Professor of the Year: Dr. Eric Faden

Jen Lassen, Editor-in-chief

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Eric Faden, associate professor of English and Film/Media Studies, came to the University in August 2000 and has been the driving force behind the Film/Media program. Since then, Faden has worked to establish a relationship with the Campus Theatre by starting the non-profit organization that currently operates the theatre in conjunction with the University. He also influenced the 2001 and 2005 renovations of the Campus Theatre. Academically, Faden spearheaded the creation of the Film/Media concentration within the English major with his colleagues in the English department. Additionally, Faden has taught and currently teaches a number of film and media classes. In Faden’s Film/Video Production Clinic, students get a real-world experience creating videos for local non-profit organizations. Students are involved in every part of the filmmaking process. From client selection to pre- and post-production, Faden teaches students all the skills to make professional videos. In our world where images, media, and technology dominate, Faden aims to provide students with meaningful experiences that will set them apart and benefit them beyond their years at this University.

1. When did you first become interested in film/media studies?

I teach in a strange field in that there are very few people who hate movies. I really became academically interested when I did a lot of work on intellectual property law and media law, and it kind of grew out of there. Then I ended up getting my Master’s and PhD in Film Studies.

2. Why did you decide to become a professor?

I like teaching. For me, what makes movies and media really, really interesting is that it’s something that’s very pervasive throughout our culture. We all see movies and we all understand what movies are kind of doing, but very few people really realize the mechanics of how a film is making meaning. I was interested in that, and I enjoyed researching and teaching about that.

3. What has been your experience establishing the film/media program at the University?

A very long haul. It’s been an overwhelming amount of work, and it’s not necessarily something that I’m prone to in terms of talent. It’s something that really requires effort on my part. I’ve really appreciated the enthusiasm of students; that helps keep me going. It’s a lot of coordination in trying to build student interest and trying to build resources at the same time, as well as expanding faculty to keep up with [the program]. So it’s a lot of work that doesn’t come naturally to me.

4. Why did you decide to grow the program? 

It was something that I was very, very interested in. Obviously, one always wants the discipline that you’re working in to grow rather than fail. At Bucknell, it was a situation where I was one of the first specialists brought in, and so it–for better or for worse–fell to me. Unless you really push for things like [the Film/Media Studies program], nothing just naturally falls out of the sky. We have to remember that when I first arrived, there was nothing; the library had only eight DVDs total. There was no Campus Theatre relationship; there was no Production Studio; in fact, there were no production facilities to speak of at all. There was a student group that used a small amount of equipment, but that’s really what drove my hire was the student enthusiasm. It was a matter of taking something that, in terms of filmmaking, was more or less a student club, and trying to implement that on a larger scale.

5. What do you hope to see/implement for the future of the program?

More permanent faculty and staff to directly support the program.

6. What are your main goals for your students?

All along, my goal is media literacy and media competency. We live in a world now that has moved way beyond text as a means of communication. Fifty years ago, if you wanted to make a meaningful contribution to society or culture, you were a writer. Today, I think that’s still true–writing is a key component–but to really participate in today’s society and culture, you have to not only know how to read images and media in a very sophisticated way, but it’s also important to be competent in producing images and media in a sophisticated way. That’s actually how we now talk to millions of people.

7. What do you like most about your job? What is your biggest challenge?

What I love most is that I more or less get to engage with something I’m deeply interested in every single day, which is awesome. Bucknell has been a tremendously supportive place, especially in terms of resources. I don’t want to create the impression that the University has been unsupportive or unresponsive. It just takes a long time to build things. There’s just no other place in the U.S. where you can watch films as part of your normal classroom experience, on 35 mm film, in an art deco movie palace. It’s amazing. The facilities we have in the studio are incredible. Realistically, most students will be taking a step backwards when they get into the real world in terms of the access to this equipment and software if they want to be filmmakers. That’s been a huge pleasure of my job is the resources and the support that we’ve had. The challenge is that everything’s always a moving target. We had no major, and then we had a concentration that a few people were interested in, then suddenly we have around 27 majors which is great. But that requires the re-deployment of all sorts of other resources: we need more faculty, we need more staff, etc. The moment that one thing is supported and grown, it creates all sorts of other fires that you have to put out elsewhere. It’s a great example of ‘be careful what you wish for.’ It’s always a challenge. My ultimate hope is to pass the baton so that other folks can run with [this program] and grow it even beyond what I’ve imagined.
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