The Sophomore Film: Behind The Scenes

The Arts

By: Lucy Garcia

The Charles C. Baum Film and Visual Storytelling Department here at Baltimore School for the Arts is jam-packed with projects, productions, and complex creations. There is not a moment in the school year where film students do not have individual projects to complete or stories to write. 

However, every year, one big production assignment is given to each grade. The seniors have that year’s Expressions video, the juniors have their episodic films, and the freshmen are busy learning the foundations of cinema. 

The sophomores are tasked with their first big production: the sophomore film. 

The sophomore film, a project from the minds of department heads Beatriz Bufrahi and Thomas Ventimiglia, was created to be a teaching tool.

The film is a staple in the sophomore curriculum and has been in practice since the film program was first created in 2017. It is used for sophomores to gain experience on set, to work on problem solving, and to develop their skills as filmmakers. 

The sophomores begin working on the film a little before halfway through the school year, and eventually it is premiered at the annual End of Year Screening at BSA. 

“The first year is set around the frame,” Beatriz Bufrahi said, “So, the freshmen have photography, storyboard drawing, animation… but then in sophomore year it’s skill building, and the accumulation of that skillbuilding is the sophomore film.”

The film is a student based production, using only the equipment the sophomores have access to, paired with a small budget for wardrobe, make-up, and props. The entire film, including scripts, shot-lists, and storyboards are all original student work. 

In the early stages of planning, the sophomores get assigned production positions in the film, such as director, gaffer, audio, etc.

However, the procedure with the role of the writer is slightly different than the rest. Every sophomore is required to make treatments, beat sheets, and finally, produce a script. A vote is then held amongst the students, and the winning script gets transformed into the sophomore film. 

And through that process Henry Schmid-James came up with the script for this year’s sophomore film. 

“The title is Senioritis. It follows a group of restless students in their last year of high-school, and their attempt to pull off one of the craziest senior pranks their school has ever seen,” Schmid-James explained. 

Once the script is chosen, heads are butted, rewrites occur, and wardrobe, actors, and set locations are decided. With these decisions complete, filming can finally begin. 

Filming, for any cinematic piece, is constantly a stressful stage. Guaranteed, there will be problems. There’s not enough time, miscommunications occur, and sometimes it feels as if the entire universe is working against you and your project. 

“The most stressful part about making this film was definitely the constant battle against time,” Sophomore and Assistant Director Toni Wells disclosed. “The fact that we had very little time and so much to shoot left the whole cast and crew stressed throughout the eight days of filming.”

In a war with deadlines, actors, and clashing opinions, film sets can often get overwhelming and unpleasant, but there is no time to halt the production. When issues come up, there is no option but to persevere. 

“The most stressful part is having to keep going with production when issues come up. Having a deadline to work through issues is very difficult, but so far it’s worked out with good management.” Georgie Restauro, another sophomore and PA, stated. 

And while filming may be the worst of times, it is also the best. 

For every bad moment, there is always a good one that counters it. Every crisis is eventually justified by the satisfaction of creating something with your own mind and hands. There is the beauty and brilliance of wrapping a shot, of the final take of the final scene.

The fulfillment that comes with finishing a film is undeniable and is definitely enjoyed better with a team. 

“As writer and director, I try to help oversee all of the creative and technical aspects, but it’s really the whole class that makes the film.” Schmid-James said. 

The film is a team effort, and everyone contributes to the long creative process. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither is the sophomore film.

“To me, the sophomore film is a really big moment for collaborative work. Maybe the biggest they’ve ever had, because this is the first production where everyone is together. Everybody is so on point because they have to be, because they don’t want to let anybody down. So everybody is super focused, super on point and it has been really amazing,” Bufrahi explained. “There’s always a difference between students sitting in the classroom and then being on set. That’s where they really, like, supershine. All of them.”

While the film not only helps the sophomores develop their cinematic skills, it also helps them develop relationships with other branches of the school. The main department that helps with this film each year is the acting department. 

In the sophomore acting department curriculum, there are two weeks reserved for the sophomore film. Through a careful and precise audition process, a group of actors are selected based on the film’s needs. 

This year, the main actors for Senioritis include Nefer Purvis, Ellie Schmid-James, Charles McLain, Lailah Jaan, and Zemirah Blount.

With the Film and Acting sophomores working closely together for two weeks nonstop, beneficial work relationships often blossom. The film helps place people together who otherwise may not have interacted.

“I’ve been able to connect with people more and talk to people I probably wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for the project, like certain actors,” expands Restauro.

