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Jessie Brown talks about fourth year

A day in the life

Jessie Brown talks about fourth year

Jessie Brown_film studies_profile_2

Dal is a great school, and Halifax is a great city for students, with the arts scene, and the great downtown. I’ve never regretted coming for one second. If I’d gone elsewhere, I wouldn’t have developed the interests I have now.

The art—and science—of film

It might not be a subject combination many undergraduates think of doing. But Jessie Brown, from Moncton, New Brunswick, is making a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Kinesiology fit with classes in Dal’s Film Studies program.

“I’m interested in how scientific information is presented in film—and how that often ends up being false or misleading in some way,” she explains. “Right now, I’m working on an essay on the representation of mental illness in Black Swan.”

The first Film Studies course Jessie took was Popular Cinema, which covered contemporary Hollywood productions, as well as Hong Kong and Bollywood cinema. “I really enjoyed it,” she says. “The ideological analysis was interesting—it was new for me to look at film that way.”

“Ideological analysis can be a difficult concept to understand. A film might attempt to say one thing through narrative,” she continues, “but when you look at other choices made, like who’s cast and the composition of the shots, you realize it’s not so straightforward. Films will sometimes undercut their message.”

Another course she enjoyed was Documentary, Experimental, and Animated Film, which “showed a wide range of genres, styles, directors—it was great for opening my eyes a little more, especially to documentaries made by Canadian filmmakers I probably never would’ve heard of on my own,” Jessie says.

She mentions that Alanis Obomsawin’s documentary about the 1990 Oka Crisis, Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, was one of her favourites: “It’s an excellent documentary—a riveting, emotional roller-coaster ride that really gives you the sense of what the people involved were going through.”

Looking ahead to graduate studies, Jessie says she’ll be able to “apply my quantitative science training to an arts-related, qualitative interdisciplinary master’s program. Having both backgrounds will be beneficial, especially when reading the scientific literature and using statistical analysis software.”

“I’m happy to have an interdisciplinary background,” she smiles. “It’s changed how I look at problems—I can take different approaches to solving them. And these days, a lot of programs seem to be looking for someone with varied experience.”

Jessie encourages others to explore: “Whatever program you’re doing, take electives you’re interested in—you might discover a way to have a career in something you truly enjoy for the rest of your life.”