News and events

  • Dragons’ Den pitch proves successful for CPCF student

    Brock student Cecily Zeppetella, together with her father Pete Zeppetella, entered the Dragons’ Den earlier this month and walked away with not one but two investors.

    The fourth-year Media and Communications student took part in her father’s pitch for Zeppsgear, which produces patented outerwear for labourers working at heights. The company’s jackets allow for safety harnesses to be worn underneath without a risk of choking in the event of a fall.

    The pitch, which lasted about 40 minutes in real time, demonstrated the effectiveness of the gear with a surprise dummy drop from the studio ceiling, catching the Dragons off-guard.

    Zeppetella says the pressure of the pitch combined with that of being on camera and following production’s cues, while wearing warm jackets under studio lights, made for an interesting and exciting experience.

    And the outcome is just what she and her dad hoped for.

    “We’ve had opportunities from investors before, so it was more about the Dragons’ expertise rather than the money for us,” says Zeppetella. “We knew that it would be a good kick-start on the marketing side and that some of the individuals on the panel would be able to help us wanting to regulate or mandate the product.”

    She notes that website traffic spiked after the episode aired on Thursday, Oct. 5, and that the women’s line sold out quickly.

    “We got orders, which was great, but we also had wholesalers and distributors reaching out to us, especially for the women’s side because it’s hard to find good quality women’s workwear,” she says. “We’ve been really focused on the southern part of Ontario, but now we have a lot of people from out west reaching out, and we have a fashion show coming up in B.C. for safety wear for women.”

    Zeppetella, who started at Brock in Business Communication, says she changed majors when she realized how keen she was on media policy and research. These interests and her training have served her well as she has grown more involved in the family business over the past few years, looking at how Zeppsgear might be mandated and thinking creatively about how to get her father’s innovations into broad use.

    Cecily’s experiences in applying policy and research ideas from her CPCF degree really resonates with me,” says Associate Professor Karen L. Smith in the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film. “I have seen first-hand that Cecily leverages both classroom and co-curricular opportunities to develop innovative ideas, like enhancing worker safety through Zeppsgear.”

    Zeppetella believes that community involvement should be a big part of any entrepreneurial journey. She says she has worked hard to involve Zeppsgear with different organizations, charities and safety training programs, and has jumped at opportunities to engage, including at Brock.

    “In the Goodman School of Business, Zeppsgear was studied by one of the marketing classes in 2021 as a case study,” she says. “For a startup, I think it’s really important to be connected, especially to growing minds and youth for perspective — and you never know who you’re going to meet.”

    Watch the full Zeppsgear pitch on the Dragons’ Den website.

    Written by Amanda Bishop

    Categories: News

  • Brock TV Render This is BACK!

    Are you a future film maker looking for an opportunity to create…and possibly win prizes?  Not a film maker, but wish to support your fellow Badgers?  Either way, this event is for you!

    Important dates:

    September 29th Students can start signing up in groups of 3-5 people

    October 12th Deadline to have your group

    October 13th Video brief is sent out to participants

    October 27th Deadline to submit the video

    November 8th Film screenings and awards!!

    First Prize $500 gift card of your choice

    Second Prize $250 gift card of your choice

    Audience Choice Award $200 gift card of your choice

    Please use this link for more information about the event!

    Categories: Events

  • Chair’s Welcome Message


    Greetings Incoming and Returning CPCF Students –

    I would like to start the 2023-2024 academic year with a very warm welcome. You are joining – or perhaps returning to – a unique department. Communication, Popular Culture and Film brings together a wide range of topics and approaches to the study, research and general critical exploration of these three intertwined disciplines. And what could be timelier in the era of unprecedented realities such as artificial intelligence, fake news and climate change?

    I often think and talk about the fact that it is communication, in all its forms, that underlies everything. At a broad level, this means that how we understand ourselves, others, the world – it is all communication. At a narrower level, there is no job, no career, and no graduate discipline that does not involve communication. In other words, the time you spend in CPCF will serve you very well no matter where life takes you. Yes, CPCF is the place to be!
    So, whether you are graduating this fall or spring – or you are just starting your CPCF voyage and will graduate years from now – we are glad that you are here. You are part of an ever-growing community of engaged scholarship and people who care deeply about the vital importance of communication, popular culture and film.

    Jennifer Good, Chair and Associate Professor

  • Jennifer Good discusses how humanity’s relationship with heat impacts climate action

    This article written by Jennifer Good, Associate Professor of Communication, Popular Culture and Film, originally appeared in The Conversation.

