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Film and Media Studies Program

  • Laura Major looks through a camera.

Alumni Spotlight: Laura Major

Class of 2006

Laura Major recently took time out of her schedule to tell us a bit about her experiences as a Film and Media Studies major and her current job at USC's Moving Image Research Collections (MIRC).

Welcome back to USC! What brought you back to the university?

Thank you! I had been away from South Carolina working at the film laboratory Colorlab in Maryland for a little over 9 years and although I loved the work, it was time for a change. I saw the open position at U of SC's film archive for a Library Manager and thought it might be nice to be back in Columbia!

Tell us about your current position.

I manage MIRC's film vaults at Fort Jackson, which houses our Fox Movietone collection, and the vaults at our site on campus. I also do the majority of film handling of our Nitrate collection for digitilization and continued long term storage of both analog and digital materials.

How can students become involved with MIRC and why would an internship or volunteer activity be beneficial for them to consider?

We always welcome student interns! We have undergrad and graduate level students throughout the year across our curatorial and digitization departments. It's an opportunity to introduce younger people to actual film, which is an incredibly important part of our history. We give the students plenty of film handling experience, and some research experience as well. If the students have any interest in production, my hope would be that they'd be inspired to try to use film, and a real film camera, for their next project.

What projects are you working on now at MIRC?

We're working on digitizing the entire Movietone collection right now, so I'm mostly bringing in batches of film reels and prepping the reels for digitization. Since a lot of reels are pushing 100 years old, the condition of the film isn't always great and requires some special attention.

Why did you major in Film and Media Studies?

I've always loved movies and television, and I knew I wanted to pursue a liberal arts and humanities degree.  When I learned that film and Media studies was an option as a major, I thought that I'd be better suited for it than English or History.

What was your first film and media job after graduation, and how did that job set you on a path to your current career?

I moved to New York City for one year after graduation, and I worked as an intern at the Flaherty Film Seminar, which I still help out with in the summers.  The connections I made through Flaherty and the Orphan Film Symposium -- as well as my later internship at the of  SC Newsfilm library (when I was working on my MLIS degree, Masters in Library and Information Science) led to my boss, Russ Suniewick, hearing about me and giving me a call when he was looking to fill a position. I spent 9 years working at Colorlab. I spent 9 years working at Colorlab, doing hands on film preservation, restoration, and printing. I was interested in working in this field from the library side of things, so I was excited to see this position posted at MIRC.

Do you have any advice for Film and Media Studies majors at USC?

Make sure to take at least a few courses outside your comfort zone -- maybe a genre or national cinema you're not familiar with. And try to attend some sort of conference or festival at some point.  There's a lot of incredible cinema out there, but you have to know what to look for and where to see it.

What was your favorite film and media studies course at USC?

The Film Archiving and Preservation course I took with Dan Streible (now at NYU) was obviously very influential, but I also really enjoyed my Pedro Almodovar class.

What is your current favorite film, tv show, and/or interactive game?

I'm not sure what my favorite movie is, but before I left Colorlab, I helped manage the preservation of several Barbara Hammer's films, and they currently hold a very special place in my heart.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.