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Fairy tales are woven around nuggets of wisdom or truth. When Christina Bryant crafted a fairy tale during her senior year at Ithaca College, she folded in themes that explore her own revelations in life.
Jemila’s Tale is a 10-minute short that Christina wrote, directed, and edited as her senior thesis in the cinema and photography program. It’s about a 6-year-old girl who creates her own fairy tales after her local library runs out of the genre, and it explores themes of identity and ethnic representation through Jemila’s imagination.
“I was inspired to write the short after I'd finished a documentary about black Barbie dolls,” Christina says. “I thought about what it would look like if a young black [girl] created her own images of herself in places she felt excluded, like fairy tales for example.”
Those projects came together after Christina hit her stride as a film student, which she says happened during her last two years at IC. “Once you know the films you want to make, or you know you want to work with a camera, or you want to write, or do production design, your path becomes clear,” Christina says.
Jemila’s Tale was shown in three different film festivals after Christina graduated. She also took a two-month fellowship in North Carolina, followed by volunteer work at several other film festivals, including Sundance and SXSW. Her natural drive meshed well with her IC experience.
“Over the semesters, I actually began to crave a busy schedule because it brought out my best creative work,” Christina says. “Why not take non-major classes like African American Popular Music and Sociology of Sexualities, co-lead a non-profit video project with my fellow Park Scholars, paint a shed during a weekend Habitat for Humanity Build, and find local actors to be extras for a web series about Finger Lakes wine?”
Though she’s left IC, she thinks that work ethic is especially important to her budding film career. “By wearing different hats as a screenwriter, producer, set designer, social media guru, even holding a heavy light or two, I am still just as committed to the larger mission at hand: to tell a good story using film,” Christina says.
“That's how real life is. You have to find your passion in everything, no matter how small.”
>> More on this story: Park Scholars Program
Original photo of Christina and her young actress by Allie Taylor '11, producer of Jemila's Tale.
Allyce Barron had a problem when it came to deciding how to approach her future. “Since high school I had been torn between music and neuroscience. I actually applied to schools for both, so I could determine what I wanted to do.” Lucky for Allyce, she found she could do both at Ithaca College.
As a music education major, Allyce created a course in music cognition that allowed her to research how children learn in the classroom. “My independent study research was specifically about chunking and immersion learning. Do students learn a song better in pieces or when they are immersed into it all at once?”
With the help of a professor in the music theory department, Allyce experimented with teaching her 10-and 11-year old students songs using the chunking and immersion teaching strategies. She found that the students learned the song better if they were immersed in the entire piece repeatedly. “It was a surprising finding. All of the students felt initial frustration with the immersion, but figured out how to adapt to learn the piece.”
Allyce is now in grad school at Harvard, where she is studying the relationship the brain has with learning, especially in classroom settings. Looking back, she relishes the opportunity she had at Ithaca. “The rigor of the music education program is profound. It’s amazing that undergraduate students can take so much ownership in their learning. Thanks to Ithaca College, I feel ready to change the way students learn.”
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