Meet Our Majors

Meet some of our Media Arts & Culture majors.

Manny Rothman ’22

Hometown: Lewisburg, PA
Major: MAC (production); minor: theater

What was your motivation to major in MAC? Was there a specific inspirational moment or experience?

I've really loved filmmaking since I was a kid, so I guess I was always destined to be a MAC major. If I could think of a specific inspirational moment, that would be when I made a short film of a Pennsylvanian snowstorm as a child. I had this process of recording the screen that played a recording I took. I kept repeating this process, until I had this footage of seemingly "infinitely deep" footage, all going deeper and deeper into my computer monitor (similar to when you’re in a room with a mirror on each side). It was such a cool new way to see the world and it’s what encouraged me to keep using film as a method of seeing the world around me in new ways.

Can you describe your working relationships with MAC professors? Are there any standout classes you’ve taken?

The professors in the MAC department are really great resources and fantastic instructors. One thing that makes the MAC department special, in my eyes, is the variety of instructors it has and how anyone could find a professor that resonates with them. I took "Introduction to Visual and Critical Studies” with Professor Katarzyna Marciniak and was floored with how much knowledge I had gained by the end of the semester. I found myself using the theories of what I learned in that class consistently in future courses and projects. I also really enjoyed Professor Aleem Hossain’s course, “Project-Based Mediamaking,” where we focused on the benefits of the process of filmmaking over the end-result. Both of these courses, though in different tracks of the MAC department, have shaped how I think of both analyzing and creating film.

One thing that makes the MAC department special, in my eyes, is the variety of instructors it has and how anyone could find a professor that resonates with them.

What are your ambitions post-Oxy and how has the liberal arts approach helped to shape these ambitions?

I would love to work as a narrative-based feature film editor post-Oxy. I am also interested in grad school and obtaining my Masters at some point in my career as an editor. Oxy’s interdisciplinary nature has allowed me to pursue my interest in theatrical lighting design, mathematics, art history, as well as filmmaking. At Oxy, I used these interests to inform how I create films, how I think of art, and who I want to collaborate with.

Do you have any advice for a student considering a major in MAC?

I would highly recommend really considering which track of the MAC department to join. For students like myself who are interested in creating stories and enjoy the technicality of the filmmaking process, I would recommend the Production Track. If you enjoy the process of analyzing, dissecting, and interpreting media and the theories under which they operate, I would recommend the Critical Theory Track. Regardless of what you pick, if you are a MAC major, I cannot express more the importance of spending time outside of class to work on your interests in film. If you are in the Production Track, make movies outside of class (like, all the time)! If you are in the Critical Theory Track, dissect movies outside of class and read up on theorists and critics that interest you! In my opinion, this major works best when you spend time outside of the department strengthening your skills as both a filmmaker and as a thinker.

What is the “vibe” of the MAC department?

The vibe of the department really depends on which professor you interact most with, and which classes you decide to take, which is one thing that makes the MAC department special. Depending on what courses you take, you can have an experience at Oxy that is rigorous and challenging, generative and thoughtful, creative and unexpected, or any combination of the above! The experience you can get from the MAC department is really up to you, your interests, and the time and effort you put into helping yourself grow as a filmmaker and thinker outside of class.


Angelina Lee ’22

Hometown: Naperville, IL
Major: MAC (production); minor: interdisciplinary writing

What was your motivation to major in MAC?

I’ve always loved scribbling fiction, and in high school I started obsessively taking pictures of everything with my phone, especially during the cooldown walk after I went jogging. I was also determined to watch as many films as I could in high school. Trying to write film reviews was puzzling and fun. Those interests definitely coalesced in my choice to major in MAC. 

Can you describe your working relationships with MAC professors?

I feel really lucky to have working relationships with MAC professors for so many reasons. To discuss new films to better grasp this current cultural moment, to get feedback on outside projects, to steadily learn more about film through all of its avenues. All of the MAC professors encourage thinking complexly and constantly learning about “moving pictures.” Their obvious love for what they do is striking. I’m grateful for the sheer variety of MAC classes there are every semester. I’ve gotten to learn about topics I hadn’t even heard of before, like transnational cinemas, worldbuilding, remix documentary, photogrammetry, and much, much more. 

Have you taken part in any student research opportunities at Oxy or elsewhere?

My Senior Comps project is a fiction short—it’s about trees! In a dystopian future in which humans live underground, an immersive new museum exhibit allows a sleep-deprived young professional and his girlfriend to discover trees for the first time. This entirely photoreal simulation propels him to consider what is lost in a human habitat without trees. I pitched the idea during the junior production class and developed the script over the summer. In the fall, we filmed on campus. We actually shot a scene in the early morning under one of the sprawling oak trees on the quad. 

MAC really welcomes anyone fascinated by mediamaking and excited to learn more and experiment with the form.

What do you find most compelling about studying MAC?

One aspect is definitely media literacy. It boggles my mind how much I’ve learned about social media algorithms, data, visual rhetoric, and film history in the last few years. So much of online activities are image-based, and it feels urgent to learn more about these topics. Another thing I find really compelling in studying MAC is trying to grasp truly audiovisual storytelling. MAC professors and classes really push you to try to tell stories in the most visual way possible, stories that have to be told as films. 

Do you have any advice for a student considering a major in MAC?

I would recommend not being intimidated or shying away from the major just because you might not have much experience with film before coming to Oxy. I remember worrying extensively that I wouldn’t belong in the major and the production track because I had little video making experience before my sophomore year. MAC really welcomes anyone fascinated by mediamaking and excited to learn more and experiment with the form.


Louis Nguyen ’22

Hometown: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Majors: MAC (critical media studies); Music Production

What was your motivation to major in MAC?

