Communication & Cinema

Communication & Cinema Overview picture of McDaniel Students with a camera illustration


Whether face-to-face or mediated, Communication is the means by which individuals create their identity, interact with other people, and interpret the world around them. Communication is the nexus of all human endeavor and all other disciplines are dependent upon it. Communication professionals look at how individuals interact to create and interpret verbal, nonverbal and visual meaning.


Expertise in Communication is highly prized by employers of every kind because knowledge of communication helps us to:

  • create messages that inform, persuade, entertain and inspire;
  • be flexible in dealing with a wide variety of people in a wide range of contexts;
  • understand and work with people from diverse cultural backgrounds;
  • hone verbal and written skills

Our media studies enable students to:

  • Design messages for specific audiences;
  • understand the legal, historic, economic and cultural roles of mediated institutions;
  • interpret mediated messages of all kinds.

Our research program teaches how to

  • conduct a social science research study
  • find and interact with high quality information.



In the burgeoning field of Cinema, technology is transitory. Every year brings new high-tech edit systems and software. New video formats and film stocks flood the market, then vanish.

The only cinematic tools that don't become obsolete: The human brain and the human heart.

We've all seen Hollywood films with awesome stunts and special effects, great costumes and mega-star talent.

And weak, forgettable, stories and characters, devoid of passion, ingenuity, humanity.

The trend, from studio summer blockbusters to ambitious, hyper-technology-driven student films, is to spend increasing amounts of money on visual effects, the latest Steadicams, helicopter camera mounts, green screen technology, digital image manipulation and - the latest craze - 3-D.

And, increasingly, audiences and critics alike are bemoaning how fewer and fewer movies are worth the soaring ticket prices . When a big-budget movie is shot in 3-D, but the characters and story are only one-dimensional, something is seriously wrong.

Our goal, then: Solid stories, smartly told.

Cinema at McDaniel doesn't embrace the typical button-pushing, widget-obsessed approach to producing media. Instead, we emphasize mastery of three key liberal arts-based skills areas that have always lain at the core of great cinema:

A mastery of both the formatting and conceptual tools of strong storytelling.

Critical Studies
Understanding the broader world and context of cinema: Character, narrative development, drama, cinematic history and theory.

The ability to get a production completed, from casting through effective and dramatic shooting and editing.

All supplemented by teamwork, critical thinking, and creative problem solving.

We also believe that equipment and software should help you to produce -- not get in your way.

At McDaniel Cinema, we think students' production time is valuable, and should be spent shooting, editing, and creating powerful stories - not wrestling with unwieldy or overly-complex production equipment soon to become obsolete. Our students shoot on portable, easy-to-use cameras (mini-DV handycams), and edit on sophisticated, user-friendly digital non-linear edit systems (Final Cut Pro on iMac). Effective. Accessible. Such facilities allow our students to turn out professional-grade work.

With time left over to dream and to imagine.

To make that work exciting, compelling, and memorable to the audiences who will watch it.

At McDaniel Cinema, we are preparing the next wave of creative thinkers and storytellers - people who communicate powerful ideas and stories by using images and sound -- graduating talented and well-rounded "citizens of the world" who have something exciting and meaningful to say.

Upon completing the Cinema major, seniors receive a certificate that congratulates them for demonstrating "passion, ingenuity, tenacity, and humanity in storytelling."

We think this says it all.


Lewis Recitation Hall, 3rd floor

Jonathan Slade
Department Chair
(410) 857-2450

Communication & Cinema Online Catalog


Communication majors pursue careers in media (publishing, television, radio, internet sites, the film industry, advertising, public relations and event planning), business (sales, customer service, human resources, marketing, lobbying, public relations),  law (mediation), government (public information, conflict negotiation, campaigning), and education (recruitment, alumni affairs, student advising, teaching). Along with public speaking and rhetoric, television, radio, and cinema emerge from oral traditions. However, our courses also place a strong emphasis on writing. Not only will students be expected to write analyses in the 3000-level courses and most of our other courses, they will also write term papers in our two research and capstone courses. 


Associate Professor and department chair Jonathan SladeProfessor and department chair Jonathan Slade

(M.F.A., University of Southern California), whose work in public television has earned six Emmy awards, specializes in media literacy and micro-budget American independent cinema, and is committed to promoting a rigorous, multi-faceted approach to cinema that includes film history, critical analysis, screenwriting, and production whether he’s teaching television production, cell phone cinema, or environmental film.

Associate Professor Richard BrettAssociate Professor Richard Brett

(M.F.A., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro), A recipient of the Cine Eagle and a regional Emmy, Brett has also placed in national and international screenwriting competitions and has had his feature-length screenplays optioned by production companies in Los Angeles and Germany. He specializes in film and video production, history, theory, and screenwriting, and teaches courses in narrative film production, scriptwriting, video editing, and film analysis.

Associate Professor Robert LemieuxAssociate Professor Robert Lemieux

(Ph.D., University of Georgia), who recently curated a major art exhibition that focused on the history of the circus, counts health campaigns, romantic relationships and the culture of organizations among the research interests he shares with students. Professor Lemieux teaches courses in quantitative research methods, organizational, health, and relational communication.

Associate Professor Robert J. TraderAssociate Professor Robert J. Trader

(Ph.D., University of Kentucky), who teaches interpersonal communication, interactive media, and message design and has co-authored three books, "400 Simple Expressions for Effective Business Conversations in English", “Making Progress with the TOEIC Test” and “Baby Talk,” published in Japan, is particularly interested in how to design persuasive messages to obtain specific outcomes within educational and business settings.

