JLee Mackenzie

JLee Mackenzie

MFA, Film and Television Production '21

What inspired you to want to study the cinematic arts?

I worked as a prison movie projectionist where I projected movies on a wall for prisoners to watch. I saw the power of cinema and decided to become a filmmaker.

What scholarship awards did you receive directly from SCA?

I received the George Lucas Scholarship & two Jeffery Jones Writing Scholarships.

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

The George Lucas Scholarship really affirmed my choice to pursue film. It arrived at a key moment in my journey and was a strong sign to continue on the path. And the Jeffery Jones Scholarships arrived at moments of conflict when I was questioning things. So those really became strong symbols, as well, which affirmed my choices. The scholarships also made grad school a more realistic financial possibility.

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

Outside of the classroom, I grind on my next works as if its a war and my life depends on it. That is how I approached my path here and that is how I've approached my time here. People often try to tell me to do less, but truly, my happiness is derived from me doing what I do so I don't listen to them.

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

Barnet Kellman's Comedy Directing Class
Bruce Block's Visual Expression Class
Mike Fink's Directing in a Virtual World
Those three classes were groundbreaking for me.

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

I had the opportunity to direct a Stark Special Project funded by a grant from the Peter Stark Producing Program. That turned into one of the largest, most complex projects I've directed and by the end I knew I could handle a feature. That film, Hurricane, was recently selected for the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at Cannes. So it was not only a meaningful experience, it also brought fruitful results for our team.

What are your career goals after graduation?

Direct Feature Films and Television. One day I hope to become a part of the Star Wars family as well.

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

You have to be willing to sacrifice. You have to be willing to go further than you ever felt comfortable. You have to be willing to break your own boundaries. The bar is really high. You have to be willing to push it even higher. It's not just about what USC or SCA can do for you. It's about what you are absolutely determined to do for yourself no matter what obstacles get in your way. Push yourself that hard and I'll see ya on the other side. Good luck!