And while good work contacts are always needed, friendship sets the tone for the set, and can create a comfortable atmosphere. While it is imperative that actors and film crews stay professional and get their work done in a timely manner according to their schedule, it never hurts to have fun with the people you work with. 

“My experience on set is very fun… we get hair and make up done and it feels very professional,” actor Ellie Schmid-James explains. “They kind of just order us around and we go with the flow, but we’re friends. There’s no power imbalance, we’re all just friends and we all have fun. I really enjoy it.” 

But even with a good script, good actors, and a good production team, it can still be nerve-wrecking showcasing the final product to an audience. 

“I’m really scared, honestly. There are a few jokes in there that might land horribly… There’s lots of room for error. I’m so excited for BSA to see it though. I think the film department has this stigma attached to it, that ‘we don’t do anything.’ We do so many things, but we’re never given a platform to show the stuff we create to the school. Even if half the stuff we make is crap, film deserves an audience just like everyone else,” says Henry Schmid-James.

When in front of an audience, nervousness is expected, but excitement often exceeds any negative emotions. The film department thrives off of taking pride in your own work, so despite the fear that accompanies bringing your creations to the public, it is important to remain confident in your endeavors. And to absolutely never forget how proud Beatriz Bufrahi is of her students.

“I am so, so proud,” Bufrahi begins. “I mean, even if they’re in a bad mood, they still work. They still get the job done. Seeing them collaborate with each other, seeing them problem solving, and seeing them engaged, it’s all so amazing, they’re all so invested. It really is all so beautiful.”

To contact this writer email Muse Newspaper at

Photographs taken by Alex Taylor for the BSA Muse

AI Art: Friend or Foe?

The Arts

By: Lucy Garcia

When you search up the words “World famous paintings,” classic pieces like the “Mona Lisa,” and “Starry Night,” come up. These paintings have two things in common. Firstly, they were created with human hands, each stroke of a brush unique to the painter. Secondly, each one of these recognized paintings took years to make. 

The famous quote, “All good things take time,” has always applied to art, but with recent technological advances, many artists are beginning to doubt it. 

So, what if we could make these paintings in the same style, the same genre, even with the same unique flair as previous paintings, but with a fraction of the time? With websites everyone has access to, as opposed to traditional art supplies? That’s precisely what AI Art does. 

AI Art (art made with artificial intelligence) has slowly begun to infiltrate the high circle of craft. 

Artificial Intelligence is the field of science where machines are programmed to mimic human action and intelligence through different algorithms. 

The roots and concept of Artificial Intelligence date back to the 1800’s, with the actual implementation of AI starting around the 1940’s. However, AI didn’t truly flourish until the 2010’s, when Apple created Siri and the first self-driving car passed a state driving test

In 2015, a scientist by the name of Alexander Mordvintsev created a generator called DeepDream in order to study and figure out how these algorithms learned visual concepts. From there, the AI art world expanded. 

Artificial intelligence was then transferred over into the arts, where digital generators take in words like “Van Gogh Painting,” or “Picasso Art,” and the computer then combs through the internet gathering data until it can generate an image that reflects the information it has stored. 

These machines are designed to recognize patterns from anywhere on the web in order to conjure up similar ones. However, this can be incredibly problematic. More often than not, the images that AI collects are taken without permission, without proper credit, and without compensation. 

Anyone with their artwork online, from world renowned artists to smaller indie creators, can’t escape the scrutinization from AIs. This could be considered a possible copyright issue, as well as an infringement on personal privacy and people’s own hard work.

Many artists are concerned that since a new, alternative, cheaper form of creating art has emerged, that their services will no longer be needed. Since an AI can recreate anything, any style, or any genre, many are beginning to wonder if AI will replace human creativity. 

When asked if any part of AI art concerned her future as an artist, freshman visual artist Lotus Pryor responded, “Yeah, it does. You know, what if AI art becomes the new standard, but then there’s people with actual real talent in this world? Not saying that AI art isn’t real talent, but there are people that work hard, and then there are people making millions off art they didn’t even put much effort into.”

Due to all the controversy around AI, many exclude it from the world of art and consider AI to be a fraud. However, some people don’t. In 2022, the winner of the Colorado State Fair Digital Art category was Jason M. Allen, who submitted a piece called “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial.” 

However, Allen’s submission wasn’t like everyone else’s. The piece was created by the AI Midjourney, a popularly used program in the AI Art world. Allen defended his work and his honor by stating that he had been transparent with judges about the piece and its origins, yet Allen was still dragged by the art community. 

