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Chelsea Rowan
Cinema Art + Science – Cinema Directing MFA

I love being creative, and creativity is flexible! While I knew I always wanted to work in a creative field, I knew I didn’t ever want to limit myself. In film, I am a storyteller. I tell stories through writing and visualization. I am also a collaborator and problem solver. I understand that my creative capacity is not limited to telling stories, but also working as a team player, working towards a goal, and creating the final product. Filmmaking is my passion and I hope to work as an independent writer and director. In the world of filmmaking, creativity thrives. I couldn’t keep away!

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

Before attending Columbia, I was studying at the University of New Haven in West Haven Connecticut. I initially attend UNH for a degree in Communication-Mass Communication, but wanted to expand upon my love of writing through a degree in English-Literature. I graduated UNH in May of 2014 with a BS degree in Communication and a BA degree in English.

While at the University of New Haven, I made it a goal to obtain as much writing and production experience as I could. I had the privilege to work on numerous productions, eventually making my way working as the co-writer and Assistant Director of my senior thesis film, Up In The Woods. Aside from this, I have worked on independent feature films shooting in Connecticut, training videos for online self-help companies, and on my own personally funded projects.

I moved to Chicago in August of 2014, ready to embark on a new adventure. This city is bursting with life, and potential stories to tell!

Why did you choose Columbia for your graduate study?

I have always known that I wanted to continue my education after undergrad, so in my freshman year of college, I happened upon Columbia’ website and found their MFA program in Cinema Directing. I knew instantly that Columbia was a school I needed to revisit once I was ready to think about graduate school.

What drew me to Columbia was the unique focus on character driven drama. For me, a film is made due to the characters within it. I also loved that I would have the opportunity to write my projects if I wanted. Having the freedom to write and explore character was extremely appealing to me, as these are some of my favorite parts of filmmaking.

I also knew that the program not only gave you the tools to create unique stories, but also focused on the business aspect of filmmaking. I knew that I needed to hone my skills as a filmmaker, but that I also needed to understand the ins and outs of the film industry if I was going to be successful.

Most importantly, however, are the hands-on experiences that Columbia offers. Learning is all well and good, but having the opportunity to have the practical application of knowledge is what sets you apart from everyone else. It is important to expand boundaries outside of the classroom, and Columbia does just that.

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

Right now I am working on my first ideation for the final project for Directing for Character. I will be exploring the relationship between an estranged father and son who come together for an impromptu fishing trip after years of separation. The imagery of a fish hook is extremely important to understanding how the son feels his relationship with his father stands. A fishhook works as a tool to be utilized. Its purpose is in the form of necessity. This tool is also deadly, and can bring panic and death to the fish not smart enough to swim away from its luring nature. While the father and son sit on the dock and fish, they must come to face to face with issues they have been trying to avoid.