Program House Spotlight: Film Hall
Deep underground, hidden among the winding passageways of the Nics, there is one hall that stands apart from the rest. Only 12 select students hold the key to program housing’s best kept secret and the University’s largest combination kitchen/living room/dining room/movie theatre. In this hall, the kitchen is never clean, the company is always merry, and every night is movie night. Originally established in 2004 by a group of film enthusiasts and first located at 344 Washington, Film Hall is now found in the basement of Nics 6.
“Being a transfer, I wanted to see a different part of the school,” said Faisal Kirdar ’13, who moved in at the beginning of the spring semester. “[Film Hall] is definitely a great place to live for a sophomore…everyone here has their own thing going, but at the same time, the space forms a community very well.”
The hall consists of five two-room doubles and two singles, a full operating kitchen, and a large projector in a viewing area that serves as the cornerstone of their program hall.
“We generally have bi-weekly film screenings and advertise through Facebook, Wesleying, and e-mail,” said Daniele Packard ’13, the house manager. “We’ve had up to 40 people show up. They’re generally pretty low-key, but it’s a fun way to share our interests and community with the rest of Wesleyan.”
Film Hall has to purchase the rights to any film they officially screen. The hall has a special relationship with Swank Motion Pictures, a company that sells rights. Swank allows Film Hall to obtain the rights to many films at a discount price.
“Any Hollywood or more modern movie, Swank will have, but as soon as you try and get an older movie—for example, we screened ‘Lord of the Flies’ on Friday, and we wanted to screen the 1963 version of ‘Lord of the Flies,’ but Swank only had the 1990 version…so we could only get the rights for that one,” Packard explained.
In addition to screening films of interest for their group of 12, Film Hall sometimes collaborates with other program houses to show films that cross over in subject matter or have a broader appeal.
“A lot of other program houses come to me when they want to screen a movie…so we [sometimes] co-host a screening with another program house,” Packard said. “For example, ‘Lord of the Flies’ was co-hosted with Writing House…[and] we’re going to be co-hosting a movie called ‘An Island’ on March 27 with Music House because it’s kind of a music video/movie. We might also co-host ‘Into the Wild’ with Out House or some other similar movie.”
A discussion usually follows screenings at Film Hall. Professors occasionally attend screenings and lead discussions afterward. Otherwise, viewers ordinarily stay after the screening for a casual peer-led discussion.
“Our film screenings tend to be more informal,” Packard said, “[Because] we like to offer an alternative, more casual film showings to the ones at the Goldsmith Family Cinema, which generally are Q&As with directors and stuff like that.”
Film Hall hosts other types of special events during the course of the school year. This coming Sunday, in honor of the 83rd Academy Award Ceremony, Film Hall will host an Oscar viewing party.
“We didn’t have [an Oscar party] last year, but it used to be a Film Hall tradition [and] I’m bringing it back,” Packard said. “We’re having a formal event where everyone dresses up and comes over to watch…People will try and guess who’s going to win and there will be prizes for those who guess [the winners] correctly. It should be fun. Definitely, whoever ends up reading this, come to the Oscar party.”
The application for Film Hall, due this Friday, along with the other 31 program house applications, is designed to bring together the most compatible group of sophomore film buffs on campus.
“We have questions on the application like ‘craft a film series’,” said John Schmidt ’13, another resident of Film Hall. “Don’t be trite or obvious; say something interesting and creative, because that’s your opportunity to craft a unique answer that shows your personality, which is really what we want to see…so you should really take advantage of that.”
Although many Wesleyan students may assume that Film Hall has a “film majors only need apply” sign tacked on their door, the hall welcomes all majors. In fact, this year, only one of Film Hall’s 12 residents happens to be a film major.
“You absolutely don’t need to be a film major to apply to Film Hall or be in Film Hall,” Packard said. “I, personally, am not, and I’m the ‘house’ manager. You just need to love movies.”