Assistant Professor Erin WatleyAssistant Professor Erin Watley

(Ph.D., University of New Mexico), is dedicated to engaging big social problems in everyday life situations, and uses the lenses of cultural identities and popular media to do so. From the study of how popular YouTube characters represent race and gender, to the way that a conversation between friends can reinforce ideas about social class, Professor Watley integrates her interests in popular culture, media, social justice, and interpersonal dialogue into her teaching of courses in intercultural communication, media critique, and qualitative research.


Communication Senior Capstones

The senior seminar course in Communication represents the culmination of students work in Communication where students pursue a self-directed research project. Listed below are titles of recent senior seminar projects:

Laura Abbasi, (2012). “‘Their image of me’: A phenomenological study of the professional dress choices of female professors." Laura's paper was published in the 2012 Volume Proceedings of the 70th New York State Communication Association.

Kendal Ford, (2012). “‘We need more people who will give a damn’: Qualitative study on a minority culture group at a predominantly white college.”

Cindy Sordo, (2011). "Effective communication strategies in persuading safe sex behavior" [presented at the First Annual Undergraduate Scholar's Conference of the Eastern Communication Association, Spring, 2011]

Jill Wootten, (2011). "The effect of differing English accents on receiver evaluation of perceived source credibility: A quantitative study" [accepted for presentation at the First Annual Undergraduate Scholar's Conference of the Eastern Communication Association, Spring, 2011]

Harold Baines, (2011). "Physician-patient communication: Improving primary care physician information seeking strategies during the physician-patient interview process"

James De Atley, (2011). "Violent video games: A uses and gratifications approach" [presented at the First Annual Undergraduate Scholar's Conference of the Eastern Communication Association, Spring, 2011]

Karla Holland, (2011). "New media and the Christian community" [accepted for presentation at the First Annual Undergraduate Scholar's Conference of the Eastern Communication Association, Spring, 2011]

Anselmo Maria (2009) “I did it for the Lultz”: A qualitative study of disruptive online behavior.

Arrington Chad (2009). “Interaction reaction: An ethnographic study of inner city youth striving for friendship and acceptance”

Cinema Senior Capstones

Cinema students produce a 20-minute film that’s showcased in an annual public screening in May, Videopalooza.

Recent titles include:

"The Legacy of Dog" by David Van Tassell (2011). When a young man seeks revenge for the death of his grandfather, he finds himself tangled up in a web of corruption, deception, and a legacy of vengeance. (fiction, 28 min)

"Touched By An Angel" by Amy Andrews (2012). Andrews pays tribute to her mother Tammy Dawn Leister, and details how Tammy's death in 2004 impacted her family and friends. (documentary, 26 min)

“I Got Here, You Gotta Get Here” by Greg Carloss (2012). Carloss' 78-year-old grandfather John Cichetti ponders what it means to be elderly. (documentary, 22 min)

“The Project” by Tom Fiala (2012). A college student struggles to complete a class assignment with an uncooperative partner. (fiction, 18 min.)

"The Aftermath" by Rebecca Greenfield (2012). A young woman discovers that she is pregnant after a one-night stand, and struggles to decide what she will do with the baby. (fiction, 18 min)

“Sibling Rivalry” by Steven Hebblewaite (2012). A young man trapped in a dull, unfulfilling life, clashes with his sister who is also his roommate. (fiction, 20 min)

“maybe/maybe not” by Caroline Koogle (2012). A young man struggles to balance the needs of his family's business and his desire to go to college. (fiction, 18 min)

Recent student–faculty research collaboration

Student Professor Topic
Deara Marshall  Mr. Richard Brett, Mr. Jonathan Slade The MTA Might Take A While
Holly Mathers  Dr. Robert Lemieux  Presented a research paper at the Eastern Communication Association’s annual convention
Jonathan Wixen  Dr. Deborah Vance   Why did you tell me that?: Why Facebook users frequently update their status


The Department of Communication and Cinema strongly encourages students to pursue internships. The Baltimore/Washington DC area offers many opportunities. Also, students often secure internships in their hometowns during Jan term and summer months. Each intership experience is custom-made and depends on what students’ interests are and whether they’ll be located near school or home. We encourage students to intern where they’ll make work contacts and perform tasks related to their job aspirations. Some Communication majors approach organizations – hospitals, car dealers, etc. – and find internships in Public Relations Departments, for example. Cinema majors may opt for big networks or small production companies.
Here is a sampling of businesses where our majors have recently interned:


ARC of Carroll County (Event planning and marketing)
ASPIDA 360 (marketing)
Carroll Hospital Center (public relations)
Horizon Health (public relations)
Johns Hopkins University (public information)
Md. Office of Tourism (social networking)
National Aquarium
News 12 New Jersey
Under Armour
WBAL-TV (Production assistant)


BET Network
Comcast Sports
Crimson Chain Productions
Discovery Channel
Maryland Public Television
Nancy Glass Productions
National Geographic Society
Paramount Studios
Waganer Digital Video (production assistant)
WPMT Fox 43

Television and Radio

The department is closely linked to McD-TV, the campus television station, and WMCR, the campus radio station. For those interested in media and broadcasting, both venues give students the opportunity to gain experience and enhance their skills.

Lambda Pi Eta

Lambda Pi Eta, the national Communication Honor Society, promotes outstanding scholastic achievement in communication studies. Students with at least 60 credit hours and a cumulative TGPA of at least 3.0; in the upper 35% of the academic class and with a minimum GPA of 3.25 and 12 credit hours in Communication may be invited to join the local chapter.

The group plans and coordinates activities on campus related to communication studies.

Students have an option of submitting papers for presentation at the Eastern Communication Association’s Lambda Pi Eta annual convention in April.

Public Speaking

The Department hosts an annual juried public speaking contest, Battle of the Speeches, where we award cash prizes. Winners names are engraved on a plaque and hung in the department office suite.

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