|Lea Carlson, administrative assistant for the Film Studies Department and Cinema Archives, interacts with faculty and students on a daily basis.|
| Q: Lea, when did you begin working at Wesleyan as the administrative assistant for Cinema Archives and the Film Studies Department?
A: August 20, 2001, and this is the first department that Ive worked in at Wesleyan.
Q: Where was your office located when you started, and what are your thoughts on the new Center for Film Studies building?
A: My office was located in the Cinema Archives building when I first started here. I was so lucky because the space was shared with Leith Johnson, the co-curator, and Joan Miller, the archivist, who are two of the nicest, most generous people I know. They were so helpful to a new employee and have become such good friends in the process.
The new center is so airy and filled with light. Because our faculty and staff were housed in several different places on campus before the new center, having the offices and main areas integrated now means easy access to students, faculty, and staff which makes a huge difference in the day-to-day operations.
Q: During your time here, have you had the opportunity to meet any famous directors or actors?
A: Yes, when our building was dedicated, Martin Scorsese came and talked to a full-house. Some of the other directors and actors that Ive met or spoken to include Jonathan Demme, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Isabella Rossellini, Amy Irving, Joss Whedon, Brad Whitford, Joey Pantoliano, William Windom, Lars Schmidt, Ed Herrmann, Debra Winger, Dana Delany, Joan Leslie, Albert Berger and Isaac Mizrahi.
Q: Very exciting, and since Wesleyans film program has been nationally recognized for more than four decades, it must be very rewarding to work for the department.
A: I love working here. Its a hands-on major which means there is a lot of student, faculty and staff interaction. Each day is unique and presents different challenges. Our chair, Jeanine Basinger, is internationally-known in this field as one of the best film scholars in the world. She receives requests for interviews from news organizations, NPR and television stations on a regular basis. She also founded the Cinema Archives whose staff works on a daily basis supporting the Film Studies Department. Our majors, faculty and staff are extremely supportive of each other. The cooperative effort between everyone makes this a great place to work.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you face on a daily basis?
A: I think the biggest challenge is to balance the priorities within the department. Students come first for me then the other responsibilities seem to fall into place. There are university deadlines that need to be met on a weekly basis but most of the time there are a lot of different duties that are happening simultaneously. We have a lot of outside requests to use our new screening room and sometimes they overlap our classroom use of the spaces. My job is really enjoyableI like getting to meet and talk with administrative assistants in other departments as well as the faculty and staff who call to book spaces. The students are so passionate about what they do that they keep my outlook on life optimistic.
A: Most often, no two days are alike for me. There are regular duties such as responding to student requests, booking spaces for events and classrooms, financial responsibilities, answering general phone calls, shipping and weekly payroll. We get lots of email questions about our major and events that are happening in our building. I spend most of my time interacting with students, the chair, our faculty and staff and other departments within the university.
We get lots of students stopping and asking questions about major requirements, classes that are offered, booking of spaces for our required production and senior thesis films and other things. Parents are interested in jobs after graduation and they wonder how difficult is it for students to be accepted to our program. We offer a tour of the building in conjunction with the Admissions Office on Wednesdays at noon from the lobby of the center; one of our film majors conducts this tour which gives details about our building and the major.
Q: What can film majors expect from the Center for Film Studies?
A: The model of scholarship in the department is in the liberal arts tradition of wedding history and theory with practice. All film majors study the motion picture in a unified manner, combining historical, formal and cultural analysis with filmmaking at beginning and advanced levels in 16mm film, digital video, and virtual formats. A unique emphasis on the study of the medium, its industry, aesthetics, and technology distinguishes Film Studies courses from classes in other departments that approach film as a cultural text. For more information, people can visit our Web site, http://www.wesleyan.edu/filmstudies/, or call 860-685-2220.
Q: Briefly explain the purpose of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives and how do students or outside researchers go about viewing these materials?
A: The Cinema Archives provides a home for Wesleyans growing collections related to motion picture and television history. We care for and preserve cinema-related paper materials, photographs, and memorabilia. The archives are open from 9:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. by appointment only; Monday through Friday. Anyone wanting to inquire about specific materials should schedule an appointment by calling 860-685-3396 or e-mailing our co-curator Leith Johnson at email@example.com or our archivist, Joan Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Where can the public see these items?
A: The Rick Nicita Gallery, located in the lobby of the Center for Film Studies, houses different exhibits throughout the year. Right now the gallery exhibit is: Franks Friends, The Capra Glamour Portraits. The gallery is open from noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday and by appointment.
Q: Do you attend any of the film-related events on campus?
A: Occasionally I attend the film-related events. I have a rather long, 50-to-60 minute commute that discourages attendance to evening events after working all day. I must say, though, that there are several times Ive really wished I lived closer because the event looked so good.
Q: When youre not at Wesleyan, what do you enjoy doing?
A: Im a knitting, weaving, sewing fanatic! My grandmother and mother taught me these skills when I was 7-years-old. I even knit with needles that belonged to them. I like to spend time with my family. My husband and I are restoring a home built in 1769 where we live with our dog and cat. I have two sons, a daughter-in-law, and a 2-year-old granddaughter and a grandson who was born last week.
Q: But movies are not on your hobby-list?
A: I actually hate to admit this but Im not a big film buff. I do, however, have my favorites. I love suspense movies. My favorites are older movies like The Uninvited with Ray Milland and The Spiral Staircase. Im sure the film majors will get a chuckle out of these choices.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|