Johns Hopkins and MICA Finally Take Filmmaking Seriously

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You can’t walk five blocks in Baltimore anymore without running into a film crew, from Veep to House of Cards to whatever movie is trying to approximate DC this week. The Maryland Film Fest gets more awesome every year. Matt Porterfield is famous. It’s undeniable that Baltimore’s film culture is on the rise.

For years, though, one major stumbling block has been the city’s universities’ lack of serious filmmaking programs. Although it’s had a film and media studies department since 1995, Johns Hopkins didn’t offer a strong emphasis on film production in its film and media studies major until recently; MICA never put filmmaking on the same level as sculpture, painting, or digital art. But that’s all about to change in a major way.

In a plan that’s been a long time coming, Hopkins and MICA are joining forces to launch a film center for joint studies of the form. The new center will be located in Station North near the future Parkway Theatre, and will have a relationship with the Maryland Film Festival–so in other words, the schools are doing whatever they can to leverage the city’s already-existing strengths as they take this project forward.

Starting Fall 2015, you’ll be able to get an MFA in filmmaking from MICA. “MICA is committed to helping define Baltimore as an international center for filmmaking,” MICA president Samuel Hoi said in a release. “We aren’t thinking small. Our aim is to create a nexus that enables all of the region’s film, cinema and animation resources to achieve synergy and grow dramatically.”

Get ready to see a lot more film crews, Baltimore.

Updated: The original story indicated that Hopkins did not have a film major until last year.  We edited the story to reflect that Hopkins has had a film and media studies department since 1995, but the emphasis on film making has only happened in recent years.  



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12 COMMENTS

  1. This article is factually incorrect. Johns Hopkins has offered a film major since 1995 and there are hundreds of Hopkins film alumni who have gone on to successful careers in film as actors, screenwriters, producers, marketing executives, and designers (not to mention those who have gone on to study film in top graduate programs around the world).

    Peabody has been collaborating with the Film and Media Studies Program at Hopkins since 2011 to offer students the opportunity to study film music as well as to compose and record scores for student films.

    The writer clearly did not do her research; the facts above are easily verifiable by a simple search online.

    If there is a stumbling block to cultural flourishing in Baltimore it is the absence of first-rate cultural reviewers and reporters who do their homework and seek to publish accurate, thoroughly researched, and thoughtful praise and criticism of the efforts of others.

    The commenter is the chair of the department of humanities at the Peabody Conservatory, Johns Hopkins University.

    • Thanks for the update.

      We are glad to see the new commitment to filmmaking by Hopkins and MICA.

      The filmmaking program deserves to be on par with the reputations of the two institutions, both of which are considered to be among the best of their kind in the world. With the talent in this town and the resources at both schools, we are certain the program will succeed.

    • 1. Film and media studies is not the same as film making. By your logic, everyone who graduated with a BA in Art History would be considered an artist. So… not sure what your point is here. Then again, you cite marketing executives and designers (designers of what?) as part of film making so it’s clear you don’t have much practical application on an actual set.

      2. Your claim that there are “hundreds” of graduates is convenient both in its vagueness and lack of context. Beside the fact that you provide no support for these numbers nor a measuring stick for “success,” even a generous estimate in your favor would indicate this group of alumni makes up less than .06% of total alums. Even if there were “hundreds” of successful film making alumni – do you really believe any of them would credit Hopkins for his or her success in film? Do you think Hopkins gave them the skills they needed? Set them up with a network to build on? Attending a seminar on Citizen Kane doesn’t make you Orson Welles.

      Reflexive petulance and pedantic nit-picking are incredibly unbecoming.

  2. Thank you for correcting the record — the proper internet protocol is to add “updated” to the headline (or directly underneath).

    • Our policy is to add “updated” to the headline only when it involves breaking news. Otherwise, we add the “updated” within the story, where the change has been made, or at the bottom of the story.

  3. Great article! It will be exciting to see what this world class university will contribute to the Baltimore and American film scene!

  4. @hollisrobbins I think that the article highlights a positive step forward in progressing both schools film programs. I know many students who graduated with a film degree from hopkins who are excited about their school listening to their feedback on actually focusing on developing and processing more than analysis. I am excited to see the collaboration with MICA and a dedicated film center and look forward to see development in the areas that the Film & Media Studies program lacked.

  5. It was with great interest that I read the recent article – in which Rachel Monroe wrote so eloquently about the film programs at Johns Hopkins and MICA. Lacking in the article, however, is a sense of how vibrant the filmmaking programs are, and have been for some time, at area universities such as Stevenson, Towson, UMBC, Morgan State and Goucher, among others. Our production students are among the best.

    The commenter is the chair of the film/video department at the School of Design, Stevenson University. We received his comment in an email and received his permission to add it to the discussion.

  6. @Hollis Robbins
    So Fishbowl made Hopkins look bad, and now you are trying to make Fishbowl look bad?

    Are you up for a performance review?

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