Thursday, Jul 31, 2014 01:35 pm est

Day in the life: Michael Bowen

Posted on February 6, 2014 | by Nikolas Reda-Castelao

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Michael Bowen is a teaching assistant for the Film Theory undergraduate course in the Tisch School of the Arts, a graduate working on his dissertation in the Cinema Studies department and a film enthusiast whose work includes many hours spent collecting film antiques on eBay.

7:30 a.m. | After jolting himself awake with a cup of coffee, the first of many in the long day to come, Bowen will immediately power up his computer to check his emails, explaining that “a lot can happen in a night.” He scans through emails from eBay to update himself on the status of his acquisitions. Bowen studies New York independent filmmaking in the 1960s and ’70s. Much of his research revolves around collecting accessories, press books and actual footage of films from this time period, and Ebay has proved an exceptionally useful tool in his endeavors.

9 a.m. | Bowen begins his work for the day by organizing his film archives and attending to tentative interviews for his research. His collection includes hundreds of films, and he puts in his best effort to keep it organized. Because Bowen is a TA, drafting lesson plans, creating materials for his students and grading student papers take up the rest of his morning.

Noon | Bowen often works through lunchtime, either on his dissertation or, for a change of pace, editing pages on He is a frequent contributor to the pages of films that are under the jurisdiction of his research. He often finds quirky facts or trivia that make the film’s page on IMDB more interesting. Accordingly, he has made thousands of additions to the IMDB website.

3 p.m. | A surprisingly exciting part of Bowen’s day occurs in the afternoon, when the day’s mail arrives. Bowen receives his successfully acquired treasures on Ebay. A special sense of pride accompanies the arrival of these items that he beat out other collectors for. He compares it to a perpetual Christmas morning.

5 p.m. | With still so much to do, Bowen’s evening is never dull. Sometimes he ends up at the library, viewing microfilm and transcribing information to his large personal database. His research involves getting in touch with distributors and filmmakers, so he spends a lot of time making calls and returning emails. He also works to organize interesting film screenings for film students.

8 p.m. | Bowen cooks dinner as a “way of relaxing” after a trying day. He prefers to cook at home and does not go out to a restaurant unless he absolutely cannot cook with what is left in his kitchen.

Midnight | After a long day, Bowen goes to bed already excited to get back to his research the next day.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Feb. 6 print edition. Nikolas Reda-Castelao is a contributing writer. Email him at


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Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

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