Alumni Spotlight | Martin Purvis (Film '80)

Was there a specific faculty member or peer who especially inspired you while at the School of the Arts? If so, who and how?

Andrew Sarris. When he lectured on film aesthetics/criticism, I felt he was creating the lecture on-the-fly. He was thinking about the subject matter creatively while he lectured. His style influenced my own lecturing style in my professional career
How did attending the School of the Arts impact your work and career as an artist?

It made me think more about narrative structure..

What were the most pressing social/political issues on the minds of the students when you were here?   
This was the late 1970s, and there was still a strong anti-war sentiment among the student. Perhaps something that may surprise younger people today is that we were very aware of the limited global energy options and that this was something that needed immediate remedial action.

If you could revisit any piece you created during your time at the School of the Arts, which would it be? Why?       
There is a film that I never completed that was a good idea and could have been an interesting work.

What was your favorite or most memorable class while at the School of the Arts?  
Andrew Sarris's film criticism class.

About Martin Purvis
I went on to become a professor of information science and did not have a career in the arts. However, I did introduce the idea into my discipline that making films about a proposed software product is a valuable way to present and evaluate how that product will engage with its social and environmental context.
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.