Visiting Assistant Professor of Film Studies Hosts Screening of His Film at Cinestudio

Ben Bowman’s ‘Knucklehead’ Followed by Q&A and Screening of Students’ Short Films

​Alfre Woodard and Gbenga Akinnagbe in a scene from "Knucklehead," a film by writer-director Ben Bowman, who is a visiting assistant professor of film studies at Trinity.
Hartford, Connecticut, December 30, 2016 – Trinity College students and members of the greater Hartford community gathered at Cinestudio on December 3 for a special screening of the first feature-length film by writer-director Ben Bowman, who is a visiting assistant professor of film studies at Trinity. Following the screening of his film, “Knucklehead,” Bowman answered questions from the audience about how he first got the idea for the film, the process of writing with a partner, casting, shooting, the storytelling choices he made, and some of the challenges of making a film on a small, independent budget.

The question and answer session was followed by a screening of the films created by Trinity students as part of the film course that Bowman taught this semester. In the FILM 309 Production class, students participate in a real film shoot with the instructor and then make their own short films. The topic of the class changes based on the instructor teaching it. Last year, students were able to create their own music videos under the guidance of Los Angeles-based director and cinematographer Justin Francis. As taught by Bowman, the class was called “Directing the Scene” and focused on how a director prepares a script and effectively communicates with the crew and actors in order to achieve the director’s vision for the scene.

​(Above) Ben Bowman works on set with Trinity students as his film crew. Photo by Aurora Bellard '17. (Below) Bowman and his "Directing the Scene" students. Photo by Keian Huggins.
Film Studies is an interdisciplinary program at Trinity, so unlike many other majors, the program draws from the expertise of faculty members from many different departments across campus. Madalene Spezialetti, associate professor of computer science and the director of Trinity’s Film Studies Program, said the program provides students with a great deal of flexibility in their course choices and a wide range of topics related to film and media from which to choose. “FILM 309 is a practicum class that provides students with a unique learning experience,” Spezialetti said. “It provides them with the opportunity to benefit from the expertise and experience of directors who are working professionals. The instructor Skypes into class once a week to teach and then comes to Trinity for a weekend practicum, in which the students work with the director in shooting a short film.”

Bowman came to campus on September 24 and 25 and brought with him cinematographer Frankie Turiano and actress Erin Washington. The team worked with students in workshops on cinematography, casting, and directing actors on Saturday and spent Sunday shooting a short film with the students acting as the crew. In this way, students in the course were also able to benefit from Bowman’s own professional network. Spezialetti added, “He also had a New York-based writer join one of the Skype classes and speak to each student about their approaches to the scenes they were developing. A New York-based professional editor joined another Skype class.”

Student Dylan Landry ’20 said that the advice he received from Bowman went beyond what a typical film class could offer. “Because we were working with a director who has so much experience in the film industry, it was interesting to not only learn the fundamentals of directing, but also to gain insider knowledge about how to be successful as a director or in the film industry in general,” Landry said. “This was an indispensable course because that kind of knowledge can make all the difference.”

Lauren Wiener ’18 added, “As someone who wants to write and direct for film, this class was really beneficial to me, as I learned more about the role of the director by getting the opportunity to see Ben Bowman’s approach to directing. Learning from him and getting to make my own film helped solidify that this is what I want to do with my life once I graduate.”

Written by Eleanor Worsley ’17