2020, Film and Video Studies
Hannah Harmison arrived at Mason excited to expand her longtime passion of screenwriting. She has been on the set of films throughout her fours year as an undergraduate – from writing and producing her own film set to be released this spring, to undertaking an independent study through OSCAR – Harmison is so thankful for all the times she said yes to chasing new experiences.
“Take that chance! Do not for one second think you’re not smart enough or not a good fit or you should wait until you have more experience or anything else!”
Harmison, a Film and Video studies senior with a concentration in Screenwriting, has actively sought out opportunities to help fulfill her passion in screenwriting. However, she hadn’t always realized the impact her work could have on her community. For Harmison, using her platform to promote equality is at the heart of many of her projects.
“My OSCAR project was the production of three episodes of a children’s web series designed to improve gender diversity in children’s media,” she said. “The series, 25 Dandelion Drive, features characters that are cisgender, transgender, non-binary, and genderfluid working together to solve everyday problems a preschooler might encounter.”
For Harmison, equality is a cornerstone of everything she does. “I have a responsibility to my audience and my peers to showcase positive, inclusive, progressive ideas, that if taken to heart and put into action, could improve the world around us.”
“The most important lesson I’ve learned at Mason is that everyone works hard! Hard work alone is not enough to succeed; if you want to succeed in your career, you must also cultivate a network of reliable and supportive people, protect your passion from burnout, and believe despite the odds that you can succeed.”
— Hannah Harmison, Honors College graduating senior, Film and Video Studies major, and recipient of the 2020 Film at Mason Excellence Award
Many assume that scholarly research only appears in the form of a strict research paper, however, our multidisciplinary Honors community advocates for multiplatform research across disciplines.
“The Honors College core courses were more interesting, fun, and thought-provoking than other courses. The professors are truly committed to success and what that looks like for each of us.”
Honors courses also taught her skills she was able to apply to her film sets. Through courses such as Professor Woolsey's Dystopian Literature and Professor West's Visual Theory, she was able to adapt new concepts of story development.
“Who are these characters, what is this world, and what are they saying together about the world that we currently live in? What do I want them to say?” she learned. “How can I show that visually? How can a visual alone convey big ideas, why does it work, and who will it work for?”
Her creativity, however, extends way beyond the walls of a classroom. In addition to writing and producing her OSCAR project, Harmison had the opportunity to see her work come to life thanks to a surprise email from someone looking to shoot her work with a 360°-degree camera. The film gives viewers a look at the world from the perspective of Evie, a transgender teenage girl, on her walk to school as she realizes the power she has over her own life. Titled "Evie’s Eyes," the project is slated for release this spring.
“This film has been an uphill battle from the beginning, and every single person involved should feel proud of the contributions they made to it. I am grateful for the time and effort that the whole cast and crew put into it. I feel like this project has defined a lot of who I am trying to be, professionally and personally.
Off set, Harmison has had the opportunity to be a four-year member of Delta Kappa Alpha (DKA), Mason’s Professional Cinematic Arts Fraternity since her freshman year. The organization has given her both an extensive network of young film professionals, and valuable experiences in leadership. She has had the opportunity to serve as their Secretary, Showrunner, and part of the Risk Management team.
Even though social distancing measures have stopped most, if not all, in-person productions – Harmison has not let that slow her down.
“From inside my apartment, I hopped on a film project with a friend of mine from London who was gathering writers he knows from all over the world to develop an anthological web-series that could be shot inside our homes,” she said. “I wrote an episode for him, and I've loved getting to know the other writers because they're of all ages and all stages in their careers.”
To end her time at Mason, she was recently named the recipient of the 2020 Film at Mason Academic Excellence Award as the graduating Film student with the highest GPA.