The CFILM Podcast! Wesleyan at the AFI


This week’s CFILM podcast is all about Wes at AFI. AFI Professor Ed Decter (’79) is here to introduce the program and tell us what it’s about with help from program alum Onitra Johnson (’19). They talk about their experience in Hollywood, the professionals they met, and what the program teaches Wes students.

Wesleyan at AFI offers an immersive, on-the-ground look at what it’s like working in the entertainment industry, with an emphasis on our FABULOUS alumni and what they’re doing now.

The program is designed for Senior film majors, but Juniors will also find a lot to learn here (as Onitra can attest). If you’re interested, email Professor Higgins at Registration is first-come, first-served, and must be finalized by May 10!



Alumni Updates!

As our department grows, it can get harder to keep track of where our alumni are and what they are up to. Fortunately, we have a blog! Below, you’ll find a by-no-means comprehensive list of what our Wesleyan Film grads have been up to in 2019. Behold!

Sarah Shachat, Gabriel Urbina, and Zach Valenti are creators of the very famous audio dramas Wolf 359 and Time Bombs— but now they’re turning their sights toward education with the online course Audio Fiction 101.

Last year, we interviewed Mary Robertson about her political documentary work, including The Circus and She’s the Ticket. At the time she was starting work on a new series, Tricky Dickwhich is airing now on CNN.

Ethan Young isn’t the only alum making waves in music videos. Recent projects include Jordan Fish’s video for Arcade Fire’s Baby Mine (made with fellow Wes grad Julia Simpson) and Maegan Houang’s work on Charly Bliss’ Chatroom.

Baby Mine



Our alumni are also hard at work on traditional short and feature films— Danielle Krudy and Bridgette Cole will premier their feature BLOW THE MAN DOWN at Tribeca, while Carlen May Mann’s short film THE RAT had its moment at Sundance.

Blow the Man Down


The Rat

Of course, this is a small fraction of what’s going on in and out of the film department. Don’t forget to keep checking in to stay up-to-date!

The CFILM Podcast! Scott and the Wolf Part 1: Time Bombs

Welcome back to the CFILM podcast! This week, Scott Higgins sits down for part one of a discussion with the alumni/award winners behind the audio drama Wolf 359. Sarah Shachat, Zach Valenti, and Gabriel Urbina have a new series called Time Bombs, a gripping little product they churned out in a week. We kick off the two-part interview with a discussion of this writing process and time bombs themselves as a narrative device.

If you enjoy this interview, don’t forget to check out the team’s work! They have a new course available on the art of the audio drama which you can explore here. And tune in next time for even more on their creative process!

The CFILM Podcast! Ben Model on W. C. Fields and It’s the Old Army Game!

Just when you thought we were done with W. C. Fields! Ben Model, our resident expert on silent film, is here with a short guest episode on Fields’ silent work. Model discusses how these silents fit into the canon of such a verbal comedian, both as historical artifacts and as invaluable examples of his work and vision.

Don’t forget to listen to previous episodes of our podcast for more W. C. Fields material! And check out Ben Model’s own podcast for more on the silents.

Where Are They Now? Sarah Shachat Is Aggressively Not Making Movies

What do you do with a film degree? We reached out to some recent alumni to get the answers.

It’s kind of amazing how well the film major has served me in aggressively not making movies. After flailing my way through various internships and discovering with almost scientific precision all the creative work I don’t like doing, I’ve spent the past four years in New York, working with fellow ’12 alum Zach Valenti and my perennial presentation group partner Gabriel Urbina (’13) making podcasts. First and most notably among these is a sprawling sci-fi audio drama called Wolf 359. It was nominated for a Webby (!), is hilariously still getting nominated for awards in the fiction podcasting community, and has hit over 8.5 million downloads to date. We got the project off the ground and had the great pleasure of working almost entirely with Wes alums on the show, including fellow film majors Noah Masur (’15) and Julian Silver (’12). The show’s led to all kinds of strange and wonderful things: pretty much daily fan-art, some incredible writing and teaching opportunities, and a really fulfilling sense of collegiality with some of the unspeakably cool creators working in audio right now. The major prepared me for how to collaborate well and tackle storytelling challenges with clear intentionality, but definitely not how to deal with someone getting words I wrote tattooed on their body; it’s been wild.

