Film & Video

Film & Video Student Justin Wan wins MD’s Grand Champion prize

Justin Wan, Mason Film & Video Summer Camp 2020 alumnus, recently won the Grand Champion prize at the Montgomery County Fair 2020. “After I finished attending George Mason University’s filmmaking camp, I decided to create another short film to practice the skills I had learned. To my surprise, I had received the prize for turning in a small project of mine. I was motivated and encouraged to further my hobby of filmmaking,” Wan said.

A first-timer of Mason Community Arts Academy’s Filmmaking Workshop, Wan advanced his technical skills and dived into deep learning of the filmmaking process with award-winning producer and George Mason University professor Lisa Thrasher.

“I always talk with the Summer Filmmaking Workshop students about applying to college film programs and film festivals with their camp films. One of the 2018 & 2019 participants started as a Film and Video Studies major at Mason this fall. Now, Wan’s award is another exciting first for our Summer Filmmaking Workshop alumni. It’s a thrill to see their drive and successes,” said Professor Thrasher.



A rising filmmaker with a passion for documentary and visual poems, Wan said it wasn’t an easy process at first when finding ideas that represent him. As he continued to think about the meaning of life while experiencing a global pandemic, Wan started to experiment with a short visual poem to share his reflections of life and his path.

“I enjoy these types of genres because whenever there is a pressing issue, I feel like it can be voiced through a film,” Wan explained, a freshman at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland. “No matter how small or big the topic at hand is, I enjoy making these types of films. It offers a voice to me and to the many other filmmakers who have a message to pass on.”

“Justin displayed an advanced level of commitment to artistry and drive for filmmaking, which resulted in a beautiful and moving short film.” Thrasher shared her interaction with Wan during the two weeks of the filmmaking Summer program.

Demonstrating much talent and interest in multimedia storytelling, Wan said that the process of brainstorming ideas, executing the shoots, and creating a visual story is a gratifying experience that inspires him to advance his love for filmmaking.



“It’s inspiring to see young filmmakers create,” Professor Thrasher said of her experience working with Summer Filmmaking Workshop participants. “With today’s technology and so much access to behind-the-scenes videos from their favorite directors, many young filmmakers have already honed their creative vision and craft to a point that they are already creating college-level work. I’m excited to see where they go next.”

With the recent success of winning an award, Wan is working on a new documentary for the C-SPAN StudentCam Competition, combining his interest in filmmaking with voicing his opinion.

“This was something that fit right in my alley,” said Wan. “But to be honest, this was a little out of my comfort zone, so having a friend push me was important when undertaking these daunting projects.”

Wan enjoys making films as a hobby and is looking forward to further improving his skills through more creative projects. “For all of the people who say that filmmaking is just a hobby, I say that you guys are already a step ahead,” said Wan. “Continue to do what you enjoy with passion and persistence. To those of you reading, I hope that you don’t give up on something before you even have the chance to try it.”



Acting Art Film & Video Music Publicity

Summer 2020 Highlights


Mason Community Arts Academy concluded its Summer Arts at Mason 2020 programming online with new records. Throughout the week, hundreds of students engaged in live-streamed classes, guest artist presentations, and one-on-one coaching with Mason faculty, industry professionals, and special guests. Some of the students participated from different time zones, logging on from the West Coast, and even from other countries. Here is a snapshot of Summer 2020 at the Academy:

  • 1023 participants in Summer Arts at Mason Online Programs
  • 74 online programs for all ages
  • 5 creative categories: acting, music, film & video, visual art, and teacher training
  • Students were streaming from 11 countries and 32 states, including District of Columbia
  • More than 100 faculty and guest artists teaching in at least one of the online programs
  • 70% of our teaching staff, guest artists, and program assistants are Mason faculty, students, and alumni
  • 306 students continued online private music lessons throughout summer
  • 1954 music lessons booked in summer 2020

We are extremely proud of our accomplishments and cannot thank enough to our students, families, faculty, and staff for their continuous support.


Looking Forward

This fall, the Academy offers 22 group classes in music, acting, and visual art for 18 months to adult. Some new additions include:

All classes will be held in a live-streamed, interactive format with supplemental materials or videos for more individualized learning.


Full Class List

Announcements Art Events Film & Video

Off the Wall, Saturday, February 22

George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts invites the Academy family to Off the Wall, a family-friendly design, media, and fine arts festival featuring creative cuisine and local brewery and distillery tastings!

