IN HIS OWN WORDS:
2022-23 Student of the Year
Department of Theatre & Film
Where were you born and raised?
Why did you choose to study at UAF?
I want to be a screenwriter and the UAF FLPA program was an obvious choice to get started on that goal.
When did you first decide to pursue a degree in FLPA/ Theatre Concentration?
In 2019, I decided to go back to school and finish a bachelor’s degree. I had originally started as a music major many years ago, but I’m more interested in writing screenplays and seeing my stories turned into movies. In the spring of 2020, I started my first semester in the FLPA program and started to make that dream come true.
What first attracted you to film?
Like many people, when I was growing up I had love for reading, storytelling, movies, and fantasized about being a film director or actor. I never knew where to start on that journey and life took me on other paths, so years passed. When I found out there was a program at UAF that would guide me to make real that childhood fantasy – I took it.
What experiences at UAF have contributed to your academic and artistic success?
There are too many positive experiences to list here, but I cannot commend the faculty in the FLPA department enough. I remind myself daily of a statement Maya Salganek made early in my first year in FLPA. She said, “I want to unlock the inner artist I feel everyone has inside them.” The faculty in FLPA does in fact show their students the artists they are. Carrie Baker showed me how acting is vital to both professional and personal aspects. She showed me how to harness emotion and use it to embody a character. When I write a screenplay, I’m able to act out the very characters I write and that makes my story all the more real. Kade Mendelowitz showed me how to make worlds for my stories, bringing attention to every conceivable detail that brings realism to my writing and cinematography. Maya has shown me how to capture the narrative, images, and processes to make real movies.
Do you have any advice for new FLPA students?
My advice for incoming FLPA students is to truly embrace what is being taught here. Each instructor wants their students to succeed – personally, professionally, and even spiritually by developing the craft that is Theater and Film. Yes, there’s going to be homework. Yes, some of it is going to be tough, and sometimes a student may want to throw in the towel – don’t. Go to an instructor and each one will make time and effort out of a hair-pulling schedule to guide and counsel. For me, it was a simple enough task – do the work, enrich myself in the processes of filmmaking, and try to do everything to represent the teachings of my instructors to the fullest. They want me to succeed in whatever I do, and they’ll want you to do the same. I have a genuine love for the instructors in the FLPA, and I guarantee they will love you in the same manner they’ve shown me.
Please tell me about your most influential theatre or film projects while at UAF.
For me, the most influential project was writing, directing, and editing my own student film. I made several and the entire production of two of those films was done by me. I want everyone to know that I learned a very valuable lesson in why films require a collaborative effort. One person cannot be an entire film crew. Sure, doing the writing and directing, and even the editing is more than possible. I even put in my own music that I wrote and performed. With that said, I cannot overstate how important it is to have the extra hands on board to make a truly professional film. Learning to direct a film will not happen unless you bring a crew in and learn how to manage the production. The ironic thing is that I never wanted to direct since I cared only to write the screenplays. However, being given the opportunity to “do it all” was eye opening and oddly enough, made me want to direct more of my own films.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I’m currently enrolled as an MFA graduate student at Western Colorado University in their Creative Writing program in Screenwriting. This fall semester I’m working on a feature length adaption film that will be pitched to Hollywood production companies as part of the curriculum. My education in the UAF FLPA program has made me FAR MORE ADVANCED than most all my current grad school classmates. I do not exaggerate and want everyone to know my teachers at UAF made this possible by giving me the tools I needed to progress in my chosen field.