Internship Spotlight: Brandon Kaufman

My name is Brandon Kaufman and I am currently completing my Joint Honours degree in English (Cultural Studies) and History. My academic interests lie in film history and theory; my tentative thesis concerns the myriad European exiles who made up the New American Cinema of the 1960s. As an intern I assisted English professor Alanna Thain in researching her project on outdoor/mobile cinemas in Montreal and worldwide and the impacts of COVID-19 on their operations. Professor Thain is the director of McGill’s Moving Image Research Lab, which “probes the historical intersections between moving image media and changing bodily imaginaries in different historical and geographic situations.”

This experience afforded me the opportunity to use various methodologies and practices typically neglected by the humanities. The sort of empirical research methods so foundational to the sciences are relatively absent from undergraduate film studies. The “answers”—such that they exist—come from applying theory, “close reading,” etc. While I find this a more rewarding approach, the chance to use more traditional research methods was very appealing. To this end, I was tasked with complaining information on around a dozen outdoor or mobile film exhibitionists in Montreal and in Europe, South America, and Africa. These reports included histories, programming trends, physical set-up, and how the respective venues were affected by the outbreak of COVID-19.

There were many highlights throughout my time as an intern. Discovering the ways that cinema—often thought of as so static, so fixed in the time and place of its production—adapts and (quite literally) moves according to the ever-changing whims of the present was one revelation. Similarly, after focusing on Montreal’s many outdoor theatres, it was impossible not to draw the conclusion that the city is host to an impressive and vibrant film community. The last highlight also proved to be one of the challenges of the internship — this was the need to establish for myself a working schedule and build an overall structure by which I could work productively and efficiently.

This was a rather difficult process. I admittedly struggled with finding a workflow without the pressures and time constraints of a more formal academic setting. I finally achieved that by dedicating time in my day to sit at my desk, even if I knew I wasn’t going to be productive. This gave me a sense of routine and ultimately allowed me to complete all my tasks.

By way of a conclusion, I would like to thank Gregg Blachford and David McGillivray for their generosity in creating their Internship Award. The funds went a long way in helping with the necessities of being a student, and allowing me to even have all those hours for introspection and critical thinking in the first place.

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