Peter Stark Producing Program '17
How has the School of Cinematic Arts changed your view of producing? I have gained and sharpened many skills, within the framework of filmmaking, during my time here. The practical knowledge alone makes the School of Cinematic Arts worthwhile. While there is still so much for me to learn, I have a clearer overview of the disciplines that I’m pursuing and, at the very least, know what questions to ask.
More broadly, the School of Cinematic Arts has opened my eyes to the full responsibilities that come along with being a filmmaker. Though I am primarily interested in writing and producing, the program has really made clear to me the ways, big and small, that all the different aspects of filmmaking are interconnected.
What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying to your program? The Peter Stark Producing Program is a comprehensive, hands-on study of the industry. The program is rigorous and will likely push you beyond your comfort zone. But, if you are open to a challenging program, it offers a fantastic opportunity to learn an incredible amount about each aspect of the industry.
How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you so far for a career in producing? While at the School of Cinematic Arts, I’ve had the opportunity to get my hands dirty and actually apply the things I learned in class. I’ve been a director, writer, producer, editor and cinematographer. Because I’ve had the freedom to try many different positions, I have a much clearer view of what I truly want to do in this industry. SCA has been a really useful support system as I develop personally and hone my voice as a filmmaker.
What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC? Given the numerous opportunities available to SCA students, my biggest challenge has been balancing the many opportunities put before me. I always want to make sure that I’m able to give 100% to each of my responsibilities whether it’s my coursework or additional jobs and internships that I take on outside of school. For me, it’s been important learning exactly how much I can have on my plate before the quality of my work suffers.
The Stark faculty members have always made themselves available as a sounding board. Thanks to their constant support and guidance, I am very happy with the roles that I have taken on during my time at SCA.
What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view that you bring to USC? Growing up in Pine Bluff, a small town in southeastern Arkansas, has given me a unique perspective in my approach to filmmaking. Many of my experiences and people I encountered in Pine Bluff are inspiration for the stories that I want to tell. Being an African American woman, I have a voice that is not echoed on screen as much as I would like, but I’m pleased that, at SCA, I have a platform to tell stories that are important to me.
Where can people find more about your work? I produced a short film called On Time that was selected as a finalist for the HBO Short Film Competition at the American Black Film Festival in June of 2016. The story follows a mother living in South Central, Los Angeles as she is forced to make a difficult decision when she’s late for a job interview. It has been licensed by HBO and will be available on their online streaming services in early 2017.