Arts & Entertainment
Scroll through the blog posts and stories below to learn more about Hamilton student and alumni experiences in this industry. Finally, meet with your career advisor and explore the Career Center curriculum to learn how to network with alumni to discuss your interests and learn more about their work.
Arts & Entertainment Blog
Discovering a Passion for Cinema Studies
By Andrew Horton '66
January 17, 2023
Tags Arts & Entertainment
Well, folks, I wish to simply say that Hamilton College was “guilty” in setting me up for a lifetime career of teaching, screenwriting, filmmaking, enjoying comedy on all levels, and embracing both local and global experiences around the world.
I was at Hamilton in the 60s, with no film or media studies classes available. However, Hamilton offered all I needed and prepared me for taking on a cinematic focus later.
I’ll start with the pleasure of choosing Hamilton and its lovely, peaceful location and environment. I spent my high school years in Amherst, Mass., a fine “college town.” It was the Sunday afternoon “foreign film series” at Amherst College that grabbed my attention and inspired my love of films from France, Italy, Sweden, and beyond, which were so engaging and different from Hollywood films!
I had a high school history teacher who was very familiar with Hamilton and encouraged me to apply. I did, and fell in love with the campus and Clinton because it reminded me of my roots from small town Virginia where my grandparents lived and where I spent most of my summers growing up.
From the beginning of my Hamilton career, I enjoyed the diversity of courses, faculty who reached out to students individually as well as in the classroom, and the solid friendships made with my classmates.
In that spirit, I became an English major. I learned from professors such as Austin Briggs, who taught me how to read and write effectively. I also learned to appreciate and analyze literature on a variety of levels, including culturally and historically. These skills became crucial for studying and creating films after my Hamilton years.
The international dimensions at Hamilton were also important for me since my family had spent three years of my childhood in England due to my father’s service in the Air Force. As I approached graduation in 1966, a key influence became my Greek roommate, Dimitrios Lappas, who suggested I apply to teach English in Athens, Greece at Athens College, the boarding school he had attended. I applied and was accepted, and spent the next two years teaching in Athens. This experience was very important to me as I discovered that I loved teaching and the culture and history of Greece.
Building on those two years in Greece, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in literature at Colgate University and then a Ph.D. in comparative literature at the University of Illinois, which also offered some film and literature classes.
Hamilton set me up with many of the writing and analysis skills I needed to take teaching to the college/university level and instilled the pleasure of writing books related to film and literature studies.
Over the past 50 years, I have taught cinema, literature, and screenwriting at universities including Deree College, Greece, Brooklyn College, Loyola University, the University of New Orleans, and for over twenty years as the endowed professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of Oklahoma.
Put more simply, Hamilton helped me appreciate a diverse range of interests and possibilities and to feel confident to make changes and not fear following unexpected pathways!
Throughout my career, I would not only work on award-winning films, but I would also write a script, Dark Side of the Sun (1986), and help the director and producers find and hire Brad Pitt as the lead actor in his first feature film!
Again, it was Hamilton that helped me realize “there ain’t no one way” and to enjoy following new paths that grabbed my interest.
I would also add how important it is to maintain friendships made during Hamilton days. In that spirit, it was a joyful adventure to organize with Hamilton classmate Curt Brand a two-week tour of Greece in 2017 for mostly Hamilton alumni and wives!
So, dear Hamilton students, do feel free to reach out if I can help in any way related to cinematic directions you may desire, from how to get internships in the business, advice on scripts, approaches for production, and beyond! Hamilton helped me catch on to Socrates’ pitch: “The unexamined life is not worth living!” During my years living in New Orleans, I heard these wise words from an elderly Old New Orleans street musician say, “Whatever you is, be that!”
My footnote in closing is the recent success of one of my former students, Sterlin Harjo, in screenwriting and film studies at The University of Oklahoma. He is Native American and I encouraged him to follow through with some of his Native stories rather than writing Hollywood-styled blockbuster films. He was particularly influenced by one of my study tours to Greece and his introduction to New Zealand cinema and connection with award-winning Maori filmmaker Taika Waititi. The result was them teaming together to create the popular and award winning HULU series Reservation Dogs, which takes a comic look at four Native American teenagers on an Oklahoma reservation who want to get out of Oklahoma!