Category: GEMA

Title:A Unique Alliance: The Georgetown Film & Media Studies Minor

Alumna Brit Marling (C’05) and actress Ellen Page meet with Associate Dean Bernie Cook and students from the Film and Media Studies Program to discuss their new movie, The East. Photos by Tess O’Conor. 

The Film and Media Studies Minor program, as part of  Georgetown college, was established in 2011 to provide students with the skills needed to understand, study, and create media, while exploring vital issues related to social justice including poverty, diversity, spirituality, ethics, enlightenment, and peace.

The program provides students with the skills needed to understand, study, and create media, while exploring vital issues related to social justice including poverty, diversity, spirituality, ethics, enlightenment, and peace. With an emphasis on visual storytelling, the program encourages social engagement and service to others through the study and development of narrative and documentary work in film, television, and new and emerging media technologies.

A Unique Alliance

The new program evolved out of a unique alliance between the University and GEMA, which is led by Richard Battista (B’86) and Catherine Hagney Brown (C ’84). Mr. Battista and Ms. Brown championed the project, playing a key role in developing the program’s concept and in coalescing alumni and entertainment industry passion and resources for its creation.

“Catherine and I, along with so many of our fellow Alumni and friends of the University in the entertainment and media industries, are thrilled with the launch of this unique program,” said Rich Battista, GEMA Founder and Chairman. “As at every stage of GEMA’s growth, we asked alumni and friends for help, and once again they responded. The passion we’ve put into making this program a reality is a reflection of why we started GEMA almost ten years ago: to bring together alumni, students and friends in the entertainment industry to benefit the Georgetown community and the world at large, while enhancing Georgetown’s place of leadership in shaping the cultural dialogue.”

“Stories can change lives. And stories told in moving images can reach millions in an instant. We saw a need for Georgetown to fill a special space in the study of visual media—one that prepares students with digital fluency, but with a Georgetown foundation of ethics and social justice,” said Catherine Hagney Brown, GEMA President. “We started imagining the program during the early days of GEMA when we met Dr. Bernie Cook (C ’90). We were so impressed with the work Bernie’s students produce in his class, Social Justice Video Documentary. As a result, we were excited to work with Bernie to expand to this Minor program and pledged to take a leadership role in securing the necessary resources to do so.”

About the Minor

The highly selective program launched with the following elements:

  • An undergraduate interdisciplinary minor offered at Georgetown College in film and media studies. Its unique curricular approach will integrate the study of moving image history and theory with the study and practice of media production. Through the minor, students will explore the relations between media and social justice.
  • A senior capstone project, produced in the student’s medium of choice.
  • Access to an array of sophisticated digital production facilities and equipment.
  • Visiting filmmakers, media-makers and scholars (including prominent alumni) at the forefront of media and social engagement making class visits, conducting master classes and appearing at campus and public events.
  • Film and Media Studies screening series.

Thank you to supporters

“The launch of the new minor would not be possible without the strong support of Georgetown alumni, especially the alumni leadership of the Georgetown Entertainment & Media Alliance,” said Chester Gillis, Dean, Georgetown College. “Three elements needed to come together to enable GU to establish Film and Media Studies: faculty expertise, student interest, and alumni accomplishment and support. We are fortunate to enjoy the strong support of our alumni, especially those affiliated with GEMA.”

Early stage philanthropic investors include:

  • Founding Donors: Brenda and Rich Battista (B’86), Georgia Irwin (B’92) and Breck Eisner (C’92) on behalf of the Eisner Foundation, and Catherine Hagney Brown (C’84) and Jeff Brown
  • Leadership Donor: Richard Hillenbrand II (C’97)
  • Supporting Donors: Kara (C’91) and David Corwin (B’91), Stephen G. Dormer (L’98), Jerry Longarzo, Jr. (B’84, L’87), Elizabeth Raposo (C’98) and Scott Thomas (C’98), and Edward Yablans (C’88).

With the contributions from these donors, as well as key support from additional donors outside of the entertainment and media industries who believe strongly in the importance of this minor for students, Georgetown has passed the two-thirds mark toward its $1.1M goal in support of the launch of this initiative. Georgetown, together with GEMA, is seeking additional investors to participate in the historic launch of this program.

“As a filmmaker, every day I witness how the power of the moving image is multiplying with every new platform and user,” said Director Breck Eisner (C’92). “Georgia and I are committed to helping bring this program to life because it will engage young people in the arts in ways that inspire them to make positive change in the world. Georgetown has a deep culture and long tradition of promoting service to others, making it exactly the right place for this program to thrive. We encourage our friends and colleagues from Georgetown and in the Hollywood community to get involved in this groundbreaking program.”

In addition to the many professional services and programs GEMA offers alumni and students, GEMA’s philanthropic engagement with Georgetown University has included partially funding the 67-seat state-of-the-art screening room on campus, to be renamed the GEMA Screening Room. Now, to fulfill its shared vision to create a truly unique film and media center at Georgetown University, GEMA is committed to helping Georgetown fund the Film and Media Studies program’s future and will continue to seek additional investors to expand its offerings. GEMA will also collaborate on content where appropriate, engage alumni as visiting faculty or speakers for on-campus events, provide current insight and professional support from the industry perspective, and offer career support for students and graduates.

“At Georgetown we believe that an excellent liberal arts education in the 21st Century must include serious, critical consideration of media,” said Associate Dean Bernie Cook, who will serve as the founding Director of Film and Media Studies. “Through the new minor, our students can explore how media shapes our access to and understanding of the real world. Through critical and creative work with media, they will learn to act more effectively in the world for the common good.”

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