Michael Piantini was at a crossroads until he met a friend who worked as a writer. After learning about his friend’s career journey, he was inspired to combine his passion for film with the written word to pursue a master’s degree at the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema. The aspiring media scholar will graduate with a Master of Arts degree this spring with a promising freelance writing career. Piantini has written films, essays, and thought pieces analyzing and critiquing all aspects of cinema as an art form. His work has been featured in Hyperallergic, Filmmaker Magazine, and Game Informer, amongst other publications. As an Afro-Latino writer and cinephile, his goal is to inform audiences about the beauty of cinema, the aesthetics of film, and the cultural context media lives in to understand their thematic relevance.

What did you study at Brooklyn College? 

I went to the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema where I got my Master of Arts degree in screen studies. Towards the end of 2019, I had no trajectory in my life. I felt stagnant with the part-time job I previously worked at. While working at my previous job, I met a friend who is an active writer.

Within the first few minutes of meeting each other, we exchanged social media. After a quick browse of his portfolio, I felt inspired to take my ambitions a step further and attend grad school, so I can do thrilling research about the wonders of film. I know that studying and writing about culture excites me so having the rigor of a master’s program seemed like a good place to be.

What have you learned while majoring in screen studies?  

I learned how to do in-depth research, improved on writing bibliographies, and have a better understanding of Chicago-style citations. A major takeaway I learned is how to organize my thoughts and never stop asking questions. I had a professor who was talking about academics, he was talking to people who didn’t share that same passion. I remember he said, “There is no such thing as going too deep.” That statement resonated with me whenever I talked to friends about a show or movie we watched. There are always questions to ask and larger sociopolitical forces in everything.

What is your favorite genre of film?  

I always enjoy whodunit mystery films. In whodunit films, there are multilayered characters and cliches that interweave with each other—that’s always a fun time. Since the whodunit film genre is so old, I can feel the sense of how things were. For example, when you watch a mystery unfold that happened in the 1950s, certain constraints will come up because of the times. But I also enjoy seeing anything that makes me feel inspired by nature. There’s a great film called Liborio (2021) that does this wonderfully.

What are your plans for after graduation? 

I would like to write more and dive deeper into the Dominican film and TV space. My plan for after graduation would be to get a fellowship or a job within the film distribution space.