Celluloid and Social Change – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Celluloid and Social Change

A love of film and social awareness is genetic for Katharine Collins ’09. Her grandmother was a film producer and distributor and her grandfather was a writer and producer. It comes as no surprise that Collins shares her family’s affinity for film. But she has her own particular niche in the silver screened world.

“My film watching experiences have grown as I have gotten older and studied it more,” Collins said. “My main focus now is on independent and low budget works.”

As a student-scholar, Collins is combining her passion for film with a scholarly interest in LGBT studies to explore the way that LBGT individuals are portrayed in films. Collins, an English major and LBGT studies minor, is so ardent that she’s spending the summer studying the history of LGBT films. “I am really interested in studying the social constructs of film and the people that different forms of film represent,” said Collins. “There are so many amazing films on LBGT people and their lives. Many of these films are independent or low budget so many people don’t know about them, and they are really worth seeing.”

For Collins, these films are not merely hidden indie gems but are a moving testament to the society in which they were produced and created. “I think that LBGT film is a unique form because it is still a very unfamiliar genre to a lot of people,” she said, adding that, “…it is a way of representing a group of people so that others can learn of their lives.”

With the help of Associate Professor of Women’s Studies Betty Bayer, Collins plans to expand her research by traveling to New York City, Ithaca and Rochester. “My ultimate goal is to increase my knowledge of the subject as much as possible and come up with as many of my own conclusions and theories about the genre and the genres within the genre as possible.”

Collins, who intends to work for a low-budget or independent production company after graduation, hopes that her research can be used to educate others about the LBGT community. “One point I would like to make is the vastness of the genre,” Collins explained, “how many films there are and what categories they fall into. Secondly, I would like to create a better awareness for the LBGT community.”