Moviemakers and Scholars: A Series Made for Everyone

The film industry has played a major role in the Wilmington community, providing jobs like extra spots on “One Tree Hill,” bringing movie stars to town like The Rock, and hosting film festivals like Cucalorus. When the opportunity arises, the film industry also brings these key folks to class.

The Moviemakers and Scholars Series, once a public event that was held occasionally on Fridays when a filmmaker was in town, is now an academic course offered by UNCW’s Film Studies department. It is a basic studies course that fulfills the fine arts requirement and is held every Tuesday this semester.

The class is unique because not only do students get to hear from professionals in the film industry and UNCW alumni, but the class is still occasionally open to the public, holding true to the series origin. However, sometimes the class is also only open to film studies students.

“With main events on campus, for example, the major exciting stage portrayal of Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man,’ I opened the doors to the public because it seemed appropriate. Ditto for films that cross relate to some of our courses,” said professor Lou Buttino, who teaches the course.

For the “Invisible Man” series on campus, the Moviemakers and Scholars Series had Oren Jacoby, who worked to adapt the novel to a staged production, speak about that process. The event was open to the public to give people from the community and students a chance to talk with Jacoby, a veteran in the film and theater industries. However, because this is an academic course, those who attend who are not in the class are asked to adhere to the same rules.

“(Moviemakers and Scholars) is an academic course, with exams and the appropriate etiquette (no laptops, cell phone use, talking etc.), so that is my priority,” said Buttino.

A variety of speakers come to the class to present information about their experiences.

“I try to seek a balance between great young filmmakers, including the FST department’s graduates, and seasoned veterans. When a film historian is in town, or critic, I invite him to speak,” said Buttino.

According to Buttino, when UNCW alumni speak, they are very important and very inspiring to himself and the students.

Other speakers also include members of the film studies department. “Students get to meet members of our department, and see what they are all about,” Buttino said.

The students also meet with the speakers after class and talk with the speakers some more, sometimes for half an hour or more, according to Buttino. He believes the course provides his students with an opportunity for a greater appreciation of the film industry, to learn about the making of films, and how to “read” a film.

The course is coming to a close soon as the fall semester is almost over, but Buttino has some speakers from the film studies department lined up to speak.

“I have scheduled Dr. Tim Palmer and Dr. Carlos Case to buttress up the scholarship side of the course. I will also be presenting,” said Buttino. The last day of the class will be about a French cinema festival on campus.

“Our last class day is devoted to a French cinema festival on campus and students in Dr. Palmer’s class will be making a presentation,” said Buttino. “How great is that, that students see their peers in leadership roles?”

The Moviemakers and Scholars Series has been a success so far, and Buttino has received verbal and written comments from students saying how much they like the course. More information and a list of events can be found on the film studies website.