WHAT: Off the Wall fundraising benefit
WHEN: Saturday, February 22, 2020  |  2-5 p.m.
WHERE: Art & Design Building, Mason Fairfax Campus  See Map
PARKING: Event participants can park in the nearby Parking Lot A
$30, General admission
$20, Mason alumni, faculty, and staff
$10, Ages 14-18
Free, Children 13 and under

Every Spring George Mason University opens its Art and Design Building to alumni, parents, prospective students, and the public for a hands-on showcase of the visual arts at Mason. Tour 15 open studios and hands-on exhibits with student and faculty artists, enjoy the music, plus create your own works of art—it’s a great party!

Ticket and sponsorship proceeds support arts scholarships and guest artist residencies. Sponsorship opportunities begin at $500. For more information, contact Emily Rusch at 703-993-3872 or



Film & Video

Filmmaking Camps Produce Fun Short Films Through Teamwork

Our two-week Filmmaking Summer Workshops (Middle School July 8-19, High School July 22-Aug 2) give students an exciting opportunity to develop their creative expression and technical knowledge of film production, one of the most competitive and top-grossing industries today.

Mason Professors Lisa Thrasher and Lucy Gebre-Egziabher from Mason Film & Video Studies lead the workshops, along with student assistants from the university program. Located on the Mason Fairfax campus in Fairfax, VA (in the Washington, DC Metro area), the camps takes place in the university classrooms and computer labs in the Art & Design Building. The final film debuts usually take place in Mason’s movie theater.

Students are thoughtfully separated into small groups for the duration of the program in order to learn teamwork and collaboration. Fun communal creative exercises are employed for icebreakers and for bonding. The workshop is designed to stimulate kids intellectually, creatively, and socially through teamwork.


Students at Filmmaking Camp


“This year’s program will focus on quality story telling and creative visual interpretation of the scripts,” said Ms. Thrasher.

“In addition to learning about the filmmaking process and taking part in an actual film production, students will also get to watch short films and critique them, cultivating their film analysis skills,” explained Ms. Gebre-Egziabher.

The Filmmaking Workshops are a great way for kids and teens to develop their filmmaking talent, teamwork, story-telling, visual expression, and technical skills – qualities sought, needed, and used by not only the entertainment industry, but also by every company in America – all of whom use audio/visual works to promote their products/services and communicate with their customers!


Students at Filmmaking Camp


“I am always so impressed by the students’ knowledge, commitment to the process, and the films themselves!” stated Ms. Thrasher.

“This program does more than teach kids how to make films,” emphasized Ms. Gebre-Egziabher, “It helps them work with a team of their peers, it gives them an opportunity to bond socially with other kids, and it gives them the chance to see the fruits of their labor at the end – the film they make together! I often witness the shyest kids at the beginning of the program become the liveliest by the end.”


A selection of film scripts from the Screenwriting Workshop, June 24-28, are voted on to be used in the Filmmaking camps. Sign up to help write the scripts too!




Art Film & Video

Students Create Animation Film Sets & Videos At STEAM Art Camp

Our Stop Motion Animation Art Camp (July 8-12 or July 15-19) is a fun STEAM-based program that gives students ages 9-12 the opportunity to build sets and set pieces, use stop motion film techniques to create a short film, and tell a great story. Family and friends will be wow-ed and entertained by the final outcome!

Fairfax County Public School Art Teacher Casey Shannon instructs this dynamic program, in collaboration with Mason’s School of Art. Located on the Mason Fairfax campus in Fairfax, VA (in the Washington, DC Metro area), the camp takes place in the university classrooms and computer labs in the Art & Design Building. The director of Mason’s Art Education Master’s program, Dr. Justin Sutters, oversees the program along with the other visual art camps.



“Stop Motion Animation is an incredibly fun way to practice problem solving and creative/critical thinking,” stated Mr. Shannon. “The animation process involves creating a vision, and working through trial and error to make that vision come to life. Each camper works collaboratively to make their vision become a real animation.”

Students use a large variety of materials to build their sets and characters, including clay, paint, drawings, and Legos®. Interesting materials are used to create special effects. From there, students use photo imagery and special software to create their short animated film.



“I always enjoy the last day of camp, when all of the parents come into the classroom, and we watch the final animation films together,” said Mr. Shannon. “Everyone is laughing and enjoying, and it is a really fun way to end the week.”



Would you like to become a storyteller, a set and prop builder, a cinematographer, and a film and special effects editor in one week? Stop motion animation is a collaborative and fun way to tell any story you’d like!




Film & Video

Summer Screenwriting Brings Great Characters To Life

Are you a creative writer, playwright, and/or storyteller between the ages of 11 and 18? The Summer Screenwriting Workshop, June 24-28, 2019, can help you create and develop amazing characters, translate stories and dialogue into tv and movie ready scripts, and give you tools to transfer your ideas and plotlines to the written page.