Many accused him of cheating or breaking the rules. It was a big debate whether or not the art was a form of plagiarism, using the argument that while Allen was the one to use Midjourney and contributed edits to the product, the majority of it was done by a computer taking “inspiration” from everything else on the internet. 

However, on the opposite side of the spectrum are the positives that many creators have pointed out about AI. With AI art generators continuously being created and uploaded to the internet, they may be the more convenient option for everyone. 

Many AI art users argue that these AI Art generators, the majority of them free and easy to use, seem far more accessible than $100 art supplies at overpriced stores. 

 In fact, the image below was created by an AI art generator called Dream by WOMBO. It only took the AI a little over 25 seconds to generate a piece of art from the words: “a robot painting a picture.”

A piece of AI art created by Dream by WOMBO based on the words“a robot painting a picture.”

With AI being the much cheaper, faster, and available option, some creators have taken the plunge and switched. Some people have even begun to sell prints of their generated artwork as a way to make money

Throughout history people have feared the unknown and the uncharted, and many of these discoveries have introduced new beginnings, not endings. When asked if AI art was either the end of human art or a new beginning, Pryor responded, “I think both. It could be the beginning of a new type of art, but it’s also lowering the standard for what we classify as art as well.”

With the use of AI still up in the air, only time will tell the true effect that AI will have on the world of art. 

To contact this writer, email Muse Newspaper at

Artwork created by Crystal Gonzalez for the BSA Muse.

Expressions: Picture Within A Picture

The Arts

By: Quinn Bryant

The annual Expressions showcase opened on March 2nd and has continued to be one of the only opportunities at BSA to showcase all departments in one event, besides the Black History Month Showcase. Even so, the visual arts department year after year has continued to be more tucked away compared to the other art forms.

However, for the first time, the visual arts department was able to be a part of the main stage show. This year the visual arts department opened Expressions.  

Following the visual arts opening piece were many performances and film debuts. The dance department had two performances, one being “Flaws Loading”, choreographed by Da’Shown Rawl, and “Hand (Something) to (Someone)” which was a mix between TWIGS and BSA dancers. The music department showcased its string orchestra and jazz band, and ended the event with a finale showcasing the talents of the entire music department. The senior theater production performed the opening number to RENT. The film department debuted its film “No Rewrite,” along with other short documentary pieces. And one cannot forget the work of the production crew that ran the entire show from behind the scenes. 

According to Visual Arts Department Head Archie Veale, in the past it was never a goal for the department to be in the main show. The visual arts department found other ways to show off their talents during Expressions. There was always the gallery show for the reception after the on-stage performances and the Gala art activities. Other than that, their involvement would vary from year to year.  

Sometimes the visual arts department curated spaces specific to Expressions. They’ve created some installation pieces and decorated areas for the show. “It got to be really tedious and below what the other departments were doing in showcasing their talent,” says Veale. 

As this year’s Expressions came around, Veale asked to have three minutes somewhere in the showcase for the visual arts department. Once that was granted, he turned to the Junior visual artists to brainstorm ideas for how they could fill that time. “I pitched it to the Juniors because the Seniors are too busy, and the underclassmen just are not ready,” says Veale. 

Chloe McNeil, a junior visual artist, stated that the Juniors took inspiration from a photograph by Thomas Stuth titled Louvre 4, which they learned about in Art History. The format of the slideshow was similar to works such as infinite paper and infinity books. Veale added, “We couldn’t do that, but we could do picture within and picture.”

Veale became more excited about the concept when he was able to incorporate the song Infinite Regression from one of his favorite albums, The Fith Exaotic by Quantic. “They had the art inspiration, and I had the music inspiration,” says Veale.  

According to McNeil, each grade had to find and agree on a piece of artwork to inspire their work. It had to be a ratio of 3 x 4, and students had a little over a month to complete it. 

The Juniors chose “The Son of Man” by Rene Magritte, says McNeil, while the Seniors chose the “Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosc. “We were so mesmerized by it, so it was just the perfect piece to choose,” says Josephine Jernigan-Hardrick, a senior visual artist.     

However, the masterful artworks did not make it in the final product. “We started out with the inspiration piece at the start of each grade, but some pieces ended up getting cut, and it went by too fast. Taking out the inspiration piece gave each piece more time to be seen,” says McNeil.     

When the piece debuted, Veale was glad to see that it actually happened and people saw it. He added that students got to try things they never had done before. “They liked it, so I loved it,” says Veale.

Hardrick expressed, “It looks so cohesive, and I am really proud of all of us.” 

