Ethan Kurzrock

Ethan Kurzrock

BA, Media Arts + Practice '21

What inspired you to want to study the cinematic arts?

From a young age, I was fascinated with the art and technology of cinema. One of my most vivid childhood memories is walking down the aisles of Blockbuster, mesmerized by every DVD cover, and standing on my tiptoes trying to see what filmmaking magic was inside. Technicolor in The Wizard of Oz, matte painting in Star Wars, and computer animation in Toy Story instigated my lifelong interest in the intersection of media art and science. Technology enables storytellers to tell stories in expressive ways.

What scholarship awards did you receive directly from SCA?

It was a tremendous honor to receive scholarships from the Jonathan Bernbaum Memorial Fund and Pierre Cossette Endowed Fund for Student Support. 

What has been the impact of receiving a scholarship from SCA?

Generous scholarship awards from SCA were instrumental in attending college. The obstacles of having a single parent and limited financial resources did not prevent me from pursuing my education. I worked passionately in the classroom, told daring stories in my creative work, and contributed my skills to the dynamic artistic community at USC.

The people who support SCA students inspire me greatly. For the Jonathan Bernbaum Memorial Fund, Jonathan Bernbaum’s work in visual music is incredibly inspiring, and it is my goal to carry on his legacy by pushing the envelope in media arts. For the Pierre Cossette Endowed Fund for Student Support, Pierre Cossette played a pivotal role in bringing cinema and music together. I collaborate with many musicians and composers at USC Thornton School of Music to bring stories to life musically. 

What activities or student organizations are you involved in outside of the classroom?

At USC, I assist an SCA professor in teaching a lower-division 3D modeling course and a documentary filmmaking course. 

My capstone thesis project focuses on education technology and media arts. My project will launch a school curriculum for intergenerational storytelling projects, in which children and grandparents create digital stories together.

What has been your favorite class or project at SCA thus far?

In the Media Arts + Practice course, IML 404: Tangible and Spatial Computing, taught by Professor John Carpenter, I created a project called AR Playdates. I collaborated with students in the USC Iovine and Young Academy to prototype a device that allows children and family members in other places to have virtual playdates in AR. Augmented reality is a fascinating technology for bringing multiple generations together. I made new friends and collaborators by teaming up with talented students in other art schools at USC.

What is a meaningful experience you've had while at SCA?

Throughout my time at USC, faculty mentorship has been one of the most important aspects of my education. My professor, Gabriel Peters-Lazaro, taught my first class at SCA. He sparked my interest in the theory and history of media art. We have stayed in close contact throughout my four years at USC, and advised on my capstone projects, helping me advance academically and artistically. 

What are your career goals after graduation?

While at USC, I interned for two summers at Apple. I am excited to build on my passion for video editing technology, and be a part of the Apple Video Applications team. 

What advice do you have for prospective students looking to apply to SCA?

When speaking with prospective students, I remind them to use their wildest creative ideas in the portfolio. High school often pushes students to follow prompts and color inside the lines. USC School of Cinematic Arts encourages creative freedom, and the portfolio is a space for prospective students to convey who they are to the SCA faculty.