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Archive for June 26th, 2009

From Paint to Film

I’ve worn several different masks in the past 3 years. As a Freshman, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I was happy with my paints. Content with my canvases. Giddy about charcoal and watercolor. My fist week of my sophomore year was torture. I sat down at a table. Picked up my brush but couldn’t start my first surface pattern assignment. Questions interrupted my work. Was I going to sit at a desk for the rest of my life? Were flowers and seashells the rest of my existence? I called my parents that night. Color samples sprayed across my drafting table. Buckets of murky water sat still. Brushes crusted with dried paint. I left my desk like that for a week. I dropped out of my classes, sat on my bed and imitated my art supplies. Motionless.
The next week I had to make a decision. Fast. What was I going to do … with my LIFE? It’s such a big question for a 19 year old. Science? All three of my brothers are engineers. I didn’t want to take the same route. Writing? It seemed too vague at the time. Art? Oh no. What if I freeze again?
My dad works for Kodak. So did my Grandfather …AND a few of my uncles. One worked with Ansel Adams and another is a published photographer. I thought I’d take a swing at the family gene pool.
It worked. I fell in love with photography. However, I was still struggling with the question about how to make a living (another really big question for a 19 year old). I decided to look at the really big building with the fancy windows across the street – Newhouse School of Public Communications.
I decided to minor in Public Relations but waited for the spring to start. I was going to dive in … until I broke my back in two places. It slowed the process down a little bit. I was only able to take Com 107 – an introductory course to television, radio, film, journalism, and new media. My professor was Dr. Hollenback. I fell in love – again (not with her, though I respect and adore the woman, but with communications in general). I thrived on current events quizzes and loved watching public service announcements. During a mandatory meeting with the professor, I shared my interest in foreign films. It seemed like a side note at the time. In elementary school, I watched British films to escape my brother’s pubescent nonsense. In middle school, I watched Chinese and Korean Cinema. In high school, I absorbed Spanish and Italian films. In Rochester, it’s not unusual to frequently visit the George Eastman Museum or independent movie theaters. But film was always recreational. I never thought it could be a career.
Professor Hollenbeck asked me one question at the end of our meeting. “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”
In my head – “Seriously? I’ve had two different majors in the past 2 years. I’m the last person to know what I want to do.”
Instinctively I answered. “Travel … (still thinking) while doing something creative. (Wow, Hannah, way to be vague).
She introduced me to Television, Radio, and Film and suggested that I consider it. I did.
Later, I returned to her office – a lot. I inquired more about the major and what I had to do to transfer into the big building across the street with the shiny new windows.
SOOOO. What does this have to do with India? (you probably started asking yourself that a couple paragraphs ago). Let me outline it out for you (my fingers are getting a little tired anyway).
1. During one of my many meetings with Dr. Hollenback, she told me about a Television, Radio and Film Professor who took a few of her students to India for a film internship.
2. I had always wanted to go to India (Hello, surface pattern design and photography).
3. The trip sounded like a microcosm of my future career objectives: travel and creativity.
4. I decided to change my major and college after hearing about the trip.
5. A year and a half later I travelled to India.
6. I got to work with innovative and enthusiastic individuals who live to tell stories.
7. I thrived on the color, tastes, textures, and smells (good and bad).
8. I formed friendships with established filmmakers and producers who travel for a living while watching actors jump off buildings or swim in bikinis. (Seriously, what is more fun than that?)

In conclusion, next year will be the first year of college that I begin WITHOUT changing my major. In India, I discovered people with passion, drive, and enthusiasm. O yeah, AND they’ve been to Italy, South Africa, Russia, Cambodia, Australia …

Welcome to filmmaking. It feels good to be home.

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