Concepts of Media Production I is one of my favorite classes this semester. We've learned a lot of interesting things—from camera operation, to lighting techniques, editing, and more!
Amber: "What makes Luther an ideal place to study communications, as opposed to a larger state university?"
Thomas: "I think there's two things we can point to, regarding the benefits of studying communication studies at Luther College. One, is just the relationships that are built between faculty and students, both in and out of the classroom—whether we're thinking about during a discussion, during class, or to meet and talk about a paper outside of class. Along with that, everyone in our department is very much scholarship driven. They are active in their field, and we're all doing quite interesting things: whether it's Kim (Powell) and Derek (Sweet)'s stuff that they do on rhetoric, or Sarah (Wilder)'s stuff that she does on interpersonal communication, or my stuff that's critical media studies—media production oriented. We're active scholars, but we're also super invested in our students."
Amber: "Would you recommend Concepts of Media Production I or II to any students in particular, especially for those prospective (or current) students that may be thinking about what classes to take in the future?"
Thomas: "Any student who is interested in television or film—likes watching it, likes thinking about it—is a great candidate to take my Concepts of Media Production I class and also a great candidate to take my Concepts of Media Production II class, which is focused on documentary film. What I often find is those students who really get into it in Concepts I end up taking my Concepts II class. From that, we've had some really outstanding short subject documentary films produced over the years, ranging from a poetic film looking at the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks to a piece on public arts funding."
Amber: "What do you hope students take away from any of your classes, that they remember for years to come?"
Thomas: "I think the number one goal of both critical media studies and media production is to create people who are going to be media literate and who are going to consume media with a critical eye, and not just take those messages for granted and see them as being the norm—but instead thinking about who is sending that message, what might the intent be, what do representations of gender, race, class, ethnicity look like and why might that matter in the broader scheme of how we work through the world."
Amber: "What is your favorite part of Concepts of Media Production I? What makes you excited to teach it?"
Thomas: "My favorite part of teaching Concepts of Media Production I is seeing students take many of the aesthetic and technical things that we talk about and put them into practice in their projects. Just to see them start to utilize the technology and the vernacular in ways that they weren't even thinking about from day one—to see that growth is my favorite part."
Amber: "OK, here's a fun one...what’s your favorite television show?"
Thomas: "My favorite television show is HBO's The Wire."
Thanks to Thomas C. Johnson for agreeing to sit down and chat with me! Check out Concepts of Media Production I (or II) if you're looking for a fun, hands-on class to take in the future! You'll definitely learn a lot, and you don't even have to be a communication studies major.
Leave a comment on this post if you have any more questions, or feel free to email Thomas, too. Professors aren't as scary and intimidating as some movies make them out to be! ;) Thomas is super knowledgeable and active in his field, an awesome prof, and just a cool guy in general.