Anatomy of Filmmaking

Student actors participate in the 30-minute video, Anatomy of a Test, a film project conducted in the summer under the leadership of Assistant Professor of Communications Judith Morris.

For most students, an 80-degree week toward the end of May means a week of sleeping in, swimming and sunbathing. However, for several students this May, it was an opportunity to further their knowledge and experience in the fields of communications and theater with Judith Morris, assistant professor of communications.

Morris has a penchant for directing, producing and editing films, and this summer, she embarked on a film called Anatomy of a Test. The 30-minute movie features a professor who is trying to find ways to become a more effective teacher and to raise her student evaluation scores. The film explores how both students and professors tackle the notion of a test. “It’s about what a class, test or evaluation is like for the professors as well as for the students. It’s about how they can better themselves in the future,” says Heather Arney ’10, a theatre major who played the “slacker” in the film.

Arney, along with five other theatre majors, valued the week-long experience immensely. Their previous experiences were almost exclusively in stage acting, so getting to act in a film was an eye-opening experience. Johnny Haussener ’11 now recognizes the significant difference between stage and film acting. “The main difference is the way you present yourself. You can’t be as big. You still want to play all your actions truthfully, but you’re not playing to someone who’s 100 feet in front of you. You’re playing to a camera that’s one foot away from you.”

And while most of the students confessed that they still prefer acting on stage, one student, Kiernan McGrath ’12, realized that he might enjoy film acting more. “With a movie, there’s more emphasis on micro-movements,” he says. “Subtlety is more important.”

The student involvement Morris welcomed into the project started well before casting. She also had a student co-write the script with her. Public relations major Jessica Arruda ’12 was chosen to assist Morris with the script, and the experience has broadened her academic interests. “It really got me interested in broadcasting and video production,” she says.

Mike Ziegler ’10, a communications major who acted as Morris’ teaching assistant last year, worked with the cameras and lighting during filming. “Everything I have learned and been teaching other students comes together in a production such as this,” he says, clearly passing this test with flying colors.


Contributing writers to the People & Places section are Heather Cobun ‘10; Gerald S. Cohen, associate vice president for communications and chief communications officer; Stephanie Hines ‘04; and Charlotte Lotz ‘12.

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