Holly Willis is a research professor in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, where she also serves as the Chair of the Media Arts + Practice Division. MA+P offers a rigorous and creative environment for scholarly innovation as students explore the intersection of cinema, design, new media and critical thinking while defining new modes of research and scholarship for the 21st century. Willis is also the co-founder of Filmmaker Magazine, dedicated to independent filmmaking; she is the editor of The New Ecology of Things (Art Center, 2007), a book about ubiquitous computing; and she is the author of New Digital Cinema: Reinventing the Moving Image (Wallflower Press, 2005), which chronicles the advent of digital filmmaking tools and their impact on contemporary media practices, as well as Fast Forward: The Futures of the Cinematic Arts (Wallflower Press, 2016). She publishes a column on contemporary film schools for Filmmaker Magazine, and writes frequently about experimental film, video and new media and new directions in teaching and learning.
Holly Willis is the Chair of the recently created Media Arts + Practice Division in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. The new division is home to both BA and PhD programs, as well as a Minor in Digital Studies, an Honors in Multimedia Scholarship program, and a graduate certificate in Digital Media and Culture.
Dr. Willis is the editor of The New Ecology of Things (Art Center College of Design, 2007), a collection of essays, words, images and fiction that grapples with the potential and design challenges of pervasive computing. The book is one component within a transmedia publication that brings together cell phone videos, a Web site, and other media elements to embrace new forms of reading, writing and design.
In 2005, Dr. Willis published New Digital Cinema: Reinventing the Moving Image (Wallflower Press), which chronicles the advent of digital filmmaking tools and their impact on contemporary media practices. The book grew out of her experience as editor of RES Magazine, a bimonthly publication devoted to experiments in film, video and new media. During her five-year tenure at RES, Dr. Willis helped redirect and redesign the publication and oversaw the addition of a curated, full-length DVD with each issue. As the co-curator of RESFEST, the company’s acclaimed traveling festival of digital media, Dr. Willis helped program dozens of screenings of music videos and design shorts for an international audience, and was invited to speak about this work at festivals and museums worldwide.
In 2016, Dr. Willis published Fast Forward: The Future(s) of the Cinematic Arts, which investigates a full range of contemporary creative practices dedicated to the future of mediated storytelling. The books is based on interviews with a new generation of filmmakers, screenwriters, technologists, media artists and designers to discover how they work now, and toward what end. From Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin’s exploration of VR spherical filmmaking to Rebeca Méndez’s projection and installation work exploring climate change to the richly mediated interactive live performances of the collective Cloud Eye Control, the book captures a moment of creative evolution and sets the stage for imagining the future(s) of the cinematic arts.
Dr. Willis’ other endeavors include co-founding Filmmaker: The Magazine of Independent Film in 1992, a publication for which she served as West Coast Editor until 1999, when she joined the editorial staff at iFilm. She has also served as an editor and acquisitions team member at Voyager (home of the Criterion Collection); editor for the Website Really Good Films; and catalog editor for numerous festivals. Her other curatorial endeavors include ‘New Cities/New Media,’ a five-part screening series of videos grappling with urban space; ‘Race in Digital Space Digital Salon’ (co-curated with Steve Anderson), two programs of digital media and live music events exploring issues of race; and ‘Interactive Frictions’ (co-curated with Marsha Kinder), a show of interactive media installations at USC’s Fisher Gallery. She currently co-curates USC’s ongoing ‘Blur and Sharpen’ screening series, held in conjunction with the Institute for Multimedia Literacy.
Over the last decade, Dr. Willis has also been an active instructor throughout Los Angeles, teaching classes on film, video and new media at the University of Southern California, California Institute of the Arts and Art Center College of Design, among other schools.
In addition to editing, teaching and curating, Dr. Willis has been a prolific journalist, focusing on experimental media art. She has interviewed more than 300 film and video artists and chronicled developments in digital media over the last decade, contributing to a wide range of publications, including artist’s catalogs, Web sites, essay collections and magazines.
Dr. Willis holds a Ph.D. in Critical Studies in Cinema-Television from the University of Southern California; her dissertation was on experimental media practices by women.