One of the very first things that I learned about USC, besides from its location in the heart of Los Angeles, was its strong (perhaps, the strongest) cinematic arts program. Now of course, my academic interests did not lie in film, instead in Computer Science, but movies had always been a favorite pastime of mine both between producing them and viewing them. Something that did end up contributing to my decision to come to USC, was the fact that I would be able to easily continue and foster this hobby by taking classes at the School of Cinematic Arts, alongside some of the world’s most influential and knowledgeable professors and incredibly creative students. Right when I had the chance to first register for classes, there was one course I knew I was not going to compromise on while creating my schedule: CTCS 190, Introduction to Cinema.
When I toured campus for the first time, my tour guide raved and bragged about a class where you sat in a theatre and watched movies, and then talked about them. I could barely hold my excitement as I realized that I could get graded on something that I would never complain about doing in my free time. Fall of 2020, I had the opportunity to take the course, and while it was virtual, I was still promised a similar experience of group viewing and discussion. What I had no idea of before taking the course was how much of an impact the professor would have on our experience. Professor Carstocea would start every meeting with a brief lecture on the topic of the week, material that we would keep in mind while later watching whatever the film was related to the presentation. All of the lectures were incredibly engaging and informative, and were followed with an online viewing session. After the movie, we got to discuss the things we noticed and how they applied to the lecture, aspects that we enjoyed and disliked, and our overall thoughts on the work. While the majority of students were some sort of Film major, it was close to an even split between those within and outside of SCA.
Many engineering students, including myself, took the course as a chance to explore a hobby and at the same time give the “other side” of our brains a chance to get fully engaged. While I was certainly disappointed that I wasn’t able to sit in person for lectures and viewings in the incredible theatres of SCA, I am grateful for the positive impact the course had on my first semester, and the fact that I was able to take a class so “far away” from my major in the first place. I can’t wait to keep exploring my options outside of engineering as I continue to dive deeper into my own major.