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Student, Sophia Mosner-Koor

Senior gains real-world experience in cinema

By Jamie Gropper

Sophia Mosner-Koor’s interest in cinema was sparked at an early age.

“Growing up, Saturday nights were always movie night in my household,” Mosner-Koor said. “That’s what I saw myself doing when I grew up. I didn’t know what that meant but I knew I wanted to be part of the industry.”

Mosner-Koor is a senior majoring in cinema and knows that performance in the classroom is important. However, gaining real-world experience in the film industry, she said, would be a crucial aspect in landing a job of her own.

In the summer of 2014, Mosner-Koor spent time working with a PBS freelance producer. “It was cool seeing projects in motion from beginning to end,” she said. “He would ask me for my opinion a lot of the time.”

One of her main projects at PBS consisted of working on a documentary about a landslide in Oso, Wash., called “Killer Landslides.”

Just before 11 a.m. on March 22, 2014, an ominous rumble startled the residents of the community of Oso, about an hour's drive from Seattle. It was the terrifying sound of what would become the United States' deadliest landslide in decades.

The landslide, which covered a square mile of the Stillaguamish River valley, killed 43 people, destroyed 49 buildings and closed a state highway for six months.

“It had a major impact on me watching something so detrimental become a documentary,” Mosner-Koor said. “So many people would eventually watch what I had worked on. I enjoyed it and being able to get feedback from the PBS producers was a bonus.”

President Obama declared Oso a federal disaster area.

“I was in communication with the director everyday; we had a storyboard to follow and made a lot of artistic decisions,” she said. “It was interesting to see that side of it, because I had never seen that before. It was great experience.”

The following summer was different for Mosner-Koor. She worked with a small distribution company of five women. The company’s priority was getting its clients’ movies out to film festivals for publicity.

Mosner-Koor helped create databases, collect inventory and was able to learn more about the business from a corporate standpoint.

“My boss had said to me: ‘I know this isn’t the most interesting part of the movie business but it’s how movies get made,’” Mosner-Koor said.

Mosner-Koor thought editing wasn’t her forte but that changed when she was enrolled in her first hands-on cinema course at Binghamton. She fell in love with the process.

“As a freshman and sophomore you get to immerse and experience different aspects of cinema,” she said. “My passion and concentration are more focused now.”

As she finishes her last semester of college, Mosner-Koor has spent a lot of time working on her senior thesis. The thesis consists of a 17-minute movie about loneliness from two juxtaposing perspectives.

“I’m the director and editor,” Mosner-Koor said. “Hopefully I’ll be submitting this movie to a film festival at the end of the semester. I’m really scared. The actors are my friends so it’s tough but it’s the most ambitious thing I have ever worked on.”

Although she has had great experiences, Mosner-Koor has more exploring to do.

“The Holiday,” a movie starring Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Kate Winslet, is one of Mosner-Koor’s favorites. She realized that Diaz’s role — editing movie trailers — in the movie was what made her fall in love with film.

“I would like to work in a trailer house where they create movie trailers,” she said. “Everything is in California, though. Coming from the east coast and getting a one way trip out to California is scary, but that’s my ultimate goal.”

Mosner-Koor said Binghamton has given her a great platform to explore and understand cinema in ways she never thought possible. 

“I love the Cinema Department because they allowed me to explore varying aspects of cinema. My professors taught me how to have an analytical perspective and consistently encouraged my art and passion,” Mosner-Koor said. “I am excited to get my foot in the door of the movie industry and help inspire others the same way I was.”

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Last Updated: 3/1/17