This December, several Cinema students have graduated from VCU! We are very proud of all of our graduates and look forward to everything they will accomplish in the future.
The Cinema program is a three-year program, but some students study for an extra semester to accommodate their second major or double minors. Meet a few of our remarkable December grads!
SEWELL BREWER, CINEMA AND MARKETING B.A.
“Do what you love because your purpose in life stems from passion. In college you realize a lot of people you come across play the safe route and either are scared, or follow the path of their parents. You don’t want to live life with any regrets!”
Growing up, Sewell loved watching movies and was curious about how they were made. So, he applied to VCUarts Cinema for a closer look into the logistics behind filmmaking. Although Sewell came into the Cinema program a semester late, he says that the “people within the program were very accepting and made my transition smooth.”
While studying Cinema, Sewell gained experience in a variety of different film positions. At first, he “was pretty nervous with the jobs [he] had because it was all so new,” but now his favorite memories of the program are from being on set, and he says that “the only real way to become good at these things was from being on set.”
Along with his friend Payton Harbour, another Cinema student, Sewell founded Brewer-Harbour Productions, a production company that specializes in short films. This past spring, as part of an independent study through the Cinema program, Brewer-Harbour produced The Court, a short film about a young black man from a privileged lifestyle who moves into the hood and now has to prove himself to his peers on the basketball court. Payton wrote and edited the film, while Sewell was the director and main actor. Sewell says that The Court “explores the love and complexity within the black community through a basketball story.”
Sewell chose to double major in marketing, since “entertainment is a business and understanding how business works is imperative, especially since I want to do well and provide opportunities for others.” He combines what he learned from the Cinema and Marketing programs through his extensive extracurricular involvement. In addition to participating in the VCU Activities Programming Board, where he plans and promotes activities like movie nights and homecoming events, he is a part of Squadron Creatives, a creative brand that is currently focusing on streetwear clothing. He is also a founding member of the Sweeterman Society, which aims to better the Richmond community by building strong ladies and gentlemen. The Sweeterman Society “recently partnered with another student organization called Endeavors where we had a coat drive and gave a lot of warm clothes to the homeless.”
Sewell will apply to graduate school for acting and film in the fall. In the meantime, he plans to audition and make another short film.
To future Cinema students, Sewell says to ask questions and to “find people who you can relate to and who can help you succeed within the program.” He also says to “try out every crew related job because it helps you become well rounded, and you will discover your niche.”
JEREMY BROWN, CINEMA B.A. with minors in CREATIVE WRITING and MEDIA STUDIES
One of the biggest things that caught Jeremy’s eye about Cinema was “its attention to traditional film, and shooting on actual film on top of that as an option. I really wanted to learn how films were made professionally.”
Jeremy chose to double minor in Creative Writing and Media Studies. The two minors mixed together his love for creative fiction, nonfiction, and journalism. The combination of different areas of study challenged him and “stretched [his] imagination”.
With each Cinema program film he worked on, Jeremy progressed into more challenging film jobs, mainly in the sound and art departments. He says that the on-set learning component of the program “allowed for me to learn to work under a time crunch, and to never stop communicating and asking questions. Filmmaking is hard work, starting from the very first story pitch, all the way to distributing your final cut. And not everything is bound to go as planned.”
Outside of school, Jeremy says “I continue to work as a casting intern part-time at the Workforce Development Liaison Virginia Film Office, and I continue to assist on various short film projects and web-series content, in front of and behind-the-camera.” After graduation, Jeremy plans to “continue working on low-budget films and original web-series content. Online media is only getting stronger.”
To future Cinema students, Jeremy says to keep an open mind about all areas of filmmaking, specifically that “you might go in [to the program] wanting to do nothing but camera as much as possible, but then you might find you have more of a knack and interest in the Unit Production Manager position.” He closes by saying that “Cinema is about exploring yourself, appreciating art and working as a team. It’s also a place to make strong friendships with those who share your love for everything movies.”
CELINA WEST, CINEMA B.A. with minors in HISTORY and GENERAL BUSINESS
Celina always saw herself coming to VCU, since she likes the environment and social atmosphere of the campus and the city. At VCU, she combined her interest in the logistical aspects of filmmaking by double minoring in History and General Business. She has always been a history buff and loved the history professors at VCU. She chose the general business minor to give herself a foundation in accounting and entrepreneurship. As a business minor, Celina says she “got to take classes in all areas, which is important because I want to go into production management or coordination.”
Outside of school, Celina uses her management and coordination experience as a student worker for the Cinema program and also works at the campus Barnes and Noble. She also finds time to work with the VCUarts Deans’ Office for Diversity and Inclusion. “It’s really cool,” she says about the Office for Diversity and Inclusion. “I get to meet a lot of people from other programs, I get to talk to the Deans, and it gives me more faith in my school because they really do care what we think and they want to make this the best and safest environment so that we can do our best work possible.”
After graduation, Celina plans to continue her work with the Cinema program, and intends to remain involved with the Deans’ Office for Diversity and Inclusion.
Celina wouldn’t have changed her experience as a whole at VCU, except for balancing work and school a little better, because “that was tough.”
FRANCESCO BASTI, CINEMA and PHILOSOPHY B.A.
Francesco was attracted to VCUarts because it was tailored to his interests, since he wanted to work as an editor but also learn film theory and practice. About the program, Francesco says that “Cinema reaffirmed what I wanted to do, and has given me all the practical skills I need to succeed in the film world.”
While in the program, Francesco started a production company that specializes in videography and post-production, Iceberg Media LLC, with two other Cinema students. Since founding the company, they have worked on many projects with a lot of clients. Over the summer, they went to Poland to shoot a documentary for the Richmond Theatre Company’s performance in Krakow. Francesco says that “It was very satisfying.”
The Summer Intensives, the 15 credit summer semesters following the second and third years of the Cinema program, inspired and motivated Francesco. He says they showed him “how much of a family this program is, because we’re all forced to work together. Working together is the only way to get a good product out of our efforts, because this industry is such a collaborative industry.”
Francesco chose to double major in Philosophy, because he says philosophy “has helped me develop intellectual and communication confidence.”
Francesco has been applying to TV networks to work in post-production after graduation, and he intends to keep growing Iceberg Media LLC.
To a future Cinema student, Francesco would say “remember you’re here to learn, you know less than you think you do, and to try to learn as much as you can from as many people you can. Cinema is a very very special program, it is very unique in the way it allows students to learn, and it creates very independent, strong individuals who have the skills and drive to compete in the world, unlike any program I have seen.”
Congratulations to all of our December graduates!