Film and Media Arts Major
Currently: spring term junior
Expected graduating semester: Spring 2022
When I was thirteen I got my first Instagram account and began taking photos of my friends for fun. The more pictures I took, the more my curiosity grew. Thanks to YouTube, I learned as much as I could about how to shoot in manual, how to pose models, and which equipment to use. Going to a private school in the middle of a corn field from the age of six to 18, my life was very sheltered. One of my favorite elements of photography was that it gave me a way to explore the world outside my bubble with my parents’ approval. As my skills grew, I began to meet with people I found on Instagram to be my models, makeup artists, and stylists. By the end of high school, I realized that there was a level of storytelling I wasn’t able to reach with just still images and my interest in film making grew. When I applied to college, I knew that I wanted to be a film major even though I had no experience. Three years and many student films later, I’m glad I made that decision. During my freshman year at UT I had professor Aaron Walker who quickly became my mentor and guided me in honing my cinematography and directing skills in narrative filmmaking.
Because of my photography background, my strengths lie in cinematography, particularly in a style that is based in realism and a look that is close and intimate with the subject. As a director and cinematographer, I’ve learned the importance of preparation and planning prior to the shoot. I’ve also learned the importance of having a good AC so that I can focus equally as much on the actors’ performances as I do on the camera. My biggest discovery in directing was to not over complicate directions for my actors and to keep my instructions limited to single verbs. I realized that keeping my directions as simple as possible was less confusing for them than when I explained every thought going through my head.
I know that my journey in becoming a good filmmaker is just beginning. One area in particular that I would like to be more comfortable is lighting. Because I was a still image photographer for so long and depended only on sunlight for the light source in my images, it took me a while to take the need for lighting setups seriously in cinematography. It’s something I didn’t know anything about so I put off learning about it for the first half of my college experience. This year I have been educating myself as much as I can about lighting plans and have been working hard on implementing it on all of the films that I have been director of photography on. It’s something that I am just now getting practice with so I have a lot more work to do before I am as comfortable with directing lighting as I am with camera and actors. I would also like to gain more experience and knowledge in underwater cinematography as I have always had a love for surfing and any activity taking place in the ocean. This year I began exploring this type work after purchasing an underwater housing for my camera.
When I graduate, I hope to work at a production company in the equipment and or camera team. Beyond that, a long term goal is to be a professional director of photography on independent films. I hope to settle down somewhere close to the ocean if my career permits it but am looking forward to learning about filmmaking for the rest of my life.