Tara Jenkins

Tara Jenkins

Summer Program

Tara's web series 'Suite Talk'
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How has the School of Cinematic Arts changed your view of your discipline? Being a part of the School of Cinematic Arts this summer has deepened my understanding of all that goes into the filmmaking process. Working on such tight time schedules and on multiple projects at once has emphasized, for me, the importance of collaboration. Acting as producer on the film we shot on the Warner Brothers back lot was probably the most informative experience I could have had to learn all the different aspects of filmmaking that come together in order to work productively on set. I believe that I understand not only my own discipline, but all parts of making a film, better because of this experience.

What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying to your program? The biggest piece of advice I have for prospective students is to have a generous and understanding attitude. The ability to work with others and put the film above your ego is what I believe really sets some students apart from others. I think it is more important to be able to show that you have been able to successfully work on teams to complete projects, than it is to have beautiful work that you did by yourself because you do not know how to compromise and collaborate. In the long run, I think the ability to work with others is the best asset you can bring to any program.

How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you so far for a career in your discipline? Studying at the School of Cinematic Arts has been invaluable preparation for the real world and a career in filmmaking. So much emphasis is put on professionalism, doing everything in the way that it will be done in the industry. Paperwork, permits, and understanding the laws of filming in different areas can seem tedious, but it is really important to understand all those parts of the filmmaking process now, so that you are most prepared to transition from being a student filmmaking to being a professional one. I feel a lot more confident about going out and trying to make a career in filmmaking now, after the knowledge of the industry that I have acquired at USC.

What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC? The biggest challenge for me at USC has been the quick turn around on projects. In six weeks we will have written, shot, and edited three different short films. Before my time at SCA, I was used to doing about one or two short films a semester. I did not know it was possible to create material so quickly and still end up with a finished product that I could be proud of. I have learned that with focus and a crew that works together well, this is completely possible. I think it has been extremely helpful to be able to make so many films, even though this has been challenging. Each film teaches you something new about how to direct, write, or be on set in any capacity.

What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view that you bring to USC? I was extremely shy growing up, to the point where my teachers were worried I could not speak when I started elementary school. One of the biggest struggles in my life has been getting over my paralyzing fear of speaking up. It was through theater and eventually film that I found an outlet of expression and a place that I could feel comfortable being myself and coming out of my shell. My personality changed radically as I got older and found confidence through the arts. I think that getting involved in film in this way has given me a unique point of view because I see film as a connector. My background has inspired me to try to use film as a means of reaching people who have difficulty reaching out themselves.

What personal projects have you worked on and/or are currently working on? Your welcome to send links to any projects (i.e. personal webpages, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.).

I am currently working on a web series called “Suite Talk.”