Who are the students behind Fairfield University’s Film program?

Heather Mooney is a senior at Fairfield University majoring in Film. Mooney has her sights set on directing and producing documentaries and music videos but Fairfield’s film program has prepared her for various careers within the film industry. In the clip below, watch Mooney describe her experience as a film student and how she’s carved her own path in Fairfield’s program.

While Film, Television, and Media, is just one department, the students within the major have very diverse goals within the entertainment industry. The following 5 seniors, like Mooney, have had to work very hard to establish themselves as experts in their respective fields, in a major not many students think of on a daily basis.

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Name: Carina Nieto
Major:
Film, Television, and Media studies with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Why you chose Fairfield’s Film program: I chose Fairfield’s film program because it seemed the most friendly and open to teach me anything I wanted, the proximity to NYC didn’t hurt either! I also saw an opportunity to get to use the equipment right when I started school rather than in my junior year (which is what most film schools do).
Career goals for after Fairfield: Since being here I have worked on a variety of different film projects. The ones that I had the most fun and I felt the most connected to completing are documentary films and television production. After I graduate I would like to work in the documentary industry or in TV production in the future, but I am mainly looking to join a non-profit so that I can repay some of my student loans.
Fairfield’s preparation: Fairfield’s Program helped me mainly through the Production Team. They have taught me so much and provided countless opportunities for me to work on short pieces that I normally wouldn’t be able to.

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Name: Alex Mongillo Major: Film, Television, and Media Arts Major with a Theatre Minor
Why you chose Fairfield’s film program: I chose Fairfield’s film program because it provides a broad view of every aspect of production. Coming into school I knew I wanted to do something with film and/or television, but I wasn’t sure specifically what part of it I was interested in most. Other schools required you to have a focus on a certain area, but here at Fairfield I was able to get experience in all parts.
Career goals for after Fairfield: After I graduate I hope to have any position really. Within the film and television industry there’s really no way to get the job you want right away as with most industries, but I would not mind at all being a production assistant. In the end however, I would love to be the executive producer of a television show.
Fairfield’s preparation: Fairfield’s FTM program helped me to prepare for this field by giving me experience in many fields within film and television and pushed me to work hard. Not only do I have a good understanding of production, but also film history, which is something that has influences the films I make now.
What’s one thing you wish other students knew about the FTM program? I wish other students knew how cathartic being a film major is. You work long, hard hours on films you’re making and sometimes it seems like you’ll never get it done, but when you do and you see your creation come to life, you can’t help but feel like you’ve just made a masterpiece. This goes for something that is a minute to a full length short film, something that you were just a production assistant on to something you directed, no matter how long it is or what your job was, you get a huge satisfaction from just knowing you were a part of this amazing final product.

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Name: Joann Cowley
Major: Film with a Minor in Creative Writing
Why you chose Fairfield’s Film program: I choose Fairfield’s film program because of the multitude of resources we have and the camaraderie between the students and faculty.
Career goals for after Fairfield: I would love to be able to work in the camera department and work my way up from an Assistant Camera [person] to a Director of Photography (DP).
Fairfield’s preparation: I’m hoping [Fairfield] provided my with the skills necessary to work with a wide range of equipment.
What’s one thing you wish other students knew about the FTM program? That we work very hard to accomplish our goals and that just because we aren’t STEM, doesn’t mean we can’t contribute.

Dewey 3Name: Dewey Browder IV
Major:
Film, TV and Media Arts Major
Why you chose Fairfield’s Film program: While looking for colleges in CT (my family moved here in 2012), I discovered Fairfield University’s film program and instantly thought it was something I’d want to be part of. 
Career goals for after Fairfield: Although I will be absolutely thrilled to work in any area of film, my end goal is to work my way up to directing/conceptualizing music videos and commercials. 
Fairfield’s preparation: The FTM program allows students to explore whatever area of film they desire, which is crucial for developing the skills necessary to succeed. Personally, being able to work on student film shoots and develop projects outside of class was integral to my experience here. 
What’s one thing you wish other students knew about the Film program? The insane amount of work actually required to work in film. Especially during Spring Semester, most of our weekends are filled with production work, in addition to the normal Mon-Fri college schedule. But it’s a labor of love and everyone that sticks with it is truly there for the love of film.

