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Brown Film Magazine sparks conversations about film theory on campus

Student group publishes semesterly issue, aims to expand campus film scene

Formed about a year and a half ago, Brown Film Magazine is one of the youngest student-run publications on campus. BFM currently publishes weekly online content and a semesterly digital magazine, with articles ranging from film reviews and deep dives into directors to examinations of film theory. 

In starting the publication, Editors-in-Chief Will Havens ’25 and Dillon Sheekey ’25 sought to add something new to Brown’s already robust film scene, which includes groups like Brown Motion Pictures and the Ivy Film Festival.

“Brown has so many amazing publications but none of them were filtered through the lens of entertainment and film,” Sheekey said. 

Building on the University’s “thriving” film community and the theory track of the Modern Culture and Media concentration, Sheekey added that BFM aims to provide students a “space where people who are interested in journalism and interested in film can combine those interests.”

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“We saw BMP as the club extension of the production track, but there were so many students that were interested in theory — part of it was just giving them a space,” Havens said. 

BFM is currently comprised of about 20 staff writers, nine designers and five editors, according to Sheekey.

Building the magazine’s staff from scratch was “hectic at first,” Havens said.  But eventually, all of the necessary systems and structures began to fall into place.

“It takes a while to build your core community and group of people,” Sheekey added.

Staff Editor Mayrav Estrin ’25, who joined BFM last semester, sees the publication as a continuation of the work they have already been doing for years. “I have my own film blog and I’ve had that since I was a junior in high school,” Estrin said. “I usually write about movies that I like that just made me think deeper.”

The last piece Estrin published for BFM focused on the 2006 film “Little Miss Sunshine” and its exploration of the winner-loser effect, which Estrin said remains relevant “even though that movie is more than ten years old.”

Last semester, Estrin also wrote about her experience attending the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. While her participation in the program occurred independently of BFM, she was able to bring some thoughts on the event back to the magazine. 

In the future, Havens said that he would like to try to acquire free passes to local film festivals so that other writers have the chance to publish their experiences attending such events. To further diversify the content of the magazine, he added that he also “wants to push more interviews this year.”

Being a relatively new student organization, BFM still lacks the funding to produce a print edition of its semesterly issue, which is one of the publication’s main goals. According to Havens, this can pose challenges to keeping the club’s members engaged, as “people really like to have something physical that they can show off that they worked on.”

Nonetheless, Sheekey pointed out that the magazine still shares a lot in common with print publications. “Even if we don’t have print yet, just making a publication that resembles a print one, and putting it out there on our website keeps that dream alive — and allows … designers to create really cool spreads,” he said.

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Publishing solely in a digital format also makes the magazine available to a wide readership — “it’s so accessible — anyone can read it,” Estrin said.  

The submission deadline for BFM’s fall 2023 semesterly issue is Oct. 29, with a tentative publication date in early December. 

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Rya Vallabhaneni

Rya is an arts & culture section editor from Albany, NY. She is a junior studying English and Literary Arts, and her favorite TV show is Breaking Bad.



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