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College of Arts & Sciences
Film and Media Studies Program


Elizabeth Somma

Why are you a Film and Media Studies major? 

I entered USC as an international studies major but I took FILM 110 Media Culture with Dr. Lauren Steimer, and that was it, I was hooked! This one class lived up to my expectation of what college classes should be like; I found the class engaging and I found myself being challenged to think in a completely different way. I realized International Studies was not for me and knew that I had to change my major to Film and Media Studies.  After freshman year I contacted Professor Laura Kissel who helped me hone in on my interest in media, and now there’s no turning back.  It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made here at USC.  I love my classes, I love the course work and the faculty are brilliant.    

How has the critical study of film and media inspired you or prepared you to reach your goals?

Although this is my first semester in the Film and Media Studies Program, I can honestly say the classes I have taken for my major have forced me to think differently about so many things.  One of the most insightful classes I’ve taken is History of Documentary Film with Dr. Cooley.  I have always liked documentary films, but after taking her class I’ve seen how film can be used as a medium to explore any topic that you’re passionate about.  I’ve seen that filmmaking doesn’t have to be rigidly structured in one predictable style, but that it should produce the effect of eliciting an experience

Tell us about the film and media projects you are involved in beyond the classroom.

Because I was in the right place at the right time during my advising appointment, I had the opportunity to work with an ESPN camera crew on the sidelines at Williams-Brice Stadium during one of our home football games.  I’ve also been accepted to a study abroad program in Rome next year and am applying for a Magellan research grant to secure funding for a documentary project I want to work on while I am there. My idea is to make a film that examines the effects of criminal activity on the economic situation in Italy.

What are your plans for summer 2014 and beyond? 

I am applying for an internship with a production company in New York for the summer, and I am planning to study film in Rome during Fall 2014.

What advice would you give to students considering a major or minor in Film and Media Studies? 

I think what I love most about the Film and Media Studies Program is that it is so diverse and accessible.  The faculty members are some of the most intelligent and well-rounded people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, which at first can be intimidating, but it is also inspirational.  My advice is to get to know your professors as quickly as possible because they are your best resource.  I have found my professors, advisors and TAs approachable, insightful and genuinely accommodating.