As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to stretch on, we are still learning to adapt to the changes it has brought to the campus community. A major loss over this time, especially following students being sent home, was a loss of connectedness, activities and overall morale. This major damper hit especially hard with clubs. Muhlenberg is home to over 120 clubs and organizations, but the unfortunate truth is not many were suited to survive such a stark change without in-person meetings. One such club that faced this fate was the Muhlenberg Film Association (MFA).
Pre-COVID, the MFA had film screenings and regularly collaborated with each other on film projects, among other activities, that more or less required having that in-person connection to have a true screening experience or to properly work together on projects. COVID forced a break on all of that and without these key building blocks of the club, it eventually faded as did many clubs in the wake of the pandemic.
However, this all changed in May 2022 when, led by co-presidents Amira Jackson ‘24 and Ryan Dratler ‘24, the MFA was resurrected, starting with a viewing party of the Oscars in the Red Door. With this event, the club hit the ground running and got back on its feet for the next semester in a short amount of time. The “new” MFA held their first interest meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6, with a substantial group of interested students showing up, resurrecting this club and bringing together those interested in film or looking to get involved in film at Muhlenberg.
“It feels nice to know students are excited about our organization and encourages us to keep pushing through these challenges.”– Amira Jackson ’24
Jackson talks about the process of resurrecting the club, “In a way, we’ve had to restart and rebuild a student organization without access or knowledge to what this was prior. We are working to create a club that follows the footsteps of the original foundation while also making the modifications and improvements needed. Although it’s been hard, it’s been worth the work! It feels nice to know students are excited about our organization and encourages us to keep pushing through these challenges.” Jackson continues, sharing her vision for MFA, saying, “We want to motivate students to interact with the community more. We want students to make connections with filmmakers and other organizations outside of Muhlenberg.”
The new leadership already has a great lineup of events and activities for this new era of the club. Dratler explains the club’s plans including “bi-weekly movie discussions, screenings, workshops and trivia nights throughout the semester.”
Workshop coordinator for the MFA, Jamen Meistrich ‘24 adds that the club seeks, “to create a community of those who love film. Whether they want to make films, watch films, talk about films or whatever, we want to create a space for everyone to have the opportunity to do so. We want to make it as approachable as we can, as sometimes that can be the hardest step.”
MFA has been making great strides with their events so far in such a small amount of time. They hold workshops with the goal of showcasing and educating people “on some of the equipment we have here at Walson and general workshops on different aspects of filmmaking,” says Meistrich. MFA’s first workshop was earlier in the month on Sat. Sept. 10 showcasing how to use the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras offered in the equipment room in Walson Hall, the home to the media & communication and film studies departments as well as the WMUH radio station. The Blackmagic workshop gave students an opportunity to learn how to use a very intricate and powerful camera, giving them a step forward to start creating films on their own.
“any artist on earth can contribute to a film in some way… It is such a beautiful collaboration of so many arts and I love the creativity it allows.”– Jamen Meistrich ’24
Along with these workshops, the club also has been screening movies to have discussions about filmmaking techniques and showcasing them through demonstrations for events called “Movie Tuesdays,” the first film they started with was Alfonso Cuarón’s “Children of Men.” Along with screenings for these events, MFA also works with a local arthouse theatre, the Civic Theatre of Allentown, to have screenings as well. Wong Kar-wai’s “In The Mood For Love” and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Memoria” are a few of the recent films shown at the Civic and then discussed at MFA meetings for their unique style and attributes. Jackson also mentioned plans for a film festival at the Civic sometime within the semester.
Even in the face of COVID and a brief hiatus, the Muhlenberg Film Association has come back swinging. The club stands to present a space for artists and filmmakers to come together, share their love of film and collaborate on their projects. This is just a small taste of what the MFA has planned for the student body, with so much more on the horizon.
“Personally, I would like the club to make everyone that has any interest in film feel like they are welcome there and able to do whatever they want in the film world…any artist on earth can contribute to a film in some way…It is such a beautiful collaboration of so many arts and I love the creativity it allows. I want people to be unafraid to take the leap and use their artistic voice because that’s what everyone deserves,” says Meistrich ‘24.
MFA has bi-weekly meetings on Tuesday afternoons at 5 p.m. in the Red Door. For more information, they can also be found on Instagram @bergfilmassociation, or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find past and upcoming MFA work on Big Lettuce Productions on YouTube.
“We want to encourage students to engage with film and to create films! MFA seeks to have a shared space between students who like watching films and those who like making films… The best way to get involved in filmmaking is to start! You have to start somewhere and MFA is here to support you and encourage you!… Film is for everyone! It’s time we stop allowing this art form to be dominated by white men and dismantle the idea that film is inaccessible.” says Jackson.