George Mason University Professor Amanda Kraus leads this exciting program, in collaboration with Mason’s Film & Video Studies Program. Located on the Mason Fairfax campus in Fairfax, VA (in the Washington, DC Metro area), the workshop uses the university classrooms in the Art & Design Building.



With the underlying theme that good stories come from great characters, the topic of character development is one that is heavily emphasized, discussed and explored.

“Your child can look forward to a fun structured camp where they learn the fundamentals of good story telling,” stated Professor Kraus.


Students reading at summer Screenwriting camp


“I love working with the students and seeing their ideas come to life throughout the workshop,” said Ms. Kraus. “One of my favorite parts is on the last day, when they do the performed table reads of their scripts, and also the a-ha moment when they realize how to break down the structure of a story.”


Summer Screenwriting Workshop 2019 Flier


Another fun feature of the program is that selected final scripts will have a chance to be used in the following Filmmaking Workshops, where the stories and characters will come to life on the screen in several edited versions.

“Good stories come from great characters and great characters come from living your best life,” proclaimed Professor Kraus. “What inspires you? Write about it!”




DOWNLOAD FLIER (spread the word!)


Film & Video Music

Filmscoring Camp Takes Young Music Composers To The Movies

Mason alum and Hollywood composer Vincent Oppido returns to Fairfax from Los Angeles for another extraordinary Art of Filmscoring summer camp, June 24-28, 2019. More advanced music composition students ages 13-18 are invited to go to the movies!

Vincent Oppido is a rising talent in Hollywood. His music has been performed and recorded in Europe and Japan, and across the United States from Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood scoring stages of Warner Brothers and Sony Pictures Studios. He returns to Mason’s School of Music on the Mason Fairfax campus in Fairfax, VA (in the Washington, DC Metro area), where years ago he studied composition and conducting with Professors Mark Camphouse and Anthony Maiello (pictured below with Mr. Oppido at Mason in 2013).


Vincent Oppido and Anthony Maiello


Mr. Oppido’s recent scoring credits include the indie films Alien Code (Archstone/Sony Home Pictures – starring Kyle Gallner and Richard Schiff), Watch the Sky (Breaking Glass Pictures – starring Renee O’Connor), and the upcoming CollegeHumor series Troopers. Other writing credits include original music for Sinclair Oil‘s 2017 commercial advertisements and musical source arrangements for projects such as It Happened In LA (Sundance Selected) and the upcoming Paramount Pictures film What Men Want. He has also composed additional music for projects including Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween and TruTV’s Adam Ruins Everything: Reanimated History.  Also an orchestrator, Oppido has worked on projects such as Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2Cobra Kai, and NBC’s Timeless. His first job in Hollywood, as a music proofreader, enabled him to work on dozens of motion pictures and television shows including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Frozen,Family Guy and The 2013 Oscars.


Listen to examples of works by Vincent Oppido:

Audio Player image


The Art of Filmscoring workshop gives students an inside look into today’s film and TV industry and provides some  direction as they consider next steps for higher education and/or a professional career. They will learn specific compositional skills to be a unique composer in today’s media and technology-driven age.

“We will take a look at some recent projects I worked on, including the upcoming College Humor series Troopers, the video game Fortnite, and the TV series Adam Ruins Everything,” said Mr. Oppido.


Filmscoring Workshop Flier 2019


“Watching student’s compositional growth in just a few days of study at the camp is wonderful to witness,” shared Mr. Oppido. “One of my favorite moments is at the end of the week when the students share the scenes they rescored.”

If you love creating music and are considering a career in composing music for film, television and other media, then you will have a great time at the Art of Filmscoring!




DOWNLOAD FLIER (spread the word!)


Acting Film & Video

Summer Screenwriting Camp Builds Characters

For Mason Film & Video Studies Professor Amanda Kraus, it’s all about building character – or better said, “characters” – when writing a good script, as she will demonstrate in this summer’s Screenwriting Workshop, which focuses on creative writing techniques for movies and television.

The workshop dates are July 9-13, and it is open to kids and teens ages 11-18. Due to the large age range, students will be divided into teams accordingly. Character development, plot and dialogue will be explored as students try their hand at writing their own scripts.

“Your child will learn that great stories come from great characters,” explained Ms. Kraus. “We will focus on how to develop these characters that ultimately audiences will love and care about and become invested in. In the end, they will learn how to be a better writer!”


Summer screenwriting workshop for kids


Some fun elements of the program include the “Getting to Know Your Character” exercise, group brainstorming sessions, and the opportunity for creatively minded students to collaborate/ write together.

At the end of the week, the students will present staged readings of their scripts to parents, families and friends. “The reading of the scripts on the last day is one of my favorite moments, as both a teacher and a scriptwriter,” said Ms. Kraus.



