How did the skills you learned in Cinema help you in your current job?
I freelance in the local Richmond film industry as a production assistant and AC, primarily serving in the world of commercials, although I’ve also worked on everything from music videos to TV series as well as feature films. There’s a lot of great local production companies here in town that do really incredible work. In a way, working for these companies brings me back to the VCUarts Cinema mentality. Waking up at the crack of dawn to go the studio, loading up equipment for the shoot and driving a large vehicle to get to set has been a reality for me since freshman year in college and it hasn’t really stopped since then. I’m still doing the same kind of stuff.
And I love it.
Obviously, the practical nitty gritty stuff we learned in Cinema of working the equipment, production protocol and on set-etiquette all work into the day to day practice of being in the industry. But I’d say above all else, it’s the dedication, endurance and team-mindedness that I carry with me as my biggest skills taken from the program. If you wanted to have a good time in the program and actually get something out of it, these were what you had to learn.
What’s the most important aspect of Cinema?
I’d honestly say it’s being placed in close proximity with other passionate individuals and then being forcing to bond and work together over three years. If you’re lucky, you’ll find valuable creative collaborators. These relationships are what make up a livable career in this business and the friendships I’ve sustained past Cinema are some of the most meaningful ones I have in my life.
How was the transition from school to the working in the industry?
When I exited Cinema, I still felt a love for directing, writing and cinematography, and I think the most important thing to do when exiting college is to not lose the flame if you have those passions. It’s easy to do because you’ve lost your rudder and absolutely no one is going to ask you to do these jobs right away on the same scale that you were in Cinema. But you just can’t stop making stuff; whether it be short films, music videos, screenplays. Balancing the creative life with the working life is the most important thing to learn post art school and ultimately will help you so much down the road.
What was your favorite movie you saw for the first time through Cinema?
Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” on 35mm at Cinematheque was pretty life changing for me. I don’t think I ever quite felt so out of my own body as I did sitting in the Grace Street that night. I was in and out of being awake and it just felt amazing. I thought strange jungle apes were walking off the screen. It taught me a whole new way to appreciate time on screen and just how wildly flexible and un-orthodox film narratives can be.
What’s your favorite summer intensive memory?
During my final Summer, I was directing, it was day 3 of 3 and we were shooting the emotional climax of the film. In the scene, the estranged father and his daughter meet and she reaches out to hold his hand. We were shooting an insert of their hands and I was by the monitor in the other room with headphones on and I just remember feeling so in love with filmmaking at that moment. All the stress and anxiety of getting the film prepped and then shooting it left my mind. All three years of college melted away at that point and I finally was able to do what I always wanted, which was to capture this really small moment. Those moments in filmmaking are few and far between. At the time, it felt really good.
And of course, anytime after a long shoot that the camera and G/E crew hit up Cookout after set to drown our sorrows in fried food were good times. It was the moments we felt like a real family that I cherish the most.