    Humans are a species borne of the heat, as hot and dry temperatures played a key role in our evolution, and many of us (at least in the United States) prefer to be in the heat.

    We as a species have known for decades that the carbon-fuelled actions of some nations meant that devastating heat and related extreme weather events were coming.

    And yet, most of us did nothing.

    The summer of 2023’s unprecedented forest fires, floods and rising ocean temperatures are the consequences of collective inaction and while there are many reasons for these failures to act, humanity’s complex relationship with heat is arguably a critical one.

    The comfort, and dangers, of heat

    At a fundamental level, heat is what allows for humans and the Earth’s biological diversity to exist. A stable core body temperature facilitates human survival and the greenhouse effect facilitates all life on Earth. However, while heat may be essential to life, and desirable to many, too much heat is devastating.

    One way to articulate this complex balance has been to use the metaphor of a fever. If a human’s body temperature increases even a couple of degrees, then an illness is likely occurring. If a person’s core body temperature increases only three to four degrees celsius it can be fatal. Likewise, a rise in planetary temperatures above just 1.5 C could be equally fatal.

    A seemingly easy to understand threshold. However, in practice, communicating a 1.5 C tipping point has been extremely challenging. Humans generally struggle with disentangling short-term daily temperatures from a long-term climatic shift and as a result fluctuations in temperature have been easily misunderstood. And confusion over these questions are readily misused to question the veracity of an anthropogenically induced changing climate.

    All under one greenhouse?

    An early attempt at circumventing our innate fondness for heat in climate change communications was through leveraging the term greenhouse effect — a phrase which notably removes heat from the equation altogether.

    Knowledge of the greenhouse effect goes back to the mid-19th century. In the latter half of the 20th century, the term became an evocative label for what the burning of fossil fuels was doing to the planet.

    But the term is inaccurate.

    The greenhouse effect is the well-established phenomenon of the Earth’s atmosphere trapping the sun’s radiation and allowing the planet to be a warm and hospitable place. Using the greenhouse effect as a term referring to the warming of the planet due to the burning of fossil fuels conflated a naturally occurring and well-established phenomenon with an unfolding anthropogenic disaster to confusing results.

    In response to this limitation, global warming increasingly became the terminology of choice for the changing climate — phasing out the banal inadvertent climate modification which had also been in use since the 1970s. So much so that by the 1990s, it became the single most used term. But this also had challenges.

    Warming has a certain coziness and as climate change researchers Julia Corbett and Jessica Durfee highlighted, ‘global warming needs a more salient metaphor that emphasizes its seriousness, immediacy and scientific credibility.’

    Global warming was also a narrow term, as global average temperature increases would cause a range of extreme weather effects

    In response to these limitations, the term climate change gradually came to replace global warming as the most widely accepted and used descriptor. Though more recently, this somewhat benign term has been altered again by some to more accurately address the urgency of the situation.

    For example, in 2019 The Guardian moved from using climate change to the terms climate emergency, crisis or breakdown in response to climatic effects of ever-increasing severity.

    This confused discourse has led to even further confusion and arguably hampered climate change mitigation efforts for decades.

    Too much of a good thing

    Research indicates that in the summer of 2022, over 60,000 people in Europe alone died from extreme heat. July 2023 was the hottest month ever recorded and it is increasingly looking like 2023 will be the hottest year on record. Heat-related deaths are mounting and the heat is being exacerbated by raging fires and extreme ocean temperatures.

    Human beings, alongside all life, exist on Earth because of a delicate celestial balance of gasses that trap the sun’s warmth. For millions of years, this greenhouse effect has made Earth a miraculously habitable orb in the coldness of space.

    While all human beings have a complex — and often positive — relationship with heat, in the Northern Hemisphere it is something which many of us particularly crave. However, the reckless pursuit of it (among other comforts) through the burning of fossil fuels has turned heat from a source of life to a harbinger of doom for all.

    It is only through confronting this complex relationship — by accepting the inherent dangers of more heat — that we can hope to seriously pursue real action on fossil fuel emissions.

    Categories: News

  • CPCF mourns the loss of Professor Emeritus William “Bill” Hull

    The Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film mourns the death of Professor Emeritus William “Bill” Henry Nelles Hull, who passed away Wednesday, Nov. 2 at the age of 93.  

    In the early 1980s, Hull was one of the founders of the Interdisciplinary Program in Communication Studies from which the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film (CPCF) evolved following a merger with Film Studies more than two decades ago.