Name: Ally GianniniIMG_2935
Major: Film , TV and Media Arts Major
Why you chose Fairfield’s Film program: I chose Fairfield’s film program because of the extremely hands on, well rounded, approach and dedicated faculty.
Career goals for after Fairfield: I don’t know exactly what I want to do after I graduate, but I could see myself working as a writer for a TV show, as an Editor, or as a Producer of either independent films or branded content. My dream is to Direct.
Fairfield’s preparation: Fairfield has given me the opportunity to pursue my interests and get hands on experience in the subject matter that I’m interested in. Through student productions and internships I have a lot of hard skills.
What’s one thing you wish other students knew about the Film program? I wish other students knew that its not an easy major, and that we’re very dedicated to what we do. We give up a lot of nights and weekends to hone our craft and by the time we graduate are experts in a lot of the content we’ve studied. Filmmaking is a science as well as an art, and you have to know a lot about theory as well as equipment to make a great film.

(images courtesy of the students profiled)
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Stuck in the Middle: Struggle to Change Schools and its Impact on Students

On November 18th, Jesse Erickson was supposed to register for her first official classes as a student in the Fairfield University Dolan School of Business. The sophomore was all set to transfer from the College of Arts and Sciences but due to slow paperwork processing, her plans were foiled.

“Next semester, I am currently only registered for three classes, two of which are not part of the business core. Because my change of school paper has not yet processed, I am not in the business school which means that I was unable to register for any business classes,” Erickson said.

Erickson is one of an estimated 50 students who transfer from Fairfield’s College of Arts and Science to the Dolan School of Business every year. While the university recommends students in transferring schools during their freshman year, many, like Erickson, decide to transfer late as their goals and interests evolve.

After entering Fairfield undecided, Erickson declared a Communication and Journalism majors before quickly having a change of heart. Erickson turned to her real life experiences to aid in her decision-making process.

“I decided to transfer schools because I spent the summer working in the restaurant business where I really took on a role of leadership and I decided to purse an interest I had in management,” Erickson said, adding that she still plans on a Journalism minor.

Erickson’s transition to the Dolan School of Business began during the first week of the year when she met with her advisor. While she isn’t sure how, her advisor was able to get Erickson written into economics and accounting classes, both usually reserved for business students.

“If it weren’t for my advisor, I don’t know where I would be,” she said.

According to Dawn Debiase, Assistant Dean to the Dolan School of Business, the transfer process is relatively smooth.

“Compared to the processes at some other institutions, I believe the transition process at Fairfield is streamlined and straightforward,” said Debiase.

Erin Connors ’16 transferred into the Dolan School of Business from the College of Arts and Sciences at the end of her freshman year and was surprised at the Erickson’s difficulty.

“[Transferring] was a pretty easy process I just had to get a form signed by both of the deans,” she said. “With the business core, I was able to do it opposite of those starting in the business school”

The first Semester in Dolan School of Business

The first Semester in Dolan School of Business

The first Semester in College of Arts and Sciences

Susan Peterson, assistant dean in the College of Arts and Sciences agrees that the transition from the College of Arts and Sciences can be smooth, but only if the transfer happens early on.

“If planned early on, some courses in the University core would overlap the business core. If the transfer happens later in a student’s career, it could present problems. In addition to the University core, DSB students must also complete a business core,” Peterson said.

Erickson admits that she wishes she figured out what she wanted to major in earlier, especially considering how long it would take to process the transfer papers but is adamant that the school has a responsibility to look after its students.

