Synergy and the MFA

Synergy and the MFA

[flickr id=”8099106422″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”none”]

On my way to class, I heard a kid shout, “doggie, doggie!” I looked around thinking, “Someone has got a lot of kids on set.” I’m a director. I think in scenes. Anyway, I turn around and there in front of me is a train of kiddies walking in pairs, holding hands, on the way to the daycare across the street from my classes. What I really saw was a group cooperating—one little hand blindly leading another. It’s not unlike making a film.

[flickr id=”8099113439″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”none”]

That had me thinking about projects here. Columbia College Chicago emphasizes the collaborative aspect of film, and that is a wonderful thing. But, I also know as an artist, as a director, we often want to resist compromising our artistic vision. When I conceive, write, storyboard, and pitch an idea, aren’t I the expert? Shouldn’t it be my way or the high way? I say maybe. If you’re Hitchcock, or Spielberg, or Lee, or even Perry, you may get away with it. But when you’re a student, this is the time to listen. It’s the time to have creative conviction and still compromise for the good of the project. We have to put our egos aside to achieve synergy. There is no other way to make something greater than the sum of its parts.

[flickr id=”8099153362″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”none”]

Graduate school is a chance to develop or refine your craft while building solid relationships. Unfortunately, ego and pride often make these two years a time to tarnish a reputation before it’s built. I’m saying this because it’s so important to use this time to our advantage. The project I’m working on now probably wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for the producer from the Film & Video – Creative Producing MFA program I’m working with. She offers valuable insight, advice, and support to help me fulfill my vision. How did I figure this out? I listened.

The reality is we probably won’t sell anything to the top Hollywood creative executives while in school. It’s not to say we don’t have the talent or the material, but we probably don’t have the contacts. Unless you catch a famous Hollywood “break”, you’ll have to scratch and claw your way up the ladder. Guess who you’ll be fighting and scratching with? The people you’re in class with right now. They’ll be the one’s getting internships and assistant jobs along side you. They’ll be the one’s that you commiserate with over drinks as you dream about being featured in the Next Gen issue of the Hollywood Reporter. They should be considered your strongest allies, partners forged through shared experience and mutual respect.