Mason Film Lab

At Mason, we bring our classroom to the community.

Each semester FAVS students collaborate on location to produce a short film for the Mason Film Lab. Producing students spend class time over the semester producing the location shoot and then collaborate on set with students in Cinematography to crew the short film. The Mason Film Lab short film is directed by an experienced director, produced by Professor Lisa Thrasher and FAVS Director Giovanna Chesler, and shot by Emmy-nominated Director of Photography and Professor Hans Charles. Mason Film Lab gives students real crew experience similar to what they will experience beyond their college education. The Mason Film Lab productions will go on to film festivals nation-wide, giving FAVS students the experience of working on a complete film in every stage: from pre-production, production, post-production, to the festival circuit. #FocusCaptureCreate #FAVSGMU

Mason Film Lab is sponsored by



BURP, the most recent film from the Mason Film Lab is currently in post-production. BURP was written and directed by Colette Burson.


Semester of production, Fall 2017:
Students on set: FAVS 311 Producing, FAVS 331 Cinematography, FAVS 399 Advanced Cinematography, FAVS 333 Sound Editing and Recording


Colette Burson is a writer/director/producer known for the feature film PERMANENT, starring Patricia Arquette and Rainn Wilson (2017), HUNG (HBO, 2009-2011), and THE RICHES (FX, 2007-2008). She directed episodes of HUNG, as well as the short film LITTLE BLACK BOOT (Sundance, 2004; PlanetOut Grand Prize Winner, 2004; Logo Television Best Short Film Award, 2006).

On set of Burp
Colette Burson on set of the Mason Film Lab. Photo: Sarah Heaton
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Roberto DeCecco pulls focus for Director Colette Burson and Cinematography professor Damien Coor, Elijah James with the slate.

Photos: Sarah Heaton and William Dickson
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Producing students with actress Nina Millin (center) have fun on set, CVPA Dean Rick Davis visits the set with Arts at Mason Board Member Jay Speer and Artist Isabelle Truchon.

Photos: William Dickson
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Sound professor Amanda Kraus oversees her sound recording students while recording outside, Mia Ward films behind the scenes footage.

Photos: Sarah Heaton and William Dickson

Myself When I Am Real

A man and a woman see a therapist together in a last ditch effort to save their marriage. Their story has wider implications. Written and directed by Nefertite Nguvu.

Semester of production, Spring 2017:
Students on set: FAVS 311 Producing and FAVS 331 Cinematography


Nefertite Nguvu is a graduate of New York's School of Visual Arts, where she obtained a B.F.A in Film. Her thesis project at SVA won the award for outstanding screenplay. Nefertite has written, produced and directed several narrative shorts: I WANT YOU, THE END OF WINTER, and the soon to be released films: MYSELF WHEN I AM REAL for the Mason Film Lab and THE LAST TWO LOVERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD for the AT&T Hello Film Lab. Nefertite also directed a ten-part web series featuring Queen Latifah for Cover Girl and Flavor Unit Entertainment entitled U.N.I.T.Y. RE-IGNITED, LOVE STAR a mini music documentary, as well as an eight-part web series entitled BLACK AMERICA AGAIN featuring Academy Award winning musician/actor Common for Universal Music and Freedom Road Productions.

As writer/director/producer, Nefertite made her feature film debut with IN THE MORNING, a film about love and its inevitable change/decline charting the emotional anatomy of several relationships over the course of one day. The film debuted at the Urban World Film Festival in New York City and won the Audience Award for Best Feature Film. After a string of successful film festival screenings across the country and in Paris, Rome and Johannesburg, the film also won the award for Best International Film at the Terra Di Siena Film Festival in Italy, Best Narrative Feature at the BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia, and Best Feature Film and Best Overall at the Bronzelens Film Festival in Atlanta.

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L to R: Students work with Cinematography Professor Hans Charles, Producing student Katy Crain with Nefertite Nguvu, Nicholas Canonico records sound on set. 

Photos: William Dickson
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Will Sidaros and Donovan Jones using the Red camera, Student producers on set.

Photos: William Dickson

The Pick Up

Sullen teen Melanie’s unexpected trip home from swim practice takes her on a bumpy ride toward adulthood. THE PICK UP was written and directed by Giovanna Chesler. It premiered at the 2018 Wicked Queer Festival in Boston.


Semester of Production, Fall 2016
Students on set: FAVS 311 Producing, FAVS 331 Cinematography


Photo by Evan Cantwell

Professor Chesler is a Director and Producer of documentary and fiction film through her production company G6 Pictures. She earned an M.F.A. in Cinema from San Francisco State (Most Distinguished Graduate) and a B.A. from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in Anthropology and a minor in Women’s Studies (with Highest Honors.) Professor Chesler directs documentary and narrative films addressing themes of the body, sexuality, and gender. Her films have been exhibited at over 120 film festivals worldwide and in museums and gallery spaces including Anthology Film Archives, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, La Jolla Contemporary Art Museum, New Orleans International Film Festival, Outfest, Frameline, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival, and more. Her new short fiction film THE PICK UP (2018, 10 min, RED Cameras) will premiere this year at the Boston Wicked Queer Film Festival. JAVA (2017, 11 min, RED) just completed its festival run. Recently, Chesler worked as Associate Producer and Co-Editor on Zeinabu irene Davis' feature documentary SPIRITS OF REBELLION: BLACK CINEMA FROM UCLA, which was awarded Best Diaspora Documentary at the African Academy Awards and Best Documentary – Jury and Audience at Blackstar Film Festival in Philadelphia. Giovanna  produced the POV / ITVS funded documentary feature OUT IN THE NIGHT (dorosh-walther, 2015) which won fifteen awards and launched the United Nations’ Free + Equal film campaign in 70 countries. As a Producer, Chesler was selected to participate in the Film Independent Artist Development Program Fast Track and has been recognized by Women In Film and Video-DC as one of 30 women directors to watch. Her scholarship focuses on sound, documentary and community engaged learning. She teaches courses in fiction directing and screenwriting and transmedia and interactive storytelling She earned an M.F.A. in Cinema from San Francisco State (Most Distinguished Graduate) and a B.A. from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in Anthropology (with Highest Distinction) and a minor in Women’s Studies. Giovanna is an active member of Film Independent and University Film and Video Association.

THE PICK UP Festival Selections
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On set of THE PICK UP

L to R: Student producers on set, Cinematography student Tara Tung pulls focus with director Giovanna Chesler, Samantha Siewart makes costume adjustments on set.

Photos: Meagan Arnold
Film and Video Studies scholarship recipient Donovan Jones (center) on the set of the Mason Film Lab shoot, THE PICK UP. Photo by Film and Video Studies scholarship recipient Meagan Arnold.
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JAVA co-stars Drae Campbell as Jet, a handsome artist who realizes the dark consequences of her daily routine of obsessively sketching Diana, played by George Mason School of Theater alum Rebecca Wahls. JAVA was written and directed by Giovanna Chesler and produced and crewed by 60 Film and Video Studies majors.

Read the Java Press Release here: JAVA Press Release

JAVA Festival Selections
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Reel Afirmations DC laurels