When George Mason University junior Logan McKennah Brown talks about making films, she brings up the first class she took in the Film and Video Studies (FAVS) Program.
“In our very first class, the director, Giovanna Chesler, told us to look around the room. She said, ‘You need to get to know these people. Film is about collaboration.’”
And that’s one of the things the Tallapoosa, Georgia, native likes about George Mason. “We are so willing to help each other—the entire department.”
Collaboration was also one of the things that drew FAVS major Meagan Arnold to Mason. “I toured a lot of different film schools, and this was one of the only ones that emphasized working with other students,” says Arnold, who comes from Stephens City, Virginia. “It is really hard to make a short film by yourself.”
Fortunately for Arnold, she doesn’t have to. In her freshman year, she, Brown, and fellow FAVS majors Jordon Jones and David Mason III formed their own production company. They called themselves the Freshman Four, which has since been shortened to F4 Productions as they are no longer freshmen.
They joke that they ended up together because they weren’t old enough to go to bars and were frequently left behind on the weekends. Out of boredom one night, hanging around the residence halls, they decide to “make something” and put together a short film that they all appeared in.
Soon Mason was designing a logo for them (literally on a napkin) and turning it into animation so they had an impressive intro for films—and they were on their way.
“Our intro is pretty legit,” says Brown. “People started taking us way more seriously.”
“Not everybody has that kind of kind of production value at the beginning of their short film,” says Mason, who is from Bristow, Virginia. “And it is people’s first impression of us. It helped us become more of a thing.”
This past year F4 Productions served as crew for a number of different thesis films, including senior Irem Dogancali’s “Pineapple” and a number of films chosen for the “Best of FAVS,” which travels to film festivals like Virginia Film Festival at the University of Virginia.
“When we do join productions, people ask us because we have a certain skill level, and we will help that production,” says Arnold.
“We quickly saw each other’s strong suits but are still branching out and figuring it out,” says Jones of her F4 Productions cohorts. And these strengths complement each other.
Jones is a great producer. Arnold is known for her cinematography. Mason has a talent for sound editing and post-production skills. And Brown can often be found looking through the lens and serving as director of photography on projects.
They also credit the Mason chapter of Delta Kappa Alpha, a national co-ed professional cinema fraternity, for helping them connect with other student filmmakers, both at Mason and other universities in the Washington, D.C., area. All the members of F4 Productions have held offices within DKA.
“All of this has come together to help us be who we are,” says Jones, who is from Mechanicsville, Virginia, and served as DKA president this past academic year. “We get this great experience here at Mason, and we are also connected with film students across the nation. It is a whole network of other film people.”