“Reel” World Scholar

By Kimberly Nagy, June 7, 2024
Ithaca College Faculty Member Phil Melanson Gives Students a Behind-the-Scenes Look at British Media and Culture

Phil Melanson

Photo by Jess Rose

Phil Melanson, a former movie marketer who has worked behind the scenes on Hollywood blockbuster films, loves sparking conversations about pop culture with his students at the Ithaca College London Center. His go-to question for them? “What did you watch last night?”

Answers vary from Netflix selections to West End stage productions, but Melanson’s primary goal is for students to broaden their understanding of British media during their semester in London. He encourages them to compare British television shows with the American counterparts, aiming to challenge their perceptions of British media and, by extension, British culture.

“It’s really fun to introduce students to TV shows they’ve never seen before,” Melanson notes, who has recently been recommending the British show Broadchurch. “Many students coming to England think it’s not so different from America. But there are many ways where it is culturally, fundamentally different.”

From LA to London: A Full-Circle Journey

Melanson, a self-professed “film school kid,” traded the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles for teaching and writing in literary London. Having experienced the inner workings of NBC Universal and Sony Pictures, and led marketing campaigns for Greta Gerwig’s Little Women and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the self-proclaimed “bookish expat” is also an author. His debut novel, The Figurehead—a queer historical novel set during the Renaissance—is slated for publication by W.W. Norton/ Liveright in Summer of 2025.

Teaching in London is a full-circle moment for Melanson, a New York University alumnus: “When I was an undergrad, my semester abroad in London was a really pivotal experience—clearly, because I ended up moving here a decade later.”

Upon joining the ICLC faculty, he wasn’t just attracted to Ithaca College’s reputation. He was eager to shape students during what he considers to be one of the most transformative periods of their undergraduate life: study abroad.

“I aim for my students to leave with confidence gained from an in-depth understanding of how the industry operates.”

Melanson praises his IC students, describing them as “bubbling with energy, always ready to challenge and question the information presented to them.” This dynamic creates a vibrant classroom environment that encourages critical thinking and analysis.

The savvy media professor always looks to set his students up for professional success. Not only does he ensure that they are familiar with industry jargon, but he also arranges for guest speakers and field trips to media offices like Netflix, giving his classes a thrilling sneak peek into the decision-making processes behind television programming.

“It’s crucial not only to understand how to analyze a TV show or comprehend how British television programming operates,” says Melanson, who equips students with practical employment knowledge. “I want my students to walk away from class with the confidence that comes from knowing how the industry truly operates.”

A Celebration 50 Years in the Making!

In 1972, the first group of adventurous Ithaca College students traveled to England. Today the Ithaca College London Center—among the longest-standing U.S.-based study abroad programs in London—continues to welcome students for a semester or summer of learning and exploration. Over the years, thousands of Ithaca College students, faculty, and staff have called the IC London Center “home,” while creating a special bond that now spans five decades.

We’re currently counting down the days until the IC London Center’s 50th anniversary reunion celebration, June 28–30, 2024! Along the way, we're chronicling some of our adventurers and trailblazers—students, alumni, and faculty who have found and guided transformation in IC’s signature study abroad program.