This year, though, I’ve been working with Zach and Gabriel to develop short, medium, and long-term projects, in audio and also not, and doing a little film writing of my own as well. Most notably there, I think, I had a piece published on Bright Wall/Dark Room on Only Angels Have Wings and the many ways in which Cary Grant is an ass (criticism is also wild). We just launched a foray into nonfiction podcasts with a storytelling game show called No Bad Ideas and that’s been a fun experiment thus far. So the two words I think describe my life after the film major are unexpected and busy. Still learning how to balance creative work with the business of day jobs, not undercharging for freelance projects, and just living in NYC, and I have a lot more grey hairs to show for it, but the ways in which the major rewired my brain have proved manifold and immensely useful. Even more than that, though, film folks working in creative industries and also not have been the collaborators/emotional supports that have helped me get work out there and just some of the most meaningful friendships I’ve had.

Where Are They Now? Adi Slepack Is Using Her Creativity to Its Fullest Potential

What do you do with a film degree? We reached out to some recent alumni to get the answers.


Photo by Bryan Derballa

When I was graduating from Wesleyan in the summer of 2016, I was amongst the lucky few who had a gig lined up for June. I had reached out to a friend-of-a-friend (class of 2015) the winter prior, because she was working in marketing for a film distribution company whose films I really enjoyed. We grabbed an informal dinner and I asked her about how she liked her job and was navigating life after college. At the time, she told me GKIDs – the company she was working for – likely wouldn’t be hiring. But when April rolled around, the call for internships went up and I was ready. I got the internship and spent my first year out of Wes in production-adjacent jobs. First, making GIFs and doing outreach for GKIDs and then making a huge leap to the office next door, where I worked as the Programming and Operations Assistant for the New York International Children’s Film Festival. Both of these jobs were lovely. The people were nice and I didn’t find myself doing any of the tasks I was told my first jobs out would include: fetching coffee, mindless busy work, etc. But, I still had the lingering feeling that production was where I really wanted to be. My ultimate goal, was to become a writer or producer down the line (or so I imagined). Now that I felt confident  that I could thrive at an industry-adjacent job, I figured my next step was to start paying my dues, meeting the right people, and working my way up the ladder more immediately behind the camera.

I asked those around me about how to get started, and while I didn’t end up with any direct ties to the production world, I was pointed in the direction of a Facebook group for production jobs and day-playing. I saw a posting for a two-day job based in Long Island that was prioritizing locals, so I sent off my resume. In a few hours, I had booked my first gig; it turned out to be a Netflix production and after a day of building IKEA furniture for the production office, I got pulled on as the Art Department PA for four months of the film shoot. That was June 2017 and I’ve been working consistently as an Art PA since. The job mostly consists of organizing and distributing drawings and classic PA runs, but the nice thing about the art department though is that you deal with less garbage — both figuratively and literally. So, I stuck with it. Over the course of the year, I’ve become more interested in the graphics department, which works to create all the signage, logos, paperwork, and photo elements that exist in the background of shows. It’s a really cool opportunity to contribute to the universe of the show and also do artistic work on a day-to-day basis. I’m now working on Madam Secretary and am PAing with the graphics department specifically, which has been amazing for training me and helping me build a portfolio to ultimately join the union.

While all of this has taken place over the past two years, I was simultaneously working on a card game called Someone Has Died. It was a group project I started with at Wesleyan with Ellie Black (CEAS & FILM ‘17) in CFILM’s “Video games and/as Aesthetics” course. I went into that class looking to learn more about narrative in video games and came out of it with a hilariously dumb party game. The class responded really positively when we presented it and both of us couldn’t help but think that we should try to see it through. During my first year out of school, I started looking for ways to playtest, refine, and exhibit Someone Has Died. I began attending game design meetups and Playcrafting expos, which featured hundreds of games-in-progress (both digital and analog) looking for player feedback. I started meeting other game designers who were had Kickstarted their projects and were giving me advice about how I could do the same. After seeing that people were really enjoying Someone Has Died, I recruited my friend Liz Roche (ENGL & FGSS ‘16) to join the team and we started aiming higher.

