Masa Israel Teaching Fellowship

Masa Israel Teaching Fellowship

Me with a camel on my recent trip to Israel in December 2016 with Birthright Israel group Shorashim #Bus636. Photograph taken by my lovely friend Jessica Gallagher-Steuver.

I'm moving to Israel for the year!

I was accepted into the Masa Israel Teaching Fellowship program (MITF) to teach ESL to children in Israel for the 2017-2018 school year! This program is in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Education and The Jewish Agency for Israel, a once in a lifetime opportunity to immerse myself in Israel’s culture while also gaining teaching experience overseas, learning Hebrew, and learning about my Jewish heritage.

My lovely friend Jessica Gallagher-Steuver and myself in Jerusalem's Shuk Machane Yehuda, December 2016.

When I returned from Israel after my December Birthright trip, I immediately started looking for (heavily subsidized) ways to get back overseas. The Masa Israel programs were recommended to me and I happened to receive two recruitment emails from their program coordinators. I figured it was a sign; with graduate school acceptance letters out and my future up in the air, I didn’t know what to do. However, I wanted to do something – so, I decided to apply to the MITF program and see what would happen.

After my first two PhD rejection letters arrived on the same day – Valentine’s Day – I figured that was it for graduate school, and so pushed for my Israel fellowship application acceptance.

Then, the Masters acceptance letters rolled in, and last month I signed and submitted my letter of intent for Syracuse, paid the deposit, and setup my Syracuse email account. Fifteen minutes later, my Masa Israel acceptance letter popped into my inbox. My goodness, what a glorious day...

Through a grant gifted by the Government of Israel, this ten-month program will cost around $1,000 (more or less), and also pays a teaching stipend. I’ll be living in the sought-after community of Rishon LeZion (Rishon LeTsiyon) in Tel Aviv, near both the water and Old Jaffa, where I'll have the opportunity to further explore the artist district!

The view from my room at Deborah Hotel in Tel-Aviv from my recent trip in December, 2016.

After much planning, I'm officially deferring my Syracuse University Arts Journalism Masters program for a year, as I will soon age out of this teaching fellowship opportunity in Israel. Ultimately, I'd like to be in Israel looking forward to school and my new life in New York thereafter. I'm incredibly excited to have both opportunities, and to have my next two years laid out. Honestly, it still hasn't sunk-in yet...

In fact, just two days after my return from Israel, I'll be at the Syracuse Masters program Orientation! Haha, this means some overseas apartment-hunting with the help of my mom, who will also transport my pre-packed belongings to my new place before I return, so I don't have to scramble and pass-out from jet lag. This also gives me more time to look into housing locations for Syracuse, and possibly more grants and scholarships for next year’s academics, too! This is truly when my efficiency and strategic mind have a chance to shine, haha.

Last year I learned to stop over-thinking things - just dive in and DO THEM. The results have clearly been amazing! I feel like, for once, things are working for me. (Yes, I really said 'for once,' don't let internet and social media fool you.)

Well wish me luck on my journey! I'm sure loads of new art and collaborations will follow, haha.

- The Girl Mirage

I'm Going to Syracuse University!

I'm Going to Syracuse University!

"Surprise, I'm going to Syracuse University! I was accepted into a one-year Masters program in Arts Journalism at S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, rated the top journalism school in the country!"

Surprise, I'm going to Syracuse University! I was accepted into a Masters program in Arts Journalism at S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, top journalism school in the country!

Back in late August 2016, I decided I wanted to do something more with my life - immediately - and so I started to research artist residencies. When I realized that you still have to pay for these opportunities, I thought 'why bother, I could just go travel somewhere, myself.' Through some Googling and a website called Profellow, I stumbled upon the concept of MA/PhD programs. Four days later, I made the decision to go to graduate school.

"I'm so excited to get my Masters in Arts Journalism at Syracuse University Newhouse School! I clearly went overboard on the branded swag - but totally worth it!"

I decided I'd apply to both MA/PhD programs and Masters programs for 'back-up.' With all the time and effort I put into my work, portfolio, and accumulated accolades over the last few years, I knew I'd get into any Masters program to which I applied, so figured I'd try for the PhD, haha. MA/PhD programs are fully funded anywhere from 4-7 years, and this gave me a huge sense of relief, as it seems finances were the foundation of my initial research. I would love to teach at the university level in the future, and knew if I'd like to teach in five years, I needed to start this process now. So naturally I chose a bunch of Ivy League schools because why not.

I studied for two weeks and took the GRE the first time in early October, then again in November. Contrary to your typical social media 'college-application-process-endless-complaint' posts, it was quick and simple, and felt like an easier version of the SATs - don't go overboard on the freak-outs.

