I am lucky enough to have a project mentor who specializes in the genre of film that I am producing. I took Robert Clift’s Making the Documentary course as a 2nd year student, and learned a lot about the genre from both the filmmaker and the audience’s perspective. I reached out to Robert because he has experience making films, and I knew he could give great advice on the obstacles of longer-form documentary filmmaking. His most recent film is Making Montgomery Clift, which recounts the story of his Hollywood-famous uncle and the effect that the media has on a celebrity’s image and reputation. He made the film with his wife, and his hands-on and relatively independent way of producing a documentary reassures me that I can do the same. It also means that my mentor knows which ideas are good or bad. For example, my goal initially was to make a 60-90 minute film. While this would certainly be doable for someone or some production company, it is way more realistic to create a 20-30 minute film that is much more refined. Without Robert’s input on this and similar questions of project management, I would have had to make difficult and complex decisions on my own.
In the film industry, your entire career revolves around who you know. Maintaining a good reputation with those you have already worked with is often times good enough to have your name thrown around in bigger circles. I have taken work thanks to the recommendation of a few professors already. It is always my goal to do a good job and maintain or improve my reputation as an editor, cinematographer, assistant, or whatever it is that needs to be done. My project with the Creative Arts Fellowship is unique because it is individual, yet my goal is still the same. If I can create an impressive film and get people to watch it, then that can only help.
The Pitt Film Department is currently evolving at an incredible rate. New professors are being hired, more sections of core classes are being created, and more jobs for students and alumni are opening up. I am very fortunate to be working on a very personal project that I can take from concept to premiere. My goals after this project are to keep pushing myself into more and more creative projects. I love this project because it allows me to follow my curiosity and challenge my skillset in ways that I wasn’t even aware of when I started. Collaborating with others, especially with Pitt’s film students is an incredible way to keep on doing that.