Now showing: Film Studies


Cowlin’s corner: Cowlin’s own nod to a time before the digital age in cinema is the VHS movie boxes lining the corner of the Film Studies room, a time when picking a film all depended on the movie box art and summary on the back. Photo by Alisha Zachariah

Grace Clark and Layla Mohamed

The lights are dimmed, the glow of the movie screen reflects on everyone’s faces, and there is excitement as the movie begins, but this is not a movie theater. This is room 2187, the Film Studies classroom. Here, students explore film style, mechanics of film, genres, and more,  John Cowlin, English and Film Studies Teacher, explained.

“[We have different] first- and second-semester movies,” Cowlin said. “We are not going to have any of them cross over because we want to make sure that any kid who takes the first semester that ends up in the second semester [has] a whole new experience.”

The course is primarily project and discussion-based, Scott Glass, English and Film Studies Teacher, said.

“The whole point is you want to be able to have a conversation,” Glass said. “You want to hear about the things that people pick up on that maybe other people didn’t, or how a certain movie might open up somebody’s eyes to something that they hadn’t been aware of.”

In addition to this style of learning, one of the assignments students enjoyed was the “one perfect shot,” according to sophomore Erin Reeve who took the class for one semester.

“We picked a single shot from the movie that we liked, and discussed the components of it,” Reeve said. “Seeing everyone’s favorite shot and why they liked it [made] it easier to appreciate every detail and put into perspective how much goes into making a movie.”

Senior Tania Faraj recommended the class because it it was a good way to unwind at the end of her day, while introducing her to a variety of films she would not have watched in her free time.

“It has [changed my perspective on films]  because now when I watch movies, I don’t just look to find a good movie to watch to keep myself entertained,” Faraj explained. “I look for things that make a great film, which I wouldn’t have done before. It just really opened my eyes to perspectives on film.”

Teaching Film Studies has taught Glass to be a more thoughtful movie consumer, learning something new through the teaching process. He also enjoys seeing how students respond to the movies.

“​​The real fun [is] being able to introduce people to [new] things that just makes their experience, in this case of movies, just that much more deep and resonant and beautiful,” Glass said.