (they have, after all, taken a demanding screenwriting course, but also have had to write about their work all the way through the semester).

Students

 

Patrick Myers - Connecticut College
Thank you so much for this opportunity. For as long as I can remember, after firefighters and astronauts, I wanted to be a film director. This experience has helped me see into that world, and expose me to the reality of its depth. I could never have imagined the intricacy of relationships not only on the crew but with the entire cast and public. Furthermore, it was inspiring to see so many students and members of the community come together under the direction of an assembly of caring and trusting professionals. I cannot thank you enough for this experience.

Katherine Harrison - Sarah Lawrence
If you had told me this past summer that I would be spending spring semester of my sophomore year in Vermont working on a period film, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told me how involved and respected I would be as a student, and that I would ultimately be given the position of Second Assistant Director on set, there is absolutely no way I would have believed you.  The satisfaction gained from knowing you helped create something larger than yourself is truly invaluable, and I am very grateful for the experience. Thank you!

Anna Pinchuk – Wellesley
I would do this again in a heartbeat. My learning experience was phenomenal.  I felt I was constantly learning -- set etiquette, how to communicate with an actor to get the performance you desire, how a film cuts together and how the crew interacts with each other to make the film.  

This project was an incredibly unique experience -- not only to learn the practical aspects of a film set and filmmaking but also to understand how difficult producing independent film when you are facing constraints day in and day out. I loved the group of students I worked with because we all ended up being professionals once filming started and it was in general and amazing group of individuals.  The only thing I would recommend as a general note is that students applying to the program really should be aware that they have to be at the top of their game from the get-go.  Putting their best foot forward.

I would just like to end on the following note.  I think this program would have been nothing, NOTHING, without the great group of students we had working together but I also think it would have been less than nothing if we did not have the group of professional mentors that we had on the project.  I hope to continue working in film and on film sets and all I can say is that everyone from now on will always be compared to the crew we had on this film because it was a group of individuals who really committed and believed in the practical learning and teaching aspects of film. These people really made the experience so unforgettable and so valuable to all students.  Thank you!


Saniya Mirwani – Sarah Lawrence College
I just wanted to let you know that this experience was genuinely one of the best experiences of my life that I will never ever forget. I feel like I learned more this semester than I ever have in my time at Sarah Lawrence.

Thank you for being so understanding and patient with each and every one of us and taking all of our MANY opinions into consideration.  Having worked in production I was able to understand the nuances in the making of a movie. Due to the tasks assigned to me I was able to hone my people skills, my time management capabilities and all aspects of project management.

At the beginning of the semester, we were truly starting this project from scratch. From making MAJOR script changes to location scouting, scheduling and casting, each and every student was involved in some aspect or the other in trying to make this film come alive.  I worked on every aspect of casting and I remember spending an entire week, speaking to every actor’s agent, manager - and our casting director.  We wrote their offer letters and deal memos which usually required changes every time one of the parties read it. I found myself reading books about entertainment law and SAG guidelines to a point wherein I could remember which page number a certain law was. This was one of the most fun experiences for me off set.

I feel like this program has completely changed my perspective on so many things. Personally, it has given me SO much confidence. I feel like before coming to this program, I was uncertain about my abilities and my interest in filmmaking, but by the second day on set, I was absolutely in love with the organized chaos of it all.  I loved the adrenaline rush. I just knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.


Carol Song – Mount Holyoke College
I think one of the most important insights I gained from this film intensive semester is that I saw and experienced a real production and decided that film is the thing I want to do.  I knew I loved film, but I was wondering about the possibility that I might not enjoy real production.  So it was crucial for me to have this real experience, to see if I really want to do it.  And the answer is “Yes I Do!”

This program creates a very inclusive and warm environment for socializing and communication.  After two years of studying in a foreign country, it is the first time I am not always reassured that I am an outsider. It is the first time that I feel people are willing to listen to me and know me personally. I felt myself existing as an individual, and language was suddenly not an unavoidable barrier/an irresolvable problem as I often experienced.  I could make jokes, talk about films, and discuss life and work and the production with other students in this program – more easily than anywhere else I’ve been.

This has been the high point for my whole college experience, so far. It is impossible to explain how precious this experience is to me, but those people I met and those friends I made in this program will be the best memory that stays with me.


Cathy Ye, Wellesley College
My goodness, to sum up this entire experience. It was such a rich, meaningful time of growth, learning, self-reflection, friendship, and camaraderie that changed form and meaning constantly, but now after this whirlwind has passed, in its wake the effect is felt strongly.

This experience solidified my desire to become a cinematographer and made me realize, when I direct my own films, I like working with small crews where experimentation and play are welcome and forgiving.

The RELATIONSHIPS. Omg, the students. I am honoured to be a part of this special group that possessed such a wonderful camaraderie and is composed of such uniquely special individuals. I very much look forward to all the projects on which I will be collaborating with students from this program. Already, I have a surrealist short film slated for production in China that I am planning on involving Quinn and Carol on (and anyone else who learns Chinese by then, haha) :)

These connections and relationships are also the ones that will most stay with me down the road.


