Trailer for Lindsey's film Canto de Familia
MFA, Production '13
How has the School of Cinematic Arts changed your view of your discipline (filmmaking, screenwriting, animation, producing, interactive, critical studies, etc.)?
In the Film and Television Production MFA, my main concentration is producing. When I started I was concerned producing was something I wouldn't be challenged by because I'd had lots of management experience but...producing is hard. It's not just a couple of emails and coffees and call it a day. You have to be able to multitask like 80 things at once and make it look like you like it! You do like it sometimes. Being able to be involved at every step of the project is something I really enjoy.
So much of this work is dealing with people and approaching really frustrating and intense situations with sanity and ease and general niceness. The work gets done so much faster that way.
What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying to your program?
Live some life before you come back to grad school! I had a few years to myself but actually wish I had spent even more time off between undergrad and grad. I love traveling.
Making films, directing actors and collaborating with your peers gets really meta and often asks you to borrow from extremely personal experiences. The more experiences you have before you settle into 3-4 years of putting your inner most feelings into your work the better. Read a lot of film books, geek out on obscure cinema but also maybe get scuba diving certified, breed pugs or cure some kind of disease or whatever. Basically films are about life. Go and live some and be really proud of it when you apply. Then get accepted and make a movie about said cured disease.
How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you so far for a career in your discipline?
So far I've produced a short documentary called Made by Me and I got to direct my own documentary called Canto de Familia. Recently I got to produce a webseries for Subway called The Ultimates, and that's only three of the projects I've worked on here in addition to many more. We are premiering the web series at South by Southwest this year and it's super exciting for our crew and SCA. In only two years I've been able to pitch ideas to professionals in the industry and work on some great material with my friends. I feel pretty prepared to get out there and pay back my loans.
The best thing about SCA is all of the people you're going to meet. I've met some really incredible people who have introduced me to other really incredible people. In the end the network that you get from attending SCA is invaluable.
What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC?
My biggest challenges have been overcoming my own insecurities about the quality of my work and showing it to other people. No matter how confident of a person you are, screening something you've been living with through development, production and post always feels like someone is about to punch you in the gut. But then you screen it, and some people like it and some people don't and you say "That wasn't so bad" and you do it all over again like a crazy person.
I've changed for the better and learned more about myself in the past two years than I ever would have expected to.
What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view that you bring to USC?
I drew caricatures and portraits in theme parks for 7 years and managed people professionally in that industry for about three. I think that's pretty weird. You can really learn a lot about life from watching people at a theme park.
It's nice to come from a mostly Latino city like San Antonio, Tx to another mostly Latino city like Los Angeles and still feel inspired to tell stories about my culture like I did in the doc I just directed. I couldn't have told that story with out my specific upbringing in Texas and I would not be here if it weren't for the constant emotional support I get from my sister and parents.
They still ask "So...what do you do?" and then after I explain the jobs of a producer/ director, they reassure me with a comforting, "That's nice."