Taking the leap into a new career can be exhilarating, terrifying, and also a bit risky. For many of us, our first career path is launched after years of study in a cocooned environment. Sometimes those early careers become an unhappy rut, and breaking free to a line of work that ignites some passion and creativity can be a tall order. That was the challenge facing
MMW alum Paula Bryant earlier this year. Stuck for more than a decade in 9-to-5 desk jobs, Paula found herself increasingly dissatisfied. "There's that little voice on the inside that constantly nags at you," said Paula. "One day I woke up and said, 'Okay, no more. I have to be me. I have to do the thing that I love to do.'"
Long before her office days, Paula was recruited by a friend to help with props and special effects on the Damon Wayans movie, Major Payne. That first experience had a profound effect. "I was hooked," Paula explained. From there, she tried to navigate a career on her own, working as a production assistant and helping friends with film projects. Then came time for her to make her own movie. As many first-time filmmakers quickly discover, starting a film is far easier than finishing one. Issues with her crew and other difficulties soon overwhelmed and eventually halted her production. "It was quite the turnoff," Paula said. "It made me hate the thing that I love."
Frustrated and disappointed, Paula gave up her dream of being a filmmaker and settled into a series of unfulfilling desk jobs. "I really didn't like it, but when you have to live, you make the best out of whatever it is that you're doing." Eventually, though, that little nagging voice finally got her attention, and Paula decided to take another shot at her dream.
Like many career changers, Paula didn't have the time or the funds to spend years starting over. But she knew she needed professional instruction. That's why she was drawn to our six-week filmmaking workstudy program. Like our Four Week Film School, eight-week producing intensive, eight- or 12-week cinematography intensives, and our 30-week professional certificate programs, the workstudy program is designed to give maximum professional instruction in a fraction of the time. It also has the additional benefit of offering its students reduced tuition in exchange for helping out around our campus.
Designed for new filmmakers, the soup-to-nuts immersion in film and video production leads students all the way from writing and pre-production to editing and screening their own short film, giving them hands-on experience in all aspects of the filmmaking process. It's also the first module of our new Independent Filmmaking Certificate Program.
Crewing on fellow students' films can be one of the most rewarding parts of the program. For Paula, it gave her invaluable insight to different directing styles. "The most empowering part was getting to work with other artists and getting to see their process," explained Paula. "I liked being able to contribute to their work, and having them contribute to mine. I learned to respect the process."
In just six weeks, an entirely new foundation of knowledge was laid, theory was put into practice, and work was seen through to completion. Successfully leading her crew and finishing her project were major milestones for Paula. "It was awesome. My crew made it work. They really allowed me to be the director that I needed to be and I really saw me again."
Paula has sworn never to return to a 9-to-5 job. With the knowledge, experience, and confidence she gained in this program, she's ready to take the next steps in a career in filmmaking. "I'm hoping that my next step will be to continue to write and really get into directing my own projects," said Paula. "And one day I hope I can provide jobs for other artists like myself."
--Thanks to Dennis Corsi for contributing to this story!