Expressions will continue for many years to come and Veale finally feels as though the visual arts department has found its place in Expressions. “It will become our spot to create some sort of visual to start the show,” says Veale. “We are not necessarily underappreciated, we are just not the most outward department. I feel as though this is exactly what we needed,” says Hardrick.

McNeil hopes “People can see how hard we work and that we are not just drawing with crayons.” 

To contact this writter email Muse Newspaper at

Black History Month Fashion Show Photo Series

Archive, The Arts

By: Amalie Nohe-Moren

To contact this photographer email Muse Newspaper at

BSA Models Professional Expectations for Artistic Careers

Archive, The Arts

By: Scarlett O’Comartun and Jude Harvey

It’s no secret that attending the Baltimore School for the Arts for high school is a commitment. Students spend their four years of high school life focused on one chosen art discipline, which could be hard for some people. Going to a high school focused on the arts is so different from attending a regular high school. Does BSA affect the choices people make to pursue art as a career? 

The high school is a prestigious and well known art school across the country. Hundreds of eighth and ninth-grade students apply every year, but a fraction of that get in. Students who go here have to be serious about their art discipline. 

“I see myself pursuing a career in music because I feel like I have a connection to music, I feel like I’m able to express myself by playing my instrument and turn it into something that other people can enjoy,” says Alex Mott, a freshman violinist. 

Some students start their art discipline early. Students may attend John Hopkins Peabody Institute, a college conservatory just a couple blocks from BSA, and many have done TWIGS, the after school art program for grade schoolers provided by BSA.

“My parents didn’t encourage it (violin), I actually decided to start, and I went to TWIGS before I came here,” says Alex. Out of school programs play a big part in preparing and helping students at the school.

Students at BSA are almost promised to leave the school with a level of professionalism that other students don’t get. That entails a lot of work and commitment. 

“I think that the training, it feels kind of professional to me because I feel like we are held accountable for our own actions and managing our time and practicing our craft,” says Senior Violinist Sierra Weems.

“The teachers have high expectations and treated us like adults,” says Alumni violinist and BSA Board of Trustees member Li Wen Kang class of 1988.  

There are many memorable things that can happen at school, whether it’s a showcase or a teacher, and BSA students are very grateful. “I think the chorus, when Dr. Hardy gives us those lectures, it opens my eyes for sure. I mean, he talks like this is real, it kind of is real, being here,” says Sierra, when asked what she will take away from her high school experience.

“This is not the normal high school experience at all, and I think we can all say that,” said Weems.

To contact these writers, email Muse Newspaper at

Headline photo caption:

Photo from the Baltimore School for the Arts Instagram. BSA alumni and students rehearse for the Mozart’s Requiem Concert.

COMMENTARY | Has COVID-19 Jeopardized the Future for Visual Arts Senior Concentration?

Opinion, School Year 2021-22, The Arts

By: Quinn Bryant 

Students in the Visual Arts department, like most departments, spend three years dabbling in a variety of mediums within their discipline, but something that makes the Visual Arts curriculum stand out from the rest is Senior Concentration. Senior Concentration is the opportunity for Senior Visual Artists to choose one or two specific Visual Arts disciplines to focus on for the entirety of the year. During Senior year, Visual Artists only have three other classes outside of Senior Concentration: Art History 3, Sculpture 2, and Mixed Media.

Senior Concentration is a lengthy process and starts before Visual Arts seniors have their first day of classes. It starts with junior year juries. Juniors discuss with their jurors what medium they might want to pursue and why? Then, according to Visual Arts Department Head Archie Veale, over the summer, rising seniors should spend their time creating concrete ideas within their sketchbooks, so they can take their work “right from the sketchbook onto the wall,” says Veale. 

When I was considering applying to BSA, this was one of the parts of the school that sold it for me. The opportunity for me to spend the majority of my final year focusing on the art medium I enjoy most and preparing for what I might be doing in college excited me. It is something that not only me, but many of my peers were fascinated and excited about since freshman year. 

But the unique thing about Senior Concentration that I don’t think people fully understand is that it’s not just taking one class for the majority of the year. This course is completely self-driven. There are no prompts, no teacher-assigned lessons, or given teacher restrictions. It’s all up to you. It is all about the Visual Artists creating their own body of work, on their own, without any push from teachers. Teachers essentially work as a facilitator and give additional help to the students.

Whether students in the Visual Arts department want to become a doctor, a professional painter, or work in art therapy, the idea of creating your own body of work without any teacher instruction is very compelling. Visual Arts Seniors Gigi Pilla and Anastasia Glass had the same feeling that a lot of Visual Artists have when they found out about Senior Concentration. Pilla said it gave her the chance to explore and Glass felt as though they would be well prepared for when they moved on from high school.

