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ALUM SPOTLIGHT – TYRA FORBES

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What is your current job? What are some of the jobs you have had since your time at Cinema?

I am currently a digital loader for the Apple TV+ show Swagger. Since I’ve graduated from Cinema, I’ve mainly been a production assistant on a few commercials and tv shows. Most of my time outside of school has been spent working on the project I am currently on.

How have the skills you learned from your time in Cinema help prepare you for your current job?

Having a base level knowledge of what the equipment is called that we are using and the lingo used on set has helped me immensely. There is already such a culture shock from being on a professional set where so much is happening at any given time that I believe having any information before stepping into that world helped ease some of my anxieties.

What is your favorite summer intensive memory?

I remember on the last day of This is For Horses, me and a few classmates were stargazing during our lunch (it was that late). It was a very nice calm among the storm and a lovely last day of set for my senior Summer Intensives.

What do you think is the most crucial part of Cinema?

I think that Summer Intensives is the most important part of Cinema. You get to practice a lot of the theory that you are taught in class. It allows you to start to have an understanding of what being on set and working in the film industry is actually like.

What was the transition from school to working in the industry like?

I feel like for me, it was fairly easy. I know that is not the case for most people, but I was only unemployed for about a month before I landed a job on Swagger and I have been on set ever since. As for the workload difference between school and an actual film job, I feel like if you pay attention while at VCU, you will be more than prepared to tackle the film world.

What was your favorite movie you saw for the first time through Cinema?

I think my favorite movie I saw through Cinema was An Oversimplification of Her Beauty. I had never seen a Terence Nance film before and seeing a film by a black director that also mixed so many mediums of art was mind-blowing to me.

What part of Cinema helped prepare you the most for the real world?

Actually getting to be on set as a student helped prepare me for the real world. It was a good introduction to the chaos that comes with working on a set. Cinema does a good job of emulating a professional set as much as it can. So I was not completely lost when it came to stepping onto my first big job.

What Cine Club, Cinematheque, etc. film has impacted your style as a filmmaker?

I touched on this before, but the film that has impacted me the most from Cinematheque is An Oversimplification of Her Beauty by Terence Nance. It was a fairly modern film made by a black director, something that had not been shown a lot before by the program. It was interesting to see an experimental film made by a person of color. I’m not quite sure why it has stuck with me all of this time, but I remember feeling like a breath of fresh air in the midst of all of the other Cinematheque movies at the time.

Did you study anything else at VCU? If so, how have those subjects helped you in the real world?

I had a Media Studies and an English double minor. They have not helped me on the shows in the departments I have worked on, but I have seen how they would help in other departments or jobs within the entertainment industry. I will say that I used Photoshop from my Media Studies minor as an office PA.

Tyra Forbes and Olivia Dinman on the set of VCUarts Cinema’s “Macbreezy”