Bo Broder ’20: Blending Film Theory and Production for a Holistic Understanding of the Field
I started out my first year at Vanderbilt in two film classes: Fundamentals of Film Production and Introduction to Film and Media Studies. It was easy to quickly find my home in the Cinema and Media Arts program, for a variety of reasons. I found the balance of theory and production really important as someone who was new to both, and because it’s a pretty tight-knit major, the professors are really invested in the students and super involved. Going to screenings with my classmates was another valuable experience my first year that I continued to appreciate throughout my time in the program because it was also really fun and interesting.
One of the most important skills I’ve gained from my time in CMA is the ability to draw continual connections between films, culture, history, and theory in a way that makes me feel better able to appreciate the medium overall. It was this skill that made me feel the most confident in my growth at Vanderbilt.
One of my favorite things about the program is how interdisciplinary it is. Throughout my time at Vanderbilt, I was able to study film through the lenses of my other studies, including gender studies and communications, by taking classes that used film to communicate the content we learned, and by taking film classes that explored those topics as well. I was also able to incorporate many of my other interests, including trans issues, race, disability theory, and economics. I had multiple professors who I took classes with within the CMA program as well within other programs they taught classes in. I was particularly inspired to embrace the intertextualities I found within those classes by one such professor, Claire King, whose works were some of my favorites to read in my Communications classes, especially the one about The Babadook (you should google it).
When it comes to learning production, the CMA program is rigorous, thorough, sometimes demanding, but always rewarding. It was the intensity and exhaustiveness of the program that allowed my classmates and I to look back on films we’d made previous years and laugh because of the knowledge of how far we’d come in such a short time. That, and the embarrassment of seeing ourselves forced to act in various scenes from late 90’s/early 2000’s movies, courtesy of Prof. Waters’ ruthless (but perhaps well-meaning?) casting in Digital Production Workshop. By the end of the program, I felt capable of creating short films as a means of expression, not just for class projects. It was also really incredible to see the final work of the students I had been in classes with for years, because it was so diverse and so well done, which told me that not only had everyone learned a lot, but everyone had learned a lot about all different things.