I knew I wanted to work in the more creative side of the entertainment industry, but I have such a wide range of interests that make narrowing it down rather difficult. But MAC, and especially my Critical Media Studies concentration, is great because of its versatility and active encouragement of exploration. Taking the gateway classes, “Intro to Digital Media & Culture” and “Intro to Critical & Visual Studies,” I see the interdisciplinary approach that the department takes to pretty much everything, and it resonates with me. I decided to major in MAC hoping that it’d narrow down my professional interests within the field I’m passionate about. It absolutely did!

Can you describe your working relationships with MAC professors? Are there any standout classes you’ve taken?

The professors are always incredibly helpful and approachable. They always encourage creativity and have always been incredible in supporting even the most ambitious ideas. For example, in my “Migration Media” class with Professor Lin, I made a website that contains audio interviews, detailing the displacement international students face during the COVID-19 pandemic. She worked with me through my non-existent coding experience and sent me so many resources, on and off campus, to help me finish the project. Another example would be my 360 video class with Professor Hossain where I made a dance VR film allowing viewers to take the perspective of different body parts through a choreographed routine. With his VR expertise, he offered so much creative and technical guidance and even adjusted his project restrictions so that I could create my film how I envisioned it!

The professors are always incredibly helpful and approachable. They always encourage creativity and have always been incredible in supporting even the most ambitious ideas.

Can you describe your senior comps project?

For my senior project, I wanted to explore something personal to me. So, as an Asian president of Oxy’s sketch comedy club, I’m writing my paper about the politics of representation in recent Hollywood Asian comedies.

What are your ambitions post-Oxy and how has the liberal arts approach helped to shape these ambitions?

Post-Oxy, I want to work in TV development. It’s the stage before a show goes into production where ideas are solidified, and scripts are finalized. It resonates with me because this is where I get to flex all the creative muscles that the liberal arts education has given me. I’ve had quite a few internships in TV development departments in different facets of the industry. Throughout these experiences I took in critical conversations surrounding representation in TV. My liberal arts education provided me with the critical skills to articulate my thoughts and contribute to such meetings. I’ve had great conversations about my senior comps project with so many people I’m meeting at my current internship at HBO Max!

Do you have any advice for a student considering a major in MAC?

Take initiative! The major covers such a broad range of topics, what you want to do with it is really up to you. This versatility can be used to your advantage. The professors are there to help with anything you need: career guidance, grad school, independent projects, etc. Also really plan and be strategic about what classes you have to take and when you have to take them because MAC classes are very popular and fill up so quickly!


Frannie DiBona ’23

Hometown: Bainbridge Island, WA
Major: MAC (critical media studies); minor: education

What was your motivation to major in MAC?

I joined the MAC major because I was interested in marketing and believed that this could provide me with opportunities in the entertainment and media industries in Los Angeles. However, after my first gateway course, I realized that I was truly interested in critical media studies and being able to study other subjects like sociology, philosophy and theory through media was much more conducive to my interests and pursuits as it allowed me to center my critiques on intricate objects as well as add a creative facet to my studies.

Can you describe your working relationships with MAC professors? Are there any standout classes you’ve taken?

I have created my most meaningful professor relationships within the MAC department. I took my first gateway course with Professor Marciniak, and she took interest in the way I thought about things and pushed me to take my ideas further in the work I did for her. Now, as my comps professor, she's been incredibly supportive, always providing me with the resources and support that I need to make my project something successful that I also enjoy doing. Taking Professor Lin’s “The Female in Japanese Film and Media” truly changed my life. She was one of the first professors to really see long-term potential in the ideas I had about the world and the media and encouraged me to consider graduate programs in film and media studies. I've taken multiple classes with her and I've been able to learn about subjects I wouldn't have otherwise considered like participatory video and migration media—subjects which I now involve in my work across disciplines and the department.

The best part of a liberal arts education is the interdisciplinary education and being able to apply the theory you learn in your major and minor classes to many other areas of study.

Have you taken part in any student research opportunities at Oxy or elsewhere?

I'm currently completing my Senior Comps. My project, “Food as Inedible Spectacle: Culinary Tourism in the Digital Space,” takes a critical look at street food videos posted to platforms like YouTube and Instagram and attempts to understand the implications of seeing the creation of food as foreign spectacle. This spring, I will be taking a position as an EIA (a CCBL role that's sort of like a research-focused TA) for “Media Activism through Participatory Video.” After my comps are completed I hope to use my summer and senior year to expand my research into the question: how do we experience the consumption of food as spectacle in the digital space?

What are your ambitions post-Oxy and how has the liberal arts approach helped to shape these ambitions?

I want to continue on into graduate studies. I've always been interested in education and I have so many questions about the world of film and media that I both want to try to answer myself, but also want to collaborate with students with similar interests to me. Being able to teach and foster curiosity about the world in others is where my ambition has always pointed me. The best part of a liberal arts education is the interdisciplinary education and being able to apply the theory you learn in your major and minor classes to many other areas of study. For example, I watched the documentary Icarus for a philosophy class that concerned bioethics, but I found myself having discussions not only about the ethics of doping, but also the ethics of documentary filmmaking and filmmakers intervening in a narrative—something I'd been studying that semester in the MAC department.

Do you have any advice for a student considering a major in MAC?

Be sure to take the gateway classes ASAP if you have any interest in the department! 146 is a great introduction to media theory and dramatically changed the way I think about the world. Also, I’m totally biased here but really consider the Critical Media Studies track! Our section of the department is really open to the weirder visual ideas—in my comps class, we have students doing 360 video and participatory filmmaking as well as students doing the traditional video essays and written works. All of us are taking a more critical look at the media objects and practices we're engaging with on a daily basis; the production department is the place to go if you want to pursue a more narrative visual comps project!

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