administrative assistant for the Film Studies Department and Cinema
Archives, interacts with faculty and students on a daily basis.
Film, Cinema Admin Says Meeting Famous Directors, Actors is Part of the
Q: Lea, when did you begin working at Wesleyan
as the administrative assistant for Cinema Archives and the Film Studies
A: August 20, 2001, and this is the first department that I’ve worked in
Q: Where was your office located when you started, and what are your
thoughts on the new Center for Film Studies building?
A: My office was located in the Cinema Archives building when I first
started here. I was so lucky because the space was shared with Leith
Johnson, the co-curator, and Joan Miller, the archivist, who are two of the
nicest, most generous people I know. They were so helpful to a new employee
and have become such good friends in the process.
The new center is so airy and filled with light. Because our faculty and
staff were housed in several different places on campus before the new
center, having the offices and main areas integrated now means easy access
to students, faculty, and staff which makes a huge difference in the
Q: During your time here, have you had the opportunity to meet any famous
directors or actors?
A: Yes, when our building was dedicated, Martin Scorsese came and talked to
a full-house. Some of the other directors and actors that I’ve met or spoken
to include Jonathan Demme, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Isabella Rossellini,
Amy Irving, Joss Whedon, Brad Whitford, Joey Pantoliano, William Windom,
Lars Schmidt, Ed Herrmann, Debra Winger, Dana Delany, Joan Leslie, Albert
Berger and Isaac Mizrahi.
Q: Very exciting, and since Wesleyan’s film program has been nationally
recognized for more than four decades, it must be very rewarding to work for
A: I love working here. It’s a “hands-on” major which means there is a lot
of student, faculty and staff interaction. Each day is unique and presents
different challenges. Our chair, Jeanine Basinger, is internationally-known
in this field as one of the best film scholars in the world. She receives
requests for interviews from news organizations, NPR and television stations
on a regular basis. She also founded the Cinema Archives whose staff works
on a daily basis supporting the Film Studies Department. Our majors, faculty
and staff are extremely supportive of each other. The cooperative effort
between everyone makes this a great place to work.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you face on a daily basis?
A: I think the biggest challenge is to balance the priorities within the
department. Students come first for me then the other responsibilities seem
to fall into place. There are university deadlines that need to be met on a
weekly basis but most of the time there are a lot of different duties that
are happening simultaneously. We have a lot of outside requests to use our
new screening room and sometimes they overlap our classroom use of the
spaces. My job is really enjoyable—I like getting to meet and talk with
administrative assistants in other departments as well as the faculty and
staff who call to book spaces. The students are so passionate about what
they do that they keep my outlook on life optimistic.
Q: Are any two days alike there?
A: Most often, no two days are alike for me. There are regular duties such
as responding to student requests, booking spaces for events and classrooms,
financial responsibilities, answering general phone calls, shipping and
weekly payroll. We get lots of email questions about our major and events
that are happening in our building. I spend most of my time interacting with
students, the chair, our faculty and staff and other departments within the
We get lots of students stopping and asking questions about major
requirements, classes that are offered, booking of spaces for our required
production and senior thesis films and other things. Parents are interested
in jobs after graduation and they wonder how difficult is it for students to
be accepted to our program. We offer a tour of the building in conjunction
with the Admissions Office on Wednesdays at noon from the lobby of the
center; one of our film majors conducts this tour which gives details about
our building and the major.
Q: What can film majors expect from the Center for Film Studies?
A: The model of scholarship in the department is in the liberal arts
tradition of wedding history and theory with practice. All film majors study
the motion picture in a unified manner, combining historical, formal and
cultural analysis with filmmaking at beginning and advanced levels in 16mm
film, digital video, and virtual formats. A unique emphasis on the study of
the medium, its industry, aesthetics, and technology distinguishes Film
Studies courses from classes in other departments that approach film as a
cultural text. For more information, people can visit our Web site,
or call 860-685-2220.
Q: Briefly explain the purpose of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives and how do
students or outside researchers go about viewing these materials?
A: The Cinema Archives provides a home for Wesleyan’s growing collections
related to motion picture and television history. We care for and preserve
cinema-related paper materials, photographs, and memorabilia. The archives
are open from 9:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. by appointment only; Monday through
Friday. Anyone wanting to inquire about specific materials should schedule
an appointment by calling 860-685-3396 or e-mailing our co-curator Leith
email@example.com or our
archivist, Joan Miller at
Q: Where can the public see these items?
A: The Rick Nicita Gallery, located in the lobby of the Center for Film
Studies, houses different exhibits throughout the year. Right now the
gallery exhibit is: Frank’s Friends, The Capra Glamour Portraits. The
gallery is open from noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday and by
Q: Do you attend any of the film-related events on campus?
A: Occasionally I attend the film-related events. I have a rather long,
50-to-60 minute commute that discourages attendance to evening events after
working all day. I must say, though, that there are several times I’ve
really wished I lived closer because the event looked so good.
Q: When you’re not at Wesleyan, what do you enjoy doing?
A: I’m a knitting, weaving, sewing fanatic! My grandmother and mother taught
me these skills when I was 7-years-old. I even knit with needles that
belonged to them. I like to spend time with my family. My husband and I are
restoring a home built in 1769 where we live with our dog and cat. I have
two sons, a daughter-in-law, and a 2-year-old granddaughter and a grandson
who was born last week.
Q: But movies are not on your hobby-list?
A: I actually hate to admit this but I’m not a big film buff. I do, however,
have my favorites. I love suspense movies. My favorites are older movies
like “The Uninvited” with Ray Milland and “The Spiral Staircase.” I’m sure
the film majors will get a chuckle out of these choices.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection