Students attend Edinburgh International Film Festival on new FSP
By Jenny Che, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, August 3, 2012
Dartmouth students studying abroad at the Screen Academy Scotland at Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland had a welcome surprise in June when the Olympic torch passed right outside their school, prompting loud excitement and a quick dash out of the classroom to join the “cheering crowds,” according to film professor Jeffrey Ruoff. This summer marks the first time the film and media studies Foreign Study Program has been offered, and students interviewed by The Dartmouth said they have enjoyed learning about film production and exploring the city.
“We all rushed outside to join the cheering crowds,” film professor Jeffrey Ruoff said.
Ruoff created the program around the annual Edinburgh International Film Festival and was attracted to the idea of a festival in an English-speaking country, he said.
The program, attended by 12 students this year, emphasizes direct student collaboration with professionals in the film production field. Two classes, music video production and digital cinematography, are taught by local instructors, and Ruoff teaches a third film festival class.
“The students are following professional production practices on these projects, gaining experience in the real world of music video making,” Ruoff said.
During the festival, which ended in early July, students attended film screenings, panel discussions and gala openings, Ruoff said. Recently, the class watched “The French Connection” (1971), attended a question and answer session with the director and met American film critic Gerald Peary for a discussion on the film festival.
Robert McAvinue ’12, an English major who spent the Spring term of his senior year off campus in order to attend the Edinburgh FSP, said he has always been interested in pursuing film production professionally but never had the chance to fit the classes in his schedule.
“It was an easy decision,” he said.
At the film festival, McAvinue said the group had access to the opening night gala, where he ran into a few recognizable faces.
“I got to meet actress Freya Mavor from one of my favorite TV shows, ‘Skins,’ as well as director William Friedkin, who created ‘The Exorcist,’” McAvinue said.
Alex Stockton ’15 called the festival a “wild” experience.
“I watched 33 films and attended several talks in 10 days,” he said. “Afterwards, I had movie withdrawal.”
Ellen Park ’14 said she enjoyed working as a producer for music videos. “We had a 300-pound budget, which is roughly $600, and I had to run around asking strangers to be in our music video after being rejected by the acting and modeling agencies all around Edinburgh and Glasgow,” Park said.
Karenina Rojas ’14 said some of her most memorable moments include making a music video for Stanley Odd, a Scottish hip-hop group, becoming friends with locals in the LBGT Edinburgh scene and meeting the Scottish first minister.
Students, who live in flats, called the city “charming.”
“The people are incredibly nice and friendly, you can find pretty much any kind of cuisine and the social scene is fun,” McAvinue said. “I get the impression that there’s a lively art scene, which I’m hoping to explore at the Fringe festival.” The Fringe Festival is the world’s largest arts festival and is held in Edinburgh every August.
Stockon said he has enjoyed being in a “historic” city with many movie theaters and beautiful buildings.
Rojas said she loves exploring Old Town, the medieval part of Edinburgh, with its cobblestone streets that date back to the 14th century.
The pub scene, though, can be a little intimidating, according to students.
“All the locals have dibs on certain pubs,” Rojas said. “Every pub can seem worlds unto themselves, but they’re a great place to watch sports, especially soccer.”
Rojas is taking advantage of the close proximity to London to attend a few Olympic events, she said. Rojas went to a women’s soccer match between the United States and Colombia, and will later attend the 20-kilometer marathons.
Other students have visited the Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Royal Mile, among other famous sites.
The program is currently being funded for just one year, and Ruoff said he hopes it will receive long-term funding in the future.