Film analysis at heart of new GCC club
Andrew Curran, President of the GCC Film Society, and English Professor and Film Society Advisor Trevor Kearns, during a showing of Silence of the Lambs at the college on Friday afternoon.
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Andrew Curran, President of the GCC Film Society, and English Professor and Film Society Advisor Trevor Kearns, during a showing of “Silence of the Lambs” at the college on Friday afternoon.
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GREENFIELD —When Andrew Curran watches a movie, he sees an art form that has far-reaching social impact but is not fully understood.
Despite the number of people who watch movies, few know how to analyze them critically, said the 28-year-old Greenfield Community College liberal arts student.
In an effort to introduce more students to the invisible language of cinema, he started a new club: the GCC Film Society.
The club meets weekly, on Fridays from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., to watch and analyze movies.
“I think it’s important for people to have media literacy and be able to understand the things they see and interpret them in a critical way,” said Curran. “I wanted to bring some of that ... here and share it with other students.”
Curran’s journey began as a high school student in the early 2000s, when he worked at a video rental store, Video Revolution, in his hometown of Concord.
The job was a “transformative experience” for him, said Curran, exposing him to movies from multiple genres — classic films, popular ones and others the average moviegoer does not know exists.
In 2005, the store owner Ralph Grossi was diagnosed with cancer. Curran ran the store for two years until Grossi’s death.
“That was the crucible in which I developed my love of film,” he said. “It just stuck.”
Curran is joined by the club’s faculty adviser, Trevor Kearns, an English teacher at GCC.
Kearns teaches a class, which Curran took last spring, that analyzes literature and film. There is no film studies program at GCC and Kearns said his course is the only one that teaches film criticism.
“Students who take my class ... basically it ruins movies for them,” said Kearns, with a smile. “They’ve never had to read the language of cinema before. Once they see that ... they see how horribly made some of these films are.”
For example, the average moviegoer pays little attention to a film’s editing — an element that is at the crux of cinema production, said Kearns.
“When you make a quick cut from this perspective in this shot to a different perspective in this shot ... you’re creating a new symbolic structure that carries some kind of meaning,” he said. “If you have a good editor, the editor is very aware of this and is actually shaping the experience of the film actively.”
Many films, like summer action-packed blockbusters, put little effort into the editing, he said. Once students take his class and understand film-making concepts, these elements will be impossible to ignore.
But Kearns said there is also a positive side to the analytic tools and knowledge they gain: it will help them to learn something about themselves.
“By understanding more about your own sensibility when you respond to artwork, you understand more about yourself,” he said. “(You say,)‘I like these kinds of films. Why do I like these kinds of films?’ You analyze the film, you figure out, ‘Ah, it’s these kinds of things I’m interested in.’”
The Film Society meets in the president’s conference room, C201. So far they have screened “John Carpenter’s The Thing,” “Paprika,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “The Warriors” and “The Wild Bunch.”
And although about 30 people expressed interest in the club, each screening has only had a handful of attendees. It is a problem that most clubs at a community college face, said Kearns.
Curran — a writer, who dreams of a Hollywood career but acknowledges the competitive nature of the business — is hoping to spread word about the club or possibly change the meeting time to attract more students.
The ultimate goal, he said, is for people to come “not just to watch a movie ... (but) to discuss movies because they can appreciate them outside the boundaries of what happens at the beginning, middle and the end.”
Chris Shores can be reached at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264