Lukas Olson, Augsburg University
I don’t think there could have been a better end to my college/film school experience than Cinema Sarah Lawrence. Had I stayed at Augsburg University for my final semester, I would have been able to work in a small group on a final short film project with a tiny budget, if any. There is no way I would have been able to experience the dynamics, challenges, teamwork, and rhythms of a professional feature film production had I stayed at Augsburg.

Also, the fact that it is gathering together students from liberal arts colleges is great, because these colleges tend to do really well at encouraging students to connect disparate interests and seemingly contradictory fields of study, but don’t do well at providing real-life, practical experience.

Spending the first week at Sundance was an amazing way to start the program.. It was not only inspired me as a filmmaker, but made me feel like a part of the Cinema Sarah Lawrence community right away. The spartan housing was a great experience; I didn’t mind falling asleep to a chorus of snoring in the dormitory.

I would do Cinema Sarah Lawrence again without a question. It was simply one of the best learning experiences I have ever had.

The outcomes are striking.  Most notable is the level of maturity and confidence our students achieve:  they return not only deeply committed to their work in film, but with the energy and skill to move themselves forward, to figure out next steps, to contact people, to make plans for the future. That future is both immediate (what can they most productively do for their two remaining semesters at Wellesley?) and long-term (how do they develop a path through the film industry?).  

Our students return more deeply conversant in film—not just film production, but film studies.  They’ve seen more films than we are able to screen here, and studied them in a way that sticks:  and the films they come to know well are excellent ones.  They return with incredible production skills, and with vastly improved writing skills (they have, after all, taken a demanding screenwriting course, but also have had to write about their work all the way through the semester).

Perhaps most important of all, they have learned to work on a team, to collaborate—and they pass their own joy in collaboration back on to their Wellesley sisters, setting up team projects, drawing younger CAMS (Cinema and Media Studies) majors into their work.  “Joy” might be the operative word here:  they return with a sense of joy that carries them through their senior year and transmits itself to others.

When the students who had worked on Peter and John returned to campus in Fall 2014, they heard Andy’s convocation speech, in which he emphasized the importance of understanding vocation in a liberal arts context, and they knew they had a mission:  to show how their film intensive semester had been just that for them.  They felt they knew exactly how the liberal arts undergird the work they want to do in the world.

Our relationship with Jay Craven’s film intensive semester has been central to the success of Wellesley's CAMS program in recent years.  Many of our students want to go abroad for a semester, but there are few production programs we can recommend to them, and none that offer experience on the scale that Jay’s program offers. For certain CAMS majors, this “semester abroad in Vermont” is the ideal solution.  The program offers an ideal way for students to receive advanced production credit.  And above all, students learn production in a fully integrated way, coming to understand how script, light, sound, production design, and cinematography work together.  

Finally, Jay is a superb teacher and mentor:  he works with each student’s strengths and weaknesses, returns detailed feedback to us on each student’s performance after the program is over, and maintains strong connections with all of his former students long after the program is over, helping them find work and make connections.

Wini Wood, Wellesley Film Studies Chair,

in a note to Provost Andy Sherman

 

The outcomes are striking.  Most notable is the level of maturity and confidence our students achieve:  they return not only deeply committed to their work in film, but with the energy and skill to move themselves forward, to figure out next steps, to contact people, to make plans for the future. That future is both immediate (what can they most productively do for their two remaining semesters at Wellesley?) and long-term (how do they develop a path through the film industry?).  

 

Our students return more deeply conversant in film—not just film production, but film studies.  They’ve seen more films than we are able to screen here, and studied them in a way that sticks:  and the films they come to know well are excellent ones.  They return with incredible production skills, and with vastly improved writing skills (they have, after all, taken a demanding screenwriting course, but also have had to write about their work all the way through the semester).

 

Perhaps most important of all, they have learned to work on a team, to collaborate—and they pass their own joy in collaboration back on to their Wellesley sisters, setting up team projects, drawing younger CAMS (Cinema and Media Studies) majors into their work.  “Joy” might be the operative word here:  they return with a sense of joy that carries them through their senior year and transmits itself to others.

 

When the students who had worked on Peter and John returned to campus in Fall 2014, they heard Andy’s convocation speech, in which he emphasized the importance of understanding vocation in a liberal arts context, and they knew they had a mission:  to show how their film intensive semester had been just that for them.  They felt they knew exactly how the liberal arts undergird the work they want to do in the world.

 

Our relationship with Jay Craven’s film intensive semester has been central to the success of Wellesley's CAMS program in recent years.  Many of our students want to go abroad for a semester, but there are few production programs we can recommend to them, and none that offer experience on the scale that Jay’s program offers. For certain CAMS majors, this “semester abroad in Vermont” is the ideal solution.  The program offers an ideal way for students to receive advanced production credit.  And above all, students learn production in a fully integrated way, coming to understand how script, light, sound, production design, and cinematography work together.  

 

Finally, Jay is a superb teacher and mentor:  he works with each student’s strengths and weaknesses, returns detailed feedback to us on each student’s performance after the program is over, and maintains strong connections with all of his former students long after the program is over, helping them find work and make connections.

They have given me the tools to be successful in the film industry and I am eternally grateful.

– Austin Pellegrino, Northern Vermont University, Lyndon