    Hull retired from Brock’s Department of Politics, as it was then known, in 1995. He was a major scholar in Canadian and Comparative media policy, especially in the area that used to be known as “broadcasting policy.”

    To learn more about Bill Hull and his impact on Brock University, please read The Brock News article.

    His funeral will take place on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 11 a.m. in St George’s Anglican Church in St Catharines. Reception to follow.

    Categories: News

  • Communication grads credit experiential learning for quick career success

    Ben Skippen (BA ’20) is one of several graduates from Brock’s Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film (CPCF) translating theory and skills training from their degrees into growing careers.

    The Media and Communication Studies alumnus returned to campus for Wednesday’s legacy Convocation ceremony, travelling from Ottawa, where he began working shortly after graduation.

    A woman in a blue robe sits in front of a blue background holding red flowers.

    Media and Communication graduate Kristal Lee (BA ’22)

    Skippen landed full-time work as an army public affairs officer, first at the Royal Canadian Navy Headquarters and presently on the Military Personnel Command public affairs team at the National Defence Headquarters.

    “My degree was useful and relevant to the work I do,” Skippen says. “Homework examples like creating a communications plan, social media, news articles and presentations are all skills I use on the job.”

    He isn’t alone in crediting the experiential side of his education with his career success.

    Media and Communication grad Kristal Lee (BA ’22) now works in Hong Kong as a Digital Content Executive managing search-engine optimization, content creation and performance assessment of different platforms to assist her marketing team.

    “I think the best course and the course I have gained the most from is COMM 4F00, which gave me a chance to gain experiences before graduation,” says Lee. “This was a very precious opportunity for me to get what I wanted to learn and try to put the knowledge to work.”

    A woman in a white shirt stands in front of a grey background.

    Business Communication graduate Claire Terrio (BA ’21)

    Claire Terrio (BA ’21) majored in Business Communication and converted her CPCF internship at Framar in Niagara Falls into a job as a Social Media Specialist for the company, marketing to 1.1 million followers across platforms through creative content creation. She says she learned how to integrate marketing in CPCF.

    “Having a marketing mindset when approaching every task I’m assigned at work has helped me immensely to think strategically with the brand’s identity, positioning and goals in mind,” says Terrio, who is now pursuing a master’s degree in Professional Communication at Toronto Metropolitan University. “This marketing background has given me an edge and made my transition from working on assignments to working on real marketing campaigns fairly seamless, which I am grateful for.”

    Donnicia Ellis-Dawson (BA ’21), who majored in Business Communication and minored in Tourism, says she didn’t know how well her degree had prepared her until she was on the job.

    “What I loved about the Business Communication program is that it’s so broad, you have the chance to study multiple different career paths like marketing, human resources and event planning all within your four years,” says Ellis-Dawson, who now works as an assistant in the unscripted content department at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). “Not only that, but Media Communications overlaps with the program, allowing you to learn about journalism, public relations and more.”

    A woman in a beige blazer and black shirt stands in front of a beige background.

    Business Communication graduate Donnicia Ellis-Dawson (BA ’21)

    Adjunct Professor Kate Cassidy has helmed the CPCF internship course, COMM/FILM/PCUL 4F00, for the past six years. She says that a greater need for communication professionals has given Brock CPCF grads a chance to shine in the job market.

    Indeed, this year, many were hired even before graduating.

    “During the pandemic, the shift to remote work and digital channels significantly increased the need for tech-savvy employees with strong communication skills,” says Cassidy. “Graduates with expertise in business communications, media and film are in high demand.”

    She also believes the networking, professional skill-building and reflective practice connected to experiential learning helps students stand out to potential employers.

    “As hiring has gotten more competitive recently, I have had employers reach out to me to help them get in touch with my CPCF students,” says Cassidy. “They’re seeking out grads who have communication skills along with workplace experience.”

    Categories: News

  • 2022 Grant Dobson Case Competition – Open!

    Winners of this competition are recognized by fellow students and industry professionals as possessing superior creativity, and demonstrating excellent presentation skills.

    Start putting your teams together!

    To learn more click here.

    Categories: Events

  • Oct. 22 – Essential Cinema Series at The Film House

    NEW this year!

    Presented by The Film House in collaboration with the Brock University Communication, Popular Culture, and Film Student Society (CPCFSS), Essential Cinema brings student-lead programming to the Niagara Region. The Essential Cinema program has allowed Brock University students the opportunity to compile their list of must-see movies. These are films that fall across many genres, time periods, and cultures, but have one thing in common — they should be seen at least once in our lives. Every month, two films from this curated list will be screened at The Film House in downtown St. Catharines, and will be preceded with a short presentation by the student programmers.