To add an extra bit of excitement, through a voting process, a few of the scripts will have a chance to be produced and filmed in the following Filmmaking Workshops! Although it is not required, many Screenwriting students will also register for the two-week film workshop to have a complete summer experience.




Film & Video

New Summer Film Camp Focuses On Documentary Storytelling

Mason Film & Video Studies Professor Sam Meddis, formerly a deputy managing editor and video team lead at USA TODAY, will direct the new “Making Of A Documentary” summer workshop for teens, where students will produce fact-based films depicting the stories of real places and people around them.

In contrast to our popular Summer Filmmaking Workshops, which tend to explore fictional storytelling and characters, the two-week Documentary workshop, June 18-29, will blend filmmaking, journalism and principles of photography to provide students with an immersive experience which will help them see with new eyes and greater empathy things in the real world that are often unobserved or taken for granted, and to tell that story. Working as filmmaking teams, students will learn how to better collaborate and communicate with their peers, and produce their own short documentary film.


Film and video summer camp


In addition to producing short documentaries, students will also watch, and learn how to interpret, some of the world’s top documentaries. They will study in a collaborative environment designed to help produce a lifelong appreciation of documentary films.

“We live in an increasingly visual society,” explained Mr. Meddis. “This course will help equip students to more fully participate in it by learning the fundamentals of visual storytelling and communication. Students will experience the personal satisfaction that comes from expressing themselves creatively.They will begin to acquire skills that they can apply to a wide range of fields in in their education, future careers and beyond.  Most important, they will realize that filmmaking is great fun!”

In previous roles at USA TODAY, Sam Meddis helped oversee news coverage and operations of, coordinated training programs for print and online editorial staff, and supervised the editorial technology group. He is a founding member both of and USA TODAY the newspaper. At Mason, Mr. Meddis was awarded a GMU Adjunct Teaching Excellence Award in 2018 and  a GMU Teacher of Distinction commendation in 2017 for his work in the Film & Video Studies program.



“My favorite part of the workshop is the final day,” said Mr. Meddis, who produced the video above, “when students’ films are presented in the class for family and friends, and we all get to applaud their fine work.”

Although not required as a prerequisite, students who have previously taken our Filmmaking Workshops are highly encouraged to attend. Spaces are limited for this program – sign up now!






Film & Video Music

Film Composer Brings Hollywood To Mason This Summer

Hollywood film and TV composer and Mason alum Vincent Oppido (whose orchestration credits include Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2) returns to Mason this summer to present “The Art of Filmscoring” to musically advanced high school students, where they will explore the techniques and software used in composing music for a motion picture!

This exciting new summer workshop, June 25-29, will include studying scores and sketches of John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and others, rescoring select scenes from motion pictures, 2 or 3 SKYPE sessions with industry professionals (composer assistant turned composer, orchestrator, music copyist), a review of college programs that are devoted to Film Scoring, and discussions about work opportunities in Los Angeles for young/emerging composers after college.

Mr. Oppido has scored numerous films, some of which have screened at film festivals around the world, including Charlie Joe’s Hotel Motel (Hollywood Film Festival and Madrid International Film Festival – nominated for Best Short Film), Cineastes (Greek Film Festival), and Lovely Day (Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival), Panofsky’s Complaint (winner of Best Score in ‘Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood’). During the summer of 2012, he participated in the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop with Richard Bellis (It), which culminated with the recording of his music on the legendary 20th Century Fox Scoring Stage. Also during that summer, Oppido provided additional orchestrations and music preparation for the Tom Hanks-starring film, Cloud Atlas. He has also orchestrated on film and TV shows such as Agents of ShieldBlack SailsTimelessGuardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 and Under the Silver Lake. In addition to composing and conducting, Oppido worked as a music copyist and proofreader in Los Angeles, CA, working on such projects as Star Wars VII: The Force AwakensThe Book Thief, both the 2013 and 2014 Academy AwardsFamily Guy, and The Simpsons.



“The best part for me is experiencing a young composer’s musical growth throughout the workshop,” explained Mr. Oppido, who used to teach Music Composition classes for teens at Mason Community Arts Academy (formerly Potomac Arts Academy) several years ago while completing his own studies at Mason.

Highlights of the program for young composers and film enthusiasts include:

  • Discovery of new musical ideas
  • Insight into the many facets of the film scoring industry (composer, orchestrator, music copyist, assistant, intern, etc)
  • The opportunity to rescore a scene and receive feedback
  • Exposure to classical repertoire and film scores perhaps not known by a young composer
  • An opportunity to dissect how your favorite composers have scored your favorite films

If you are a high school student with strong musical experience/ background – especially those who have taken our Music Composition Explorations Workshop before – and a love for movies, this program is for you! Get a taste of Hollywood this summer at “The Art of Filmscoring”.