Malak Krayem
Film and Media Arts ’21

Growing up in Saudi Arabia, I had little access to the world of creatives. My curiosity had me creating and editing music videos by the age of 12. However, I had to seek the knowledge outside of my reality and resorted to the world of YouTube, which taught me the base of everything I know today. The world of film that I was entering, regardless of my family’s incredible support, seemed a little foreign in the context in which I lived. But to me, this only meant that it was an open field waiting for me to make the first step into, especially as a woman filmmaker. The only issue here is that there was no one around me to collaborate with, which means I was never solely able to focus on one role in the process of filmmaking. I had to do it all from A to Z, which although taught me a lot, is no simulation of the real world.

Coming to The University of Tampa was my breakthrough from that. Being surrounded by filmmakers has finally given me the opportunity to step into the shoes of a single role. But more than often, I find myself gravitating towards being a cinematographer. One reason is that it has been difficult to let myself trust another person with my vision, and the other is that it is the thing I am praised on the most. It is also the thing I have invested the most time in mastering, which means I am skilled at it more than anything else. But when I really think about it, it just might be the last thing I want to do in the future.

When I began to recognize the fact that directing is the thing I want to do the most, yet I have never done to its full capacity, I turned to Professor Aaron Walker. Professor Walker has truly been pushing me to places I didn’t know I could go, and no better example of this is when he encouraged me to join his Creative Triangle class. For once, I had no choice but to finally surrender the camera to someone else. And while doing so as a director, suddenly everything made sense. Regardless of my discomfort when seeing another person handle the camera to my written work, I am now one step closer to accepting it.

The journey from here is to find the people I want to collaborate with for the rest of my life. Which thankfully, there is no better way to do so than in college. I am surrounded with such a diverse group of individuals with so many different interests — some of which I plan to create with for as long as I possibly can. With a dream of being a writer/director, I wholeheartedly believe that the connections I am making to UT will take me to where I want to go. Not to mention, Saudi is not ready for the breadth of knowledge I am about to bring to their game.