Professor & Chairperson, Department of Electronic Media & Film
For three days each spring, Towson University is abuzz with guest artists, masterclasses and screenings of films by various filmmakers portraying different points of view.
It’s all part of WAMMFest (Women And Minorities in Media Festival), which, according to festival director Elsa Lankford, offers unique opportunities for TU students.
“WAMMFest lets our students watch or get behind-the-scenes experience at an internationally recognized film festival,” says the associate professor. “Right on campus.”
Lankford, an interdisciplinary artist and composer, co-founded the festival in 2008 to celebrate and encourage diversity in the Department of Electronic Media and Film (EMF). Now in its 10th year, WAMMFest has become extremely competitive, drawing more than 1,000 entries from around the world, and volunteers and judges from all over campus and the region.
To maximize student engagement, Lankford developed an interdisciplinary class attached to WAMMFest in which participants work as a team to help plan and manage the festival. Another course focuses on judging and programming.
“I try to get as many students involved as possible,” says Lankford, who also facilitates discussion sessions and networking opportunities with the filmmakers. “It’s just the sort of practical experience they need to be ready to move their work to the next level.”
Lankford stresses diversity, practicality and interdisciplinary learning in her WAMMFest courses and everything she teaches. An audio specialist, she’s proud that TU’s EMF major offers an audio concentration, which includes audio production, post-production and sound for video classes. Students prepare for careers in audio and radio with recording and mixing in studios and on film sets through hands-on experience in state-of-the-art facilities.
“TU’s combination of big-school resources and small-school student focus enables the EMF department to make these distinctive learning experiences available,” says Lankford.
“We offer students a lot of opportunities that other programs do not.”