I connected with Neil Chudgar, who studied Philosophy for his undergrad degree. I was curious to see how Philosophy has impacted him and how he has used it to his benefit when applying to grad school and just generally how it has impacted him professionally. Once I graduate in the fall I intend on taking a few years off from school to secure myself financially before taking the next step and applying to grad schools for film production. I will begin to apply for more business-type jobs, mainly marketing positions, and will essentially sell my soul to capitalism and conform to whatever institution will pay me enough money so I can become financially independent. Hopefully, only for a few years! I’m a little bit scared entering this application process however because my degree is really not the most practical, I’m searching for the right angle to really speak to how my educational experience makes me competitive and unique to employers.
My mentor is Robert Clift, he is a professor in the film department and I took a class of his called “Making the Documentary” in the fall semester of 2019. In the period of time I felt like I was at a bit of a standstill with my own creativity and film. I initially wanted to be a screenwriter, but after a bad experience in a class, I decided that it wasn’t really for me. I was disillusioned with a film I didn’t want to work for Hollywood and didn’t feel like I could adequately honor myself and my own beliefs working within fiction film, but one avenue I had not yet explored was documentary, so I took the class. Needless to say, it was exactly what I was looking for with film. In that class I was really so excited, and was exposed to films that have actually changed my life the way I experienced and viewed film.
I really connected to Dr. Clift, because he allowed me to be creative in whatever way I needed to be in order to achieve results. He also holds me at the same high standard that I like to hold myself, without making me feel overwhelmed. He is an experienced documentarian and I really enjoy just chatting with him about really anything. When it came time to apply for the Brackenridge, I asked him to be my mentor because I figured that in two classes I took with him, he basically understood my creative process the best and has critiqued most of my work. He knows where I’m at best!
I guess If I had to give advice to anyone searching for a mentor, first understand yourself. Understand what type of people you click with and how you like to get results. Then think about all the things you don’t know and what you would like to find out. Follow your curiosity, don’t be afraid of looking dumb or asking questions- everyone is in idiot about something, and welcome the unfamiliar. Will this mentor give you pieces to this puzzle in such a way that makes you feel like you have experienced growth? If the answer is yes, keep talking to them, ask more questions. One thing I like to envision is the best possible version of myself, a version who has achieved everything I dream to achieve. When you’re looking for your mentor think of the same thing, if they are someone you would like to become that’s the right person for you.
Professionally I would like to one day be a documentarian and make films for a living. I think I would like to meet more people who share a similar vision for film. I feel like I haven’t yet stumbled on a creative peer that really understands what I would like to achieve in film and would like to do the same. It would really be cool to find a community of people that see the same things I do and use film as their tool to achieve it. I feel like I have to explain myself all the time to people. I haven’t yet found a creative equal who will give me true brain food to help improve my work. I think those are the connections I would like to gain as I continue to follow my passion.