Tessa MacDonald – Fostering Connection Through Film

How would you describe your time as an English or Film Studies major at MSU?

My time as a Film Studies major has been nothing short of extraordinary. The education I have received has been so informative and enjoyable that I am sad it’s coming to an end. 

Which classes, instructors, or experiences particularly stand out for you and why? How did they prepare you for the next phase of your life?

I have had so many classes, instructors, and experiences that have positively impacted and prepared me for my next phase of life. Professor Joshua Yumibe was the professor for my first film class at MSU, and his knowledge definitely propelled my excitement for my degree. Professor Jeff Wray really helped me understand my role as a creative person and has expanded my love for producing film. Additionally, Professor Lyn Goeringer taught me about the importance of music in film and gave me a new appreciation for film sound.

Moreover, I was fortunate enough to Study Away in LA with Kate Sonka and Pete Johnston in 2019, and that class is probably one of the most applicable classes I have ever taken. I learned so much about what it is like to work in the creative industry and all the different jobs I could do with my major.

I also got to Study Abroad in Dublin, Ireland for the Spring 2020 semester, which, despite COVID, was an amazing experience. There, I had the privilege of studying Irish Film Theory and learning about the creative industry in Ireland.

What advice would you give future English or Film Studies majors, based on your experiences in the department?

 My greatest piece of advice is to talk to your professors. All of the Film Studies professors I have had were so enthusiastic about teaching film theory and wanted to make sure their students understood it. They are very knowledgeable and willing to help, all you need to do is participate in class and talk to them before or afterwards.

What coursework-related projects were/are you working on this year, and what interests or excites you about them? 

This year I was the Producer for the Fiction Filmmaking Capstone Film Varnish, and I am beyond excited to share this with the public. This film is, at heart, about connection and connecting with people you love, which is a sentiment we can all relate to in these turbulent times. I honestly really enjoy public speaking and organizing everyone’s tasks, so being a Producer was the perfect fit for me.

What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation? 

 After graduation, I hope to get a production job, probably as a Production Assistant, out in Los Angeles. I love the sun and I love producing, so it sounds like a win-win scenario to me.

Finally, reflect a bit on the strange experience of being a graduating senior during this on-going period of pandemic, of local and global crisis. What resources have been most useful to you in navigating this unprecedented situation?

I think having synchronous class helped me navigate going to school in a pandemic. Being able to talk to my professors and peers weekly gave me a slight sense of normalcy. I also started utilizing CAPS (Counseling & Psychiatric Services) by talking to a therapist, which really helped my mental health.