In this time, I also learned that my undergrad, Massachusetts College of Art & Design, doesn’t give GPAs due to their dual-grading system. For applications, I manually calculated my GPA - and found I had a 3.78! After talking with some people over at MassArt, they said I "basically graduated Cum Laude," and titles tend to make everyone feel pretty good.

Come February of this year, I learned I hadn't been accepted into any PhD programs, but was indeed accepted into all the Masters programs to which I applied – UChicago, Pratt, NYU, and Syracuse. However, all of these programs have different tracks: UChicago is a one-year PhD-level program; Pratt is a two-year academic-focused Media Arts program; NYU is a two-year Masters in Media, Culture, and Communications; Syracuse is a one-year professional program in Arts Journalism. Initially, I planned these Masters programs to be a 'stepping stone' on my way to a PhD. However, when the acceptance (and decline) letters started rolling in, I reevaluated what I truly wanted in life.

After contemplation, I realized that I'd been dazzled by the PhD programs due to both the prestige and the financial relief, and had been rationalizing my desires throughout this two-month application process. I pictured how other people would look at me and respond to me based on the phrase "I'm getting my PhD," and it was a very extroverted way of looking at my future – through the perceptions and eyes of others, rather than through my own eyes and self-evaluation. What's more, I'd be moving from financial dependence on one source at home straight to financial dependence on another source – an institution. And, still, after receiving a PhD, there is no guarantee of immediate work, and I'd be in my early/mid 30s.

This was a big step for me, to not only ground myself and live in the moment as opposed to a fictional future image, but to overcome a fear of spending money based on an uncertain future. By letting a fear dictate my future, I wouldn't be living for myself, nor would I live up to my potential. I realized that, by trying to get away from something, I would never get where I wanted to be – stable and successful.

I made a pros and cons list between PhD programs and Masters programs to help determine which Masters track to take, and it really helped me see through my own eyes for a change. The list of pros for Masters programs heavily outweighed those of a PhD program for me at this point in my life, and the cons were minimal. Plus, ever since I received my acceptance from Syracuse I kept talking about how awesome their program is, so it seemed I’d already made my decision.

Goldring Arts Journalism Director Eric Grode welcoming accepted student Geena Matuson to the Masters Preview Day at Syracuse University's S. I. Newhouse School for Public Communications, March 2017.

I also became aware that I'd been unconsciously making things in my life and work orange and blue over the last two months, which fully hit me when I attended the Newhouse Masters Program accepted students 'Preview Day.' In the back of my mind, my mind was trying to tell me something, haha.

I am beyond ecstatic with my decision to attend Syracuse, and I can’t wait to start this program. I could have the opportunity to be an Instructional Assistant for another class, plus internships! We travel together throughout the year to amazing festivals including Toronto International Film Festival and Spoleto Festival as part of the capstone project.

Syracuse, too, is the only program that sent me a physical hard-copy acceptance letter in the mail, and is the only program that had setup an online 'accepted students' group for networking and guidance between incoming and graduating students. It’s really a community-based school, and I am so happy to be part of it!

I decided to pepper the post with some orange with photos from my recent trip to the school for accepted students! I bought nine Syracuse shirts, a mug and some pens, so I'm clearly prepared for the future.

Here's a fabulous photo of me with the Goldring Arts Journalism Program Director Eric Grode! This was taken on the March 'Preview Day' for accepted students in Newhouse Master's Programs, and it was such a great time. Everyone is incredibly nice and talented, and I can't wait to be part of it. (Plus, there's this place where they make ice cream cookie sandwiches until 3am - and they deliver. I'm just sayin'.)

I'm sharing this personal story because I know a lot of thought goes into such big decisions, and it may resonate with some prospective students to any institution. The application process itself was easier for me than the internal steps I took to understand my own path. If you read this far, please feel free to reach out and say hi! I'd love to hear stories replete with personal steps and what truly led you to new places.

- The Girl Mirage

Raising The Bar

Raising The Bar

Chris Fisher, Jamaal Eversley and Samantha Webb prepare for slates with help of Grip/Electric Dan Perez de la Garza in Geena Matuson's short 'Depends,' 2017.

It's official - our #Fauxmercials 'Bar Ads' are now online! If you've been following my blog posts, you've seen some raw screenshots from our bar ads starting with Gillette spoof 'The Best A Man Can Get' followed by our new 'Depends' short featuring a classic 80s slow-motion walk sequence.

This project was originally a professional portfolio component, new work with higher production value to showcase my creative direction, production and writing skills, along with my commentary on societal standards and politics through comedic storytelling and relationships.

On a personal level, I didn't want to be one of those people who goes to school and majors in a skills-based area but ceases to create new work in the field post-graduation. While I have moved into design work, an interest from childhood, I will continue to enhance my film portfolio, forever growing as an artist and writer, meeting new people and completing those lists of 'new ideas' we all accumulate over time. This new series is a large step in the quality of my work, from pre-production through filming and into post-production.