In December 2016, we found out that we were accepted to showcase with Indie Megabooth at PAX East, one of the biggest game conventions in the country. In 2017, we exhibited not only at PAX East but also at PAX West, IndieCade, the Boston Festival of Indie Games, Five Points Festival, and PAX Unplugged. In September of that year, we launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first print run of the game; we asked for $15,000 and – to our surprise – made over $50,000. The process of fulfilling the Kickstarter campaign was a daunting and arduous one, especially for two bozos who hardly knew what they were doing. That being said, after six months of playtesting and producing additional cards and another six months of finishing artwork, coordinating manufacturing, and waiting for shipments, we pulled it off. We had a lot of support, mainly from Kickstarter itself; they invited us to exhibit with them at conventions and accepted us to their Creators in Residence program in the summer of 2018. While working out of their offices, we were given an office space to take ourselves seriously and also to hold a packing party to have people help us with rewards. Now that the Kickstarter is entirely fulfilled, we’re looking towards the future – a second printing for Someone Has Died and hopefully more games to come.

On a personal level, working on my own venture while simultaneously working my way through the film industry has been inspiring, but also… unexpected? My career trajectory is not at all on the track I foresaw when leaving Wesleyan. I’ve always liked fiddling around in Photoshop but never imagined myself seriously pursuing graphic design, let alone producing a card game that ended up at conventions and store shelves. But the other side of the coin is that I’m more confident in my  ability to produce projects on my own. I recognize my value in a way that makes it hard to think about spending much more of my time making runs and coffee. Even if it’s not what I originally set out to do, I’m now steering my career in the direction of utilizing my creativity to its fullest potential and am excited to discover what surprises lie ahead.

Adi Slepack’s personal work can be found at her website!

The CFILM Podcast: It’s A Gift Part Two!

Analyzing comedy may not always be the best way to make it funnier, but when the people doing the analysis are Scott Higgins and Jeanine Basinger, it definitely helps. After going over some of the film’s context in part one, we dive right into what makes it work. Vaudeville! Cruelty! Character actors! All this and more on this week’s episode of the CFILM Podcast!

Where Are They Now? Hannah Rimm’s Job Title Has Changed a Million Times

What do you do with a film degree? We reached out to some recent alumni to get the answers.

Hi Wes friends! My name is Hannah Rimm – I am class of 2015 and now live in Brooklyn, NY. My job title has changed a million time since graduating, but as of right now I am a writer, photographer, and social media producer.

I began my career four days after graduation as the marketing coordinator (and then manager) of the indie animation distribution company, GKIDS, known for bringing beautiful foreign animation, such as Spirited Away and Song of the Sea, to the US (shout out to the Wes people who still work there!).  At GKIDS I did everything from running marketing campaigns to social media to hiring as many Wes interns as I could. It was a really amazing way to kickstart my career and had some pretty cool perks – I got to go to the Oscars!

While at GKIDS, I began to freelance as a writer and portrait photographer and after three years I decided to leave to pursue freelancing full time. I’m now seven months into freelancing in social media, writing, and photography and I love it! My main client is the podcast company, WNYC Studios, where I write social media copy for podcasts such as Radiolab, Death, Sex, and Money, and 2 Dope Queens. I write mostly about sexual and mental health (thanks screenplay thesis for prepping me for this!) for publications such as Women’s Health, Allure, and Healthline. My photography focuses on honest portraiture and mental health.

You can see my work and get in touch here: or follow me on Instagram – @hannahrimm – always down to meet fellow Wes alums!

Photo by Carey Macarthur

The CFILM Podcast: It’s A Gift with Scott Higgins and Jeanine Basinger!

The CFILM podcast is back! This week, Scott and Jeanine sit down to discuss an old favorite: WC Field’s It’s a Gift (1934). This is part one of two; here, we discuss the film’s context, history, and costuming, and next time the two professors will give a running commentary as they watch the film.

If you want to be prepared for part two, the film is (delightfully) readily available online. Watch it at The Internet Archive, and then check back in for a rewatch.

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