Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Photo_F12Ambassador_BubbaMurray

Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you came to Columbia.

Ask about my background and I’ll tell you honestly, “I’m a Jack of all trades and master of few.” I know the quote is “none,” but I like to give myself credit. Having varied life experiences may not be ideal on the recession era resume, but it is what a storyteller needs to relate with audiences. I’m originally from Oak Park, IL and began working in a family business at 12. My responsibilities included teaching computer skills to laid-off workers. As an undergrad I completed studies between Morehouse College and Boston University earning a BSGS/BS in Biomedical Engineering. There I interned with NASA and researched everything from lunar colonies to manned trips to Mars. Following graduation I returned home and founded The Company Upstairs Performance Troupe. After writing, directing, and acting across Chicagoland and a stint in business school I moved to Los Angeles to work in the TV Lit department at United Talent Agency. There I focused on writing, winning the ABC Writing Fellowship, through which I was staffed on “Desperate Housewives.” In 2007 and 2010 I penned scenes for the NBC Diversity Scene Showcase. In 2008 I wrote the award winning short “Free Lunch” which screened in the prestigious 2009 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. Before attending Columbia I was selected to participate in the FOX Writing Initiative to develop my hour drama pilot, “Lost Angels.” In short, we all bring a different perspective to filmmaking. Mine is that of an African American, script writing, NASA trained, business geek.

Why did you choose Columbia for your graduate study?

About a year ago I was visiting family in Chicago mulling over what direction I wanted to take my…well…life. At the time I was living in Los Angeles pursuing a writing career but did not feel I was reaching my full potential. I knew I needed to continue my education. At that point the school search began. When considering institutions my top choices included places respected friends and colleagues had attended. Columbia College of Chicago flew to the top of the list. So what were some of the factors? To begin with I was amazed by the Media Production Center. The selection of equipment, motion capture capabilities, and fact that they have a great audition space was thoroughly impressive. I have seen many projects suffer at the audition phase so this is no trivial issue. Next we have locale. As an Oak Park, Illinois native I recognize Chicago is a major market, a beautiful city and its neighborhoods are great backdrops for storytelling. Most importantly, when I met with the faculty and staff I felt like I was joining a supportive, creative community. They focus on developing the filmmaker as a whole. We aren’t segregated into “writer” or “director.” We earn the coveted writer/director “slash.” This decision, which has consumed my life for the past year, will enable me to develop my own voice and explore my role as a fearless storyteller.

Tell us about a project you’re working on that you’re excited about.

You brush your teeth, wash your face, and then find a small bug on the edge of your pillow. You check the sheets and notice a small blood stain, then five, and then ten. Now your life has been reduced to obsessing over ridding your house of the culprits–bedbugs. Imagine all this while suffering from an obsessive compulsive disorder. This dilemma is the inspiration for my short film project called “Bedbug.”

The bedbug scourge has already cemented itself in modern cultural zeitgeist making it the perfect subject to tackle in film. My goal with the project is to challenge the audience’s idea of human control over environment while making them squirm. Because it is early in the process my focus is on outlining and scene development. Time is spent brainstorming lists of visual moments and then picking the ones that best support the theme and outline. For example, a moment may be the image of woman wrapping her mattress with plastic wrap. This visual serves as the genesis of a more complete scene, such as a desperate woman entering a room, clearing out the items piece by piece, then in a rage stripping her bed of the sheets and wrapping the mattress in plastic. Because I am not censoring my ideas this free-flow exercise allows me to quickly accumulate material. This freedom of expression leads to a deeper understanding of the project and, hopefully, a finished script.

Do you want the student perspective on the Film & Video - Cinema Directing MFA program?
Email our Ambassador at directing.mfa@colum.edu

All Good Things…

by Bubba Murray

It goes by fast doesn’t it? My time at CCC is almost at an end and so is my tenure as a Graduate Ambassador. In fact this is my last …

All Good Things…

It goes by fast doesn’t it? My time at CCC is almost at an end and so is my tenure as a Graduate Ambassador. In fact this is my last …

Film & Video - Cinema Directing MFA Bubba Murray, james.murray2@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Big Mouth

by Bubba Murray

I love working on projects with people from Columbia College Chicago. Mainly because after this week I can scratch off one more “to do” thingy from the bucket list. I …

Big Mouth

I love working on projects with people from Columbia College Chicago. Mainly because after this week I can scratch off one more “to do” thingy from the bucket list. I …

Film & Video - Cinema Directing MFA Bubba Murray, james.murray2@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Summer Inspiration

by Bubba Murray

It’s summer in Chicago. Without having to go to class, I’ve had a few moments to think about what motivates me as an artist. One of the elements at the …

Summer Inspiration

It’s summer in Chicago. Without having to go to class, I’ve had a few moments to think about what motivates me as an artist. One of the elements at the …

Film & Video - Cinema Directing MFA Bubba Murray, james.murray2@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Good and Cheesies

by Bubba Murray

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. This is a great time to explore the city and try new things. I recently had the opportunity to go into the city …

Good and Cheesies

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. This is a great time to explore the city and try new things. I recently had the opportunity to go into the city …

Film & Video - Cinema Directing MFA Bubba Murray, james.murray2@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Lovin’ Summer

by Bubba Murray

“Umm…Jewel is down the street, I can buy eight dollars worth of fancy cheese and make about twenty sandwiches at home.”

Lovin’ Summer

“Umm…Jewel is down the street, I can buy eight dollars worth of fancy cheese and make about twenty sandwiches at home.”

Film & Video - Cinema Directing MFA Bubba Murray, james.murray2@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Wide “Awake”

by Bubba Murray

An inexperienced director will they try to shoot everything he/she can think of and wind up getting nothing.

Wide “Awake”

An inexperienced director will they try to shoot everything he/she can think of and wind up getting nothing.

Film & Video - Cinema Directing MFA Bubba Murray, james.murray2@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605