History of Film at Mason

In 2006, the Deans and faculty members of the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, along with a group of local filmmakers known as the Friends of Film, created the first multidisciplinary undergraduate degree in film in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

From the beginning, the Film and Video Studies program offered a combination of courses that remains unusual in academic film programs, including film production, the business of film, and film analysis and theory. Our core courses focused on film production, screenwriting, business, criticism, theory, and ethics.  

Over the years, Film at Mason has grown. More faculty have joined the team. Our student numbers increased from 7 to 200. We invented new courses, including Advanced Video EditingFiction Film DirectingFilm Marketing, Afrofuturism and Their Kin, Ways of Thinking: Film, TV, and Beyond, Video Production for Social Change, and Career Development Seminar. In addition, courses such as Introduction to World Cinema and Global Horror Film (both offered in person and online) have been included in the General Education Core curriculum for the entire university. 

First FAVS class 2008
Professor Tommy Britt pictured with the first FAVS graduating class in 2008.  

Professor Emeritus Cindy Lont, Associate Professor Cynthia Fuchs, and Professor Thomas Britt crafted the Film at Mason program (formerly known as FAVS), At the time, Cynthia Fuchs was housed in the English Department, where she directed the Film and Media Studies Minor, as well as the Visiting Filmmakers Series at Mason; Film at Mason Advisor Wayne Adams served as our first Student Advisor. 

Arts by George FAVS 2013
Film students have fun supporting our Fall scholarship benefit, Arts by George in 2013. 

Professor Benjamin Steger came on board to build more production courses.  Professor Giovanna Chesler became director in Fall of 2013. Our faculty expanded quickly; Associate Professor in Cinematography Hans Charles joined in Fall 2014, followed by Associate Term Professor in Editing Amanda Kraus in Fall 2015. Assistant Professor of Film Business and Producing Lisa Thrasher joined Film at Mason in Fall 2016. Following, Assistant Professor in Directing and Editing Maura Ugarte and Assistant Professor in Directing and Scriptwriting Nikyatu Jusu joined our number in Fall 2018. In Spring 202, our current Interim Program Director Cynthia Fuchs officially moved from English to Film. We then hired our newest faculty members, Assistant Term Professor Samirah Alkassim in Fall 2020 and Assistant Term Professor Justin Plakas in Fall 2021. 

Harris Theatre - FAVS@10
Film at Mason’s FAVS@10 celebration and annual Mason Film Festival. The Harris Theatre was a packed house in honor of our tenth anniversary.

Our staff has expanded over the years as well. Academic Advisor Lori Yi joined Film at Mason in Fall 2015, Academic and Program Manager Samantha Beach Sinagra joined in Spring 2017, and Technical Manager Andrew Jorgensen joined in Summer 2017. More recently, Post-Production Coordinator Evan Bowen and Exhibitions and Office Coordinator Anjuli Singh joined us in Summer 2021.  

When Film at Mason alums return and say, “Wow! I wish you had that course [or that professor or that equipment] when I was there,” we're reminded of the inspiration, energy, and focus on the future that inform our ongoing innovations and expansions, as well as our dedication to antiracism, inclusion, and social justice. As we train our students to think critically and create original art, we encourage them to embrace opportunities and change the industry.  

Join us in creating a new history at George Mason University by giving a gift to our student scholarship program. 

FAVS 499 2022
Class of 2022 FAVS 499 Directing Students with Professor Steger at the Mason Film Festival.