“This is college and I believe that students have the ability and freedom to change what they want to do,” Erickson said. “When I decide I want to change my mind and my papers still haven’t been processed a month later, I think it’s ridiculous and really hinders my ability to grow at Fairfield, especially wen we have Such a large core. Even if we do transfer late, I feel as though they should be a little more helpful and reassuring that I will be able to stay on track.”

Despite considering the transfer process between schools to be a pretty fluid process, Debiase admits that there can be difficulties in transferring later in the college career.

“Depending on the timing of the transfer, sometimes summer or winter intercession study or taking additional courses during the traditional academic year is required to remain on-track to graduate with the student or class cohort,” Debiase said.

Fairfield Tour Ambassador Christina Barry ’15, admits that answering questions about the transfer process between schools isn’t easy as answering questions that might not make Fairfield desirable are usually difficult to answer.

“I think that the general goal of a tour is to show off the school’s really great aspects, and to make the less attractive, or difficult aspects of the school seem better/easier than they are,” Barry said.

Barry maintains that she’s always honest with the perspective students on the tours, often telling them things that Fairfield could change but tries to do so in a positive way that won’t deter students from the school. Erickson believes that the school isn’t forward with how long the process the transfer actually takes.Step 1. Obtain and fill out change of

Erickson’s issue with the transfer process isn’t with her treatment by administrators but with the slow process that’s holding up her plans. The dishonesty on how difficult it can be to transfer schools has places Erickson in an awkward in-between state where she’s not enrolled in the Dolan School of Business but doesn’t consider herself to be a College of Arts and Science student, either.

Erickson believes that part of the problem is in how restrictive the university is with paperwork.

“There’s so many restrictions to everything that they can’t do anything without authorization. Basically, they just kept saying I needed to wait until the paper processes and now it’s been a month and it still hasn’t processed,” Erickson said.

Understanding the confusion and frustration surrounding navigating through an academic career, in 2014, Fairfield reorganized academic support departments to create the Office of Academic Support and Retention. Director Heather Petraglia, former assistant dean in the Dolan School of Business names the department to be useful for students looking to change.

“One of the responsibilities of the Office of Academic Support and Retention is to support undergraduate students who are undeclared, changing majors and/or schools, or in need of advising to help them make a successful transition to a declared program of study,” she said.

Erickson understands the resources the university provides can really aid in the exploratory process and notes that there are many faculty members who dedicate their time to helping their advisees explore their interests.

“I think that there is staff at Fairfield that definitely cares about the students, like Laura Nash, who is determined to help her students achieve which is why Is why I’ve boasted about her so often,” Erickson said. “She’s helped me with everything and she knows exactly who I should talk to when I have a problem, which I haven’t really found at the business school yet.”

Ultimately, Erickson believes that the transfer process needs to be streamlined because the process is not only a paperwork nightmare but there’s also a lot of factors to consider, like whether another major or minor is feasible with the extra business core or even if it’s possible to study abroad. She’s especially worried about being able to study abroad in Florence, Italy, during the fall of her junior year, a mere semester after the transfer is set to be complete. Additionally the Fairfield Mirror assistant sports editor is hoping to be able to keep an journalism minor after the process is complete.

Erickson’s goals may be lofty but if what Debiase and Peterson are correct in promoting the transfer process as doable, even as late as the beginning of junior year, Erickson should have no problem making the change.

Before its even possible to make the change from one school to another, it’s important to be educated on how the process actually works. Debiase believes that students interested in transferring from the College of Arts and Science to the Dolan School of Business need to be proactive and follow three steps:

  1.     Do your homework:  Explore curricular and co-curricular, and extra-curricular options offered, and career options supported, by the Dolan School of Business.
  2.     Work hard:  Earning strong grades is essential.  The requisite 2.8 cumulative GPA is required.
  3.     Have the right conversations.  Your academic advisor is a valuable resource for all conversations about your academic goals and your personal/professional future.

In following those steps, no student should struggle to transition to the school of their choice.