Graduating Senior Reflects on Film Studies Education at MSU

Madeline Strong is graduating from Michigan State University in Spring 2023 with a B.A. in Film Studies. During her time at MSU, she gained experience working as a videographer for MSU’s Culinary Services and for the MSU Student Organic Farms.

Pete Johnston, Academic Specialist and Digital Media/Film Production Manager, had this to say about Strong: “Maddie has always been a strong (no pun intended!) student, a great writer, and a committed filmmaker. Good filmmakers can work across disciplines, they’re well-rounded. Maddie has written great scripts, made some really clever shorts, worked in the art department, she even wrote and recorded a song for the Fiction Capstone. And her short film PB&J was a total riot. That’s a well-rounded filmmaker!”

Jeff Wray, Professor of Film Studies and Timnick Chair in the Humanities, said that “Maddie is a bit quiet at times, but she is a force. A jack of all trades, she knows how to do so many things that I am always confident in whatever Maddy takes on. When she speaks up, her classmates and filmmaking collaborators always listen to her.”

Madeline Strong

Strong took some time, as she prepares for graduation, to answer the following questions about her Film Studies education at MSU. This Q&A originally was published on the Department of English 2023 Senior Spotlight web page.

How would you describe your time as a Film Studies major at MSU? 

Being a Film Studies major at MSU has been amazing. I’ve met a lot of hardworking, creative people who are passionate about film production and storytelling. Throughout my years at MSU, I’ve been encouraged to grow as a filmmaker and a writer, and I’ve felt supported through all artistic endeavors. 

Which classes, instructors, or experiences particularly stand out for you and why?

The most impactful experience I’ve had at MSU has been the Fiction Filmmaking Capstone class. Pete Johnston and Jeff Wray were always encouraging through all of my classes with them, but this one was so memorable. They guided me and my peers through the process of making a short film, being hands-on only when needed. I learned valuable skills about production, planning, dedication, and teamwork.  

What coursework-related projects were you working on this year, and what interests or excites you about them?

Again, the Fiction Filmmaking Capstone was my main focus throughout this year. It took a lot of dedication and resilience from everyone involved to pull this off. I’m immensely proud of how our film “Promises, Promises” turned out, and I’ll miss the incredible cast and crew I spent months with. 

What advice would you give future English or Film Studies majors?

Be ready to write, a lot. Take advantage of all the creative clubs MSU has to offer. Connect with other students, because they’ll be there to hold a boom-mic in your future products. And create as much as possible! 

What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation? 

I hope to move to Chicago and learn as much as possible from professional production crews. My dream is to travel all over the world making impactful films or documentaries and meeting other creatively driven people.