Welcome to Film School!

Welcome to Film School!

Wrap on our first short!

The 2016 Cinema Art + Science Creative Producing and Directing students

Hey y’all! My name is Sarah James and I am a first-year Creative Producing Master’s candidate. I originally hailed from the great state of Georgia—and no, I do not have a southern accent, it’s one of my best traits. As I transition from the South up to this big city life, I want to invite you to read along as I explore the city.

Our very first day of Boot camp, the first question we were asked was to identity a film that we are dying to remake, a film that had suffered some gross injustice that we felt needed rectifying.
Right away I knew exactly what my answer would be. While it might not be conducive to discuss my issues with a certain Peter Jackson film here—I did learn a powerful lesson from the exercise. I knew right then and there, I was in the right place. Surrounded by kids that shared the same passion and drive I did. But FIRST, lets back track a little and talk about how I got here.




Getting into Film School

A topic no one seems to be talking about—getting into a program like Columbia’s Cinema Art and Science. While I can’t speak for my entire cohort, I can at least tell you of my experience! After graduating from The University of Georgia in Athens, GA, I had a very small view of the film world. Yes, I did graduate with two film degrees—Film Production and Film Studies. And yet, I didn’t know where to start when applying to schools. The most valuable thing I learned, ASK. Ask anyone you know and trust. Do some research. Know each school you plan to apply to in and out. Know who the notable alumni are and most importantly, know who the professors are that will be teaching you.

I did my research and ended up applying to 8 schools, all of which were Top 20 Film Schools. In the end I ended up being accepted to 7 of those schools. I don’t say that to boost my ego, but I rather to explain why I chose to pack up my entire life and move to Chicago, IL. I knew from the get go, I wanted to get out of Georgia and into a big city (other than Hot-Lanta!). I toured as many schools as I could while still working on my undergrad as well. I met with as many people as I possibly could. I set up coffee with professors, admins, counselors, you name it. I wanted my name out there as much as possible while going through the admission process. And boy did it pay off!

When I made my way to Chicago (for the first time every actually), I toured three schools. I met with admissions counselors, students in their second year, etc, etc. And I immediately fell in love. With the city. Now keep in mind, I came from a very small town in rural Georgia. I’m no country gal, but I certainly don’t adhere to the city girl aesthetic either. But I knew this was where I needed to spend my graduate school years. Now, I just had to pick from the three schools. Again, I went back and did some research. I learned that all of the professors I would be studying under had extensive and impressive IMDB pages. I learned that they themselves are still very active in the film community as well as dedicated professors. This meant a lot to me. I wanted to learn from those that were in the industry NOW.

Wow—what a long winded explanation as to why I’m here at Columbia! But I can genuinely say, these have been some of the craziest, most fun, most difficult few weeks of my life. And I can’t wait for many many more! XOXO, SJ


Thanks for capturing this awkward photo, Mom.