A Castleton film studies student recently travelled to Indianapolis, Indiana to present original work at the 2018 Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association National Conference.
Madelaine Kopischke presented her 10-minute video essay on ‘German Expressionist Cinema and Its Influence on Tim Burton’ films in front of a panel of scholars March 28, with professor Sanjukta Ghosh by her side.
Ghosh said Kopischke was the perfect fit to take with her to the conference because she has the “will and desire” to constantly grow and improve within her work, which is exactly what she looks for in a student.
“She is someone who does not mind her work being critiqued again and again … and knows that any work can be improved,” Ghosh said. “It was just a natural that I would take her because her work was already good, and I wanted her to improve it so that it was fit enough for public screening.”
Kopischke said her experience at the conference was valuable because she learned a lot and was able to receive feedback from panelists, but also suggestions for other movies to research as well.
“You could hear everyone’s opinion, and they gave me really good tips on how I can improve my video essay,” she said. “It was cool because you could have a really great discussion with just these few people.”
The conference also taught her how important in-depth research can be to the success of a project, she said.
“When I went to the conference and listened to all the presentations – all the other professors – they knew everything! They knew all the background, all the history, all the politics, numbers and statistics! I was like ‘wow, how can they remember that?’” she said.
She was particularly proud of her work because it was the only video essay presented to the panel, she said.
“No one else had a video essay, so I felt kind of special that I had one,” Kopischke said chuckling. “I think people liked it because it was a little more interesting to watch the film instead of hearing someone talk about it the whole time.”
The idea for the video essay originated from her independent study on German cinema and a particular chapter on German Expressionism, which piqued her interest.
She began doing more research on the topic and decided that’s what she wanted to present in the conference, Kopischke said.
“Initially when we talked, her video essay was just about German Expressionism. I told her to bring it to something contemporary, why not see what parts of German Expressionism continue today, or where does German Expressionism show up in art or cinema,” Ghosh said.
Michael Talbott, chair of the Communication Department and Cinema Studies Coordinator said Kopischke has taken subsequent film courses like New Hollywood and International Cinema, so she has extensive experience making video essays.
“Dr. Ghosh encouraged her to submit a proposal to present some of her videographic work. She had previously made a video essay on German Expressionism and this was expanding on that and creating something new,” Talbott said.
He said that Kopischke is “incredibly driven” and extremely focused on her academics, which has to do with her dream of attending graduate school and doing advanced studies on film and cinema.
“So she’s focused on absorbing as much knowledge and as many academic skills as she can, so that she can go on and compete at a top graduate program,” Talbott said.
Kopischke said she would present at a national conference again if given the opportunity.
“I will definitely take this video essay and take all the critiques from the people at the conference and improve it,” she said. “Then I will take this video essay maybe to another conference in the future.”