    October features:
    An American Werewolf in London
    Sat., Oct. 22, 2022 6:00 p.m

    Sat., Oct. 22, 2022 9:00 p.m.

    Categories: Events

  • Film students zoom in on festivals for experiential education project

    Fresh off the media circus of Venice and the Oscar buzz of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), a group of third-year Brock film students is about to get elbow-deep in the film festival landscape.

    The students in Assistant Professor Jon Petrychyn’s Issues in Canadian Cinema course this semester will not only learn about the rich history of Canadian film festivals but also pitch their own festival and complete a mock grant application for funding using the expert advice of industry professionals.

    A raft of 10 guest speakers from festivals and funding bodies will provide insight into the triumphs, challenges and inner workings of the film festival landscape from Vancouver to St. John’s — knowledge that will inform students’ projects in the course as well as their future forays into the industry.

    Petrychyn is a film festival researcher and organizer who is currently in the throes of a research project on queer, feminist and antiracist film festivals in Canada in the 1980s and ’90s that aims to “trace the history and relationship between activist movements and broader changes in the media arts sector.”

    He believes the experiential components of the course will help bring both the history and the current scene to life.

    “We talk a lot about how festivals get organized, how they get funded and how these activist groups intersect with each other, too,” he says. “I think it’s easy for us to see that there are identity-based media arts organizations and identity-based activist groups and not think about how they overlap, so we look at that specifically through festivals as a lens.”

    Fourth-year Film major Arielle Hounsham-Lalande, who is also completing an internship placement through the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film in the Film Programming office of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, says she feels like the course was “made for” her.

    “This course is specifically about Canadian film festivals, which some may say seems very niche,” says Hounsham-Lalande. “But there’s actually a wealth of knowledge you can get specifically from that, because Canada has some of the oldest film festivals in North America.”

    She adds that hearing from guests is one of her favourite aspects of the class.

    “Not only is it networking and experience with Q&A, but we’re also learning so much from industry professionals and getting different perspectives, depending on the size and the location of their festival,” she says. “Doing it on Microsoft Teams is excellent because it allows people from all over to come and speak to us.”

    Petrychyn says the skills students will build in preparing their assignments will carry forward, whether they are interested in working with festivals or not.

    “These are very transferable skills — learning how to collaborate, learning how to pitch an idea or a project,” says Petrychyn. “There are opportunities here for students to learn and hone different skills, different types of writing and different types of collaboration.”

    As the current President of the student-run CPCF Society, which organizes professional, cultural and social events for students in the department, Hounsham-Lalande can already see how she might draw on this experience now and in her future.

    “The pitch is encouraging you creatively, and then it pairs with the mock grant application, which really drives home the idea that almost everything in the arts in Canada specifically is government-funded to a certain extent,” she says. “It lets people know what funding is out there, the process to get it and the skills that you need — and you can take those skills with you wherever you go.”

  • August 24 – 27: Mighty Niagara Film Festival

    The 2022 edition of the Mighty Niagara Film Festival (MNFF) is upon us, and this year one of the featured artists and honoured guests will be St. Catharines’ own Richard Kerr, a filmmaker and installation artist who first studied filmmaking at Sheridan College in the 1970s, and whose filmography dates back to 1976.

    Kerr began as a documentary filmmaker working in the observational style, but over time his work became more narrative-based, and eventually highly experimental – quite literally so: many of Kerr’s projects involve experiments with the materiality of film’s technologies.

    Kerr’s The Demi-Monde is a media installation that will screen nightly during the duration of the MNFF, August 24-27, beginning at sunset at the old Towne Cinema in downtown St. Catharines (280 St. Paul Street).

    This will be followed by two screenings of Kerr’s work – one focusing on early works like Canal (1981) – which deals with Kerr’s memories of his childhood along the Welland Canal – and one focusing on Kerr’s most recent film, Field Trip (2022).

    Part One of this retrospective will take place Friday the 26th of August at the RiverBrink Art Museum (116 Queenston St, Queenston, ON L0S 1L0), beginning at 7:00 pm.

    Part Two of this retrospective will take place Saturday the 27th of August at the Film House (250 St Paul St, St. Catharines, ON L2R 3M2) at 4:00 pm, with a Q & A hosted by Anthony Kinik, Associate Professor, Film Studies to follow at Mahtay Café, across the street, immediately following the screening.

    Categories: Events