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Analyzing the Big Screen


Involved in clubs and organizations like The Duel Observer and WHCL, Graham Paull ’20 is used to throwing himself into creative endeavors. Now working on an Emerson project, he expects to direct his passion toward film.

Paull describes his research project as “fun, inventive, illuminatory, zany,” though those words could also be applied to Paull himself. His project, which focuses on film technology and its impact on individuals, institutions, and social functions, aims to analyze viewing cultures throughout a technological cinematic history.

Paull’s research will be a mix of reading film literature on technological developments and their impacts and watching films themselves. He hopes to screen a movie for himself every other day and start a summer screening series for everyone working on campus over the summer. He’s working with adviser Professor of Art History Scott MacDonald, who runs the F.I.L.M series on campus during the academic year.                                   

 about Graham Paull ’20

Majors: Creative writing and cinema media studies

Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.

High School: La Canada High School

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Simply put, Paull intends “to become knowledgeable” about the influence of technology on film. He said, “I’m very interested in transformative processes where there’s technology involved where we get from point A to point B and there’s some fundamental change that happens along the way.”

His interest in pursuing this research project primarily stems from a greater curiosity about film history and its relationship with social movement. Through taking a historical, technical approach to film, he ultimately plans on exposing the ways in which film evolves with the times.

Paull said the project will partially focus on “technological determinism,” the notion that technology impacts society rather than society controlling technology. This approach will further enable him to consider the influences of technological advancements on cinema culture.

A cinema and media studies and creative writing double major, Paull noted that he first became especially interested in movies during middle school. He highlighted a point when he had moved houses and was left without Internet during the transition. During this time, he would make a 10-minute walk to Blockbuster and rent movies to watch throughout the day, engrossing himself in the world of film. Further delving into the past, Paull also mentioned that he used the Netflix mail service.

Paull stressed the importance of expanding one’s movie base. In addition to citing it as a goal of his own project, he advised that everyone explore films of varying genres. He said that he wants the assorted films he views and the research he conducts to help both himself and others understand more about movies. “Broaden your horizons. I’ll keep mine broad. Maybe.”

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