Movie of the Week: PHD Movie 2 – Still in Grad School

This week when I got home, I received my reward for crowdfunding the PHD Movie 2, that is, I received my DVDs of both movies, so naturally I wasted no time in watching the second one. If you have been paying attention here, you know that I’ve been pretty excited about this, right?

This second movie deals with 2 different main issues. From one hand, Cecilia (Alexandra Lockwood) needs to graduate ASAP, mainly because her advisor is leaving on sabbatical, so she deals with the problems of writing the thesis, procrastination, finding a thesis committee, managing all the conflicting schedules and ego issues, etc. On the other hand, Winston (Raj Katti) goes away with his group for his first field conference and has to deal with the pressure of doing better than the other groups and competing for funding.

I really liked this movie, though not as much as the first one. I did like the themes and the resolutions. I even cried! Winston’s collaboration with his rival lab to make an essential contribution to science moved me. But the high point of the movie for me was watching real footage of Alexandra Lockwood’s graduation! Yes, she is already a PhD! 😀

My biggest problem with this movie was the time frame. Essentially everything happens within a week or so, so while Winston is away at the super long conference, Cecilia realizes that she has to write a thesis, she actually writes it with several corrections from her professor, finds a committee and a date, defends her thesis AND has a graduation ceremony… in the meanwhile the conference is still going on. I didn’t like that! It’s the most unreal thing ever that they’ve done in the movies or comics…

It still left me pretty emotional… 😥 Oh, and I totally saw that ending coming… after how the first movie ended, I thought it was pretty obvious!


The PHD Movie 2: Poster and Screenings

If you’ve been following me for a while now, you know that I’m quite excited about the upcoming movie The PHD Movie 2. You probably don’t know what it is about, because frankly, most people that actually read the PHD Comics are grad students, but I digress… PHD Comics is this great site with (as you might have guessed) grad school related strips, you can check it out here.

In 2011 they decided to do a movie with some themes from the comics and so The PHD Movie was born. I love it. It’s short, and it’s likely that it won’t appeal to people outside of Academia, but it does give a great sarcastic view of this world, and it made me (humble graduate student at the time, feel less alone). In 2014 a kickstarter for a sequel was launched and the goals were met – I’m a proud backer!

So I’m super happy that the movie is almost coming out, and that I can share the poster, trailer and screenings with you guys.

Go here for the screenings page – I’m just sad that they won’t be screening the movie in Spain, but no worries, I’ll get my movie in the mail soon enough!

PhD Movie: Kickstarter for a sequel

Do you know! If you don’t, you should definitely check it out. If you already know it, you know how awesome and sometimes scarily acurate they can be.

In 2011, they did an independent movie based on the comics. “The PHD Movie, based on Piled Higher and Deeper (, featured real grad students and scientists in many of the lead roles (including producer and director), and was screened at over 500 Universities and Research Centers worldwide (including Antarctica!) during its release.”

In the beginning of this month, its creator Jorge Cham, announced that they were starting a kickstarter campaign in order to found a sequel: The PHD Movie 2: Still in Grad School. And I think that it’s a brilliant idea, and for the first time ever contributed to a campaign.


During this month, you can watch the first movie free on their website: phdmovie.

If you’re a grad student or part of academia somehow, you can relate to some or most of the topics in this movie, here are some key points:

  • Some subjects are tabu: “So, how’s research going? Don’t you know you’re never supposed to ask a grad student that question? It’s just rude!” “How’s your thesis going?” “Come on, why don’t you ask her weight and age while you’re at it! Gosh!!!”
  • You’ll sometimes feel like an imposter: “I’ll let you in on a little secret: around here, everyone is an imposter”
  • It’s OK to have no idea what to do afterwards: “I mean, what happens when I graduate? I can’t get a professor job anywhere. These jobs only open up when someone dies.” “I can’t go into industry. What have I been working all this time for? I’d be selling out, like… like…” “Like a regular person?”

  • “You don’t get credit for having a life.” – You should still try to have one and not feels guilty all the time.
  • You might think that you failed your professor, but remember… “he probably doesn’t think about you that much.”

  • You publish or you perish… “You ever wonder what the point is?” “Eh. Not really.” “I mean about this research we do. We publish so that people can give us more money so that we can do more research so that we can publish more! Ad infinitum!” “Ad nauseum.” “See, I thought that I was gonna be working on big problems, but it seems like I’m just working on a subproblem of a subproblem of a subproblem.” “We’re all just research tools.” “I don’t wanna be here forever, like…, like…” “Me?”

  • Cynicism is key! “Nobody believes anything in academia. That’s the whole point. Evidence is king. The only thing you take for granted is that there’ll be another grant.” 
  • You’re there because you want to! “Life is tough. And then you graduate. Everybody’s here because they want to be here. There’s nothing reasonable about pursuing a life of reason.”

  • You are NOT ALONE! “It’s easy in research to get tunnel vision. You feel isolated, like you’re the only person with your problem. But the truth is” “you’re not alone. But whenever I get stressed I just ask myself the question:” “Do I really care?” “Would I rather be doing anything else? You’re not a machine. You have to embrace the things you’re passionate about.” “Every great idea, every great moment of “Eureka!”, came when It was least expected. Google,” “Facebook, Newton and gravity, Einstein and relativity, all of these things happened when they weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing. When they were following their passion.” “Procrastinating.”

  • In which 50% do you wanna be? “Are you guys graduate students? This is for my thesis. I’m studying why there’s a fifty percent dropout rate amongst PhD students. That means that two out of every four graduate students will never graduate. But I know that there’re a lot of issues that I should be really concerned about, especially as a graduate student, because, you know, no one’s really going to be you advocate. So. How’s Research?”