Deciding to go to film school was almost a fluke. I had always enjoyed watching movies and found myself more fascinated by how things worked behind the camera than simply what I saw on screen. But I had never dreamed of seeing my name in the credits. I honestly started out as a Psychology and Political Science major at Pepperdine. Due to many things, I decided to not return for my sophomore year and took a semester off. I applied to The University of Texas for lack of an idea as to where I really wanted to finish school. The application asks what your major will be. Naturally, your major at UT determines which college you go to and if you get in or not. I decided a film major sounded interesting. And honestly, I figured homework would be a lot of movie-watching.
I was accepted and then deemed a Radio-Television-Film major. In the lower division classes there was quite a bit of movie-watching homework. These first classes had me studying narrative structure, the 180-degree rule, characteristics of various genres, and an overall intro into various forms of media in general. The classes, at the time, seemed entirely dull and pointless. However, as I got into more advanced classes, they proved to be useful.
The next level of classes taught the basics of the technical aspects of filmmaking. Not simply how to use a camera, but how to set up lighting, script breakdown, budgeting, scheduling, even how to build and decorate a set.
The first class in which I got to make a project of any value was Studio Production 1. The class was split into two portions: one taught field techniques that would prove useful for documentaries and the other was about the three-camera studio set-up that would be more akin to television.
After this class I knew I had no desire to be a documentary filmmaker. I love to watch them, but making one was just not enjoyable. I also learned that I loved the studio set-up. I enjoyed building a set and decorating it. Those were the sorts of creative choices I wanted to make. I didn’t want to direct or be a cinematographer; I didn’t want to be in charge of sound or lighting. I felt passionate about the art and producing side of things. Seeing what needed to be done and making sure it was accomplished on time was somehow fun to me. Perhaps I am sadistic, but I had no problem staying up until the wee hours of the morning and returning before the sun rose. That is when I knew that being a film major was the right choice and no longer a fluke.
After I figured out the parts of film I was most passionate about, I was able to shape the rest of my schooling to focus on producing. I think that was the important part of going to film school; it gave me the chance to try out a little of everything and discover what I liked to do. With that knowledge, I was able to work on various graduate students MFA Thesis films to get a little working experience. Along the way I had an internship at a post-production company, 501 Post, and a film festival, Cinematexas. Both internships gave me some more insight into the professional side of filmmaking. The fact that neither of them was on a film proved interesting as it gave an entirely new glimpse into all that the film world encompassed.
Each step I took during film school taught me a few of the basics that would help me after graduation. They also helped me be confident that I really did want to pursue it as a career goal, which was what was most important to me. My family didn’t understand my choice, but with my growing confidence they also felt more and more comfortable with my decision.