Visual Arts Senior, Anastasia Glass , and guest looking at artwork. Photo by Ella Haber.

However, with Senior Concentration being a very independent practice, there is a lot of student self-accountability. As Veale says, “It’s not for everyone”. But it is not something some students can do while others sit out. “You cannot send three students to the moon,” says Veale. I agree that it is a tremendous amount of accountability that students have to hold to themselves. They have to produce a body of work that not only reflects them as an artist but reflects all of the techniques they have learned here at BSA. 

However, for next year’s Seniors and possibly the Seniors following them, Senior Concentration is in jeopardy of continuing a little differently or not at all, and it’s mainly due to COVID-19. Yes, COVID-19 has affected much of our lives inside and outside of the classroom, so it isn’t a surprise that COVID has affected this big self-driven curriculum. As previously discussed, Senior Concentration is the culmination of three years of practice, and missing just one of those years can be very difficult. This year’s Seniors had to do virtually one of the most informative and impactful years as a Visual Artist, Junior year. 

Pilla, Glass, and fellow Senior Visual Artist Ayana Hall attested to that. Hall discussed that she sees Junior Visual Artists creating artwork she never got the opportunity to even start thinking about because of the virtual year. And I can agree on the same thing. I was surprised when I saw the Visual Arts Freshman working in color, as that was something I never got to do Freshman year.

The Covid year has affected our arts all in different ways, some positive and some negative. First, Pilla discussed that she was in a rut during virtual school. She often lost motivation to create art, but she did stay very active in photography, which is why she chose that as her Senior Concentration. However, Glass felt as though she was very motivated when she got back in the building to push through with Senior Concentration because she was just excited to be back in a real live art room with all of her friends. 

The current Visual Arts Juniors had to spend their Sophomore year, which is part two of refining their technical skills, virtually. Additionally, they were not able to do a traditional first year of art school, which as you can imagine is a very vital year. Due to these drawbacks, Juniors and Sophomores (but more prominently Juniors) opportunity to do Senior Concentration is being debated. It may be that this year’s Freshmen, if COVID permits it, will be able to do Senior Concentration if no other classes do, according to the Veale.

I do not think Senior Concentration should be cut, which is an obvious notion as I am a Junior Visual Artist eager to do an entire year of painting. It might just need to be modified. In my discussion with Pilla and Glass, they talked about having more structure in the program, and I was interested to find out that certain parts of the program I thought would be included weren’t something they ever did. 

Pilla discussed that she would have enjoyed the opportunity to get together with the entirety of the class for critiques a couple of times in the year. It was hard for her to get critiques because her Senior Concentration focus, photography, only included one other person. I was surprised that the Seniors never all got together to talk about what they were working on.

Visual Arts Senior, Gigi Pilla , and guest looking at photography. Photo by Ella Haber.

Pilla also expressed the need for more teacher push. I know Senior Concentration is meant for students to work solely independently, and they have to hold themselves accountable, But I think we can all agree if an academic teacher doesn’t give a due date on an assignment or tells you to submit it “whenever”, you are most likely to keep prioritizing other things over it. Senior Concentration is something where the final due date is the end of the year. But one of the changes Pilla suggested to the Senior Concentration  curriculum is for their to be more actual deadlines.

The difficult thing about that is students are going to produce different amounts of work and some pieces could take longer than others. So one of my personal suggestions is a beginning of the year assignment where students have to make a year long or semester long schedule with due dates that they want to abide by. That still calls for student accountability, but it also helps students have the pressure of the assignment there to push them to keep going. 

As the school year is ending, Veale expresses his advice to the Junior Visual Arts class and the underclassman. “Juniors need to prepare themselves for what’s going to be a very stressful year,” according to Veale. Juniors should not take the summer off from art; they need to use their sketchbooks continuously to gain a snapshot of who they are. Juniors should reflect on their past work at BSA and come ready to play and experiment during Senior year.  

Veale has two main pieces of advice for underclassmen. One to “Continue to make art for yourself, not just the assignments we give you,” says Veale. And second, all Visual Arts classes should never lose their love for their art. Veale does not want the weight of the academic schedule or the art assignment to make underclassmen forget why they are here. 

Senior Concentration is an incredible opportunity. It allows Visual Artists to take everything they’ve learned and bring it all together. The Senior show holds some of the most creative pieces of the year the Visual Arts Department produces. So as you find yourself on the first floor, stop by the gallery show and look at some of the incredible work from this year’s Seniors class of 2022.

To contact this writer, email Muse Newspaper at