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Camera Ready.

Students shooting a film
The famous and near-famous will grace the red carpet during the upcoming Oscars ceremony in Hollywood later this month, but did you know that we have our own celebration here in Kingston?

At the end of every semester, the film/media program in the Harrington School of Communication and Media throws a fest to screen students’ short films—and showcase their talents in front of parents, friends and faculty.

“The auditorium is completely packed,’’ says Rebecca Romanow, program director. “The films are just wonderful.’’

The film/media program has grown considerably since it was created as a major a decade ago. It offers hands-on experience in documentary, experimental and narrative filmmaking, along with courses in film history, international cinema, and criticism and theory.

Technology has revolutionized the film industry, so at URI we make sure students are up to speed on film, digital video and new media. The production courses are cutting-edge; students learn how to shoot with a variety of equipment, from 16 mm to digital video to iPhones. For many students, the highlight is making their own films.

Our students are amazingly engaged. They love to come to class to make movies, to talk about movies. It’s a tight-knit group. It’s a wonderful atmosphere to work and grow in.

“Every year, the films get better and better,’’ says film lecturer Keith Brown. “That’s a testament to our commitment to growing this program.’’

Films range from dramas and mockumentories (or fake documentaries) to comedies and experimental shorts. Amelia Votta, a senior majoring in film/media, has written, directed and produced three films, including one starring a loner and a piñata. “I love the film program at URI,’’ says Votta. “We have so many out-of-the classroom experiences, and the faculty is devoted. Our program is not just sit and learn, but ‘Let’s go do it.’ ’’

Internships are a key part of the program. Students get experience on movie sets and at television studios. They make films for nonprofits. And some students go overseas to study film in France, Italy and even the Czech Republic. During the winter break, some students grab a GoPro and film their underwater adventures in Belize.

“Our students are amazingly engaged,’’ says Romanow. “They love to come to class to make movies, to talk about movies. It’s a tight-knit group. It’s a wonderful atmosphere to work and grow in.’’

The program will continue to flourish with state-of-the-art editing rooms in the $6.3 million renovation of Ranger Hall—the Harrington School’s future home. Expect more lights, camera and action next fall when the new digs are scheduled to open.

“I continue to be impressed by the creative work of our students, both stylistically and thematically,” says Thomas Zorabedian, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the film faculty. “It’s an exciting time to be a film major at URI, or even take a film course, as we continue to be innovative in our approach to teaching about moving images.”

If you’re curious about what our students are creating, grab a bag of popcorn and take a sneak peek at some of the best films from our end-of-the-semester screenings: lights, camera, action.

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