If that build-up piqued your interested (and, even if it didn't) you can see the final videos online, available on both Vimeo and YouTube!

Part of series Fauxmercials, 'The Best A Man Can Get' was filmed with the generous help and location support from Rock 'n' Roll Rib Joint in Medfield, MA.

Casey William Hines and Andrew Morais in 'The Best A Man Can Get,' 2017.

The Best A Man Can Get

Writer, Director, Producer & Marketing: Geena Matuson
Featuring: Andrew Morais, Casey William Hines
Voice-Over: Kevin Lowney
Background: Chris Fisher, Samantha Webb, Jamaal Eversley, Paul DeLuca
Director of Photography: Denez McAdoo
Second Camera: Dylan Kiely
Audio (Set): Djim Reynolds
Electric, Grip/Gaffer: Dan Perez de la Garza
Assistant Grip/Gaffer: Andrew Frechette
Assistant Director: Adrian Atwood
Production Assistance: Sally Muiruri
Post-Production & Sound Design: Geena Matuson

Part of series Fauxmercials, 'The Best A Man Can Get' was filmed with the generous help and location support from Rock 'n' Roll Rib Joint in Medfield, MA.

Chris Fisher, Jamaal Eversley and Samantha Webb in Geena Matuson's short 'Depends,' 2017.

Depends

Writer, Director, Producer & Marketing: Geena Matuson
Featuring: Jamaal Eversley, Christopher Scott (Chris Fisher), Samantha Webb
Voice-Over: Kevin Lowney
Director of Photography: Denez McAdoo
Second Camera: Dylan Kiely
Audio (Set): Djim Reynolds
Electric, Grip/Gaffer: Dan Perez de la Garza
Assistant Grip/Gaffer: Andrew Frechette
Assistant Director: Adrian Atwood
Production Assistance: Sally Muiruri
Music: Matt Costanza
Post-Production & Sound Design: Geena Matuson

I launched into pre-production in June 2016, and around late August - just two weeks before filming - I decided to apply to graduate school. (No, you didn't miss anything - I've kept my grad school endeavors a secret.) While this series is still a huge part of my new portfolio, my goals certainly shifted.

To continue promoting my work in film and share the talents of the cast and crew, I've so far entered these micro-shorts into 40 festivals through the submission site FilmFreeway, and anticipate some good news throughout this summer and autumn. A note to you filmmakers who may not have considered this - micro-shorts and short films under two minutes in length usually qualify for free entry or less costly submission rates. If you have some micro-shorts up your sleeve, go for it and submit!

While I still have more Fauxmercials scripts up my sleeve, I'll have to save something for the future! We're moving into production for the final film in this series while also editing footage from our 'beach ads.' The outtakes will make a great video in itself, plus a new director's reel and various off-shoot videos from additional footage will keep me, and my growing portfolio, going strong...

- The Girl Mirage


Yes! No...Maybe? Depends.

Yes! No...Maybe? Depends.

Chris Fisher, Jamaal Eversley and Samantha Webb in Geena Matuson's short 'Depends,' filmed at Rock 'n' Roll Rib Joint in Medfield, MA. Cinematography by Denez McAdoo.

So much expression in so little time! The short spoof 'Depends' features the range of acting (and facial expression) talents of Chris Fisher, Jamaal Eversley, and Samantha Webb, part of my ongoing 'Fauxmercials' series.

This was an incredibly fun shoot, and still more fun to edit. Watching these actors is hilarious, and it makes picking the perfect take all the more difficult. So, I put together a few Instagram videos and, rest assured, there will most definitely be an outtakes reel.

We did this super 80s, sexy-lady-enters-bar tracking shot that had the perfect lighting, and I just can't get enough of it. We have our DP Denez McAdoo and Assistant Assistant Camera Dylan Kiely to thank for the beautiful footage, and Gaffer Dan Perez de la Garza and Assistant Gaffer Andrew Frechette to thank for the perfect lighting setup. And who doesn't like to watch a woman walk into a bar in slow motion, amiright?

I've synced audio thanks to Djim Reynolds, and attached some great electric guitar music thanks to Matt Costanza. Color grading nearly complete, the video will be completed before April, as several beach-themed #Fauxmercials still need to roll out in time for summer. Keep watching for more behind-the-scenes looks and screenshots from my new series!

- The Girl Mirage


8 Kick A** Female Directors

8 Kick A** Female Directors

Happy International Womens Day! My friend Maddie over at +MoviePass asked me to write about a favorite female director for this article, take a look to find out which one I picked!

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For the first time in MoviePass Blog history, we have reached out to film students to write a collaborative piece for Women’s History Month. We thought that a great way to have a conversation about women in film is to discuss the topic with future women in film: our soon-to-be directors, historians, actresses, producers, etc. We asked these women to talk about their favorite female filmmakers...