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September 23, 2021

Freshman Brings Hong Kong Vision to Cinema & Media Studies Program

By Elizabeth Sun

The Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies program transforms students into skilled artists, media makers and leaders in their chosen fields with a unique, interdisciplinary learning experience. Throughout their studies, students are encouraged to bring their own productions to life through filming and editing, highlighting their distinct points of view and backgrounds. 

One student looking to explore her global vision at USC is freshman Samara Chaplain, who was recently awarded the Hong Kong Alumni Scholarship Fund.

Speaking with the USC Hong Kong International Office, Chaplain discussed her early beginnings in cinema, how she landed at the university and more.

EXPLORING HONG KONG CINEMA AT USC

Chaplain attributes her initial interest in cinema to her upbringing in Hong Kong: “My mom and my grandma both grew up watching it, and it’s been a huge inspiration of why I want to go into the film industry,” she said.

Following this initial spark, Chaplain took three years of media studies and two years of International Baccalaureate (IB) film studies, which made her fall “more and more in love with cinema” in “both the theoretical and production aspects of it.” 

Chaplain’s passion for cinema then led her to pursue a BA in Cinema and Media Studies at the top-ranked USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA). “I'm super excited to be going,” Chaplain enthused.

GIVING BACK TO HONG KONG

For her journey at USC, Chaplain is looking forward to exploring Hong Kong both “creatively and academically.” 

“I think Hong Kong films specifically are really under-represented and understudied in creative academia. If I can be a part of that at USC and try to bring attention to it, I would be honored,” she explained.

After developing her skill sets and knowledge base at SCA, Chaplain wants to highlight “the amazing, diverse place that Hong Kong is,” whether it be through her filmmaking or other aspects of her academic studies. 

“Hong Kong just has such a unique and interesting history and society that isn't really being explored,” she said.

CHAPLAIN’S COLLEGE JOURNEY AND APPLICATION TIPS

When asked if she had any advice for prospective students, Chaplain compiled her top college application tips, starting with authenticity.

“If you are yourself on paper, it’s going to be unique because there isn’t really anyone like you on earth,” she said.

In fact, Chaplain’s favorite college essay from her collection of personal statements was the one she wrote for SCA. 

“I wrote about how I find it really hard to take myself seriously,” she recalled. “Whenever I go about making a film or writing a script, I like to use comedy and try not to be serious.”

While Chaplain admitted she felt a bit intimidated by some of the SCA students’ more “serious” films, she was inspired to take a lighthearted, comedic tone with her essay so her originality would shine through.

Chaplain also advised students to choose an array of high school extracurriculars that they are passionate about.

From being the head of the creative department for her school’s charity fashion show to multiple leadership roles at clubs and organizations, Chaplain was highly involved in various creative outlets.

Among her other high school commitments, Chaplain also co-founded the e-magazine Cyberspace along with a school diversity council.

“One thing I really am grateful that I did is that if I couldn't find something I wanted to do at school, I just started it myself,” she said. 

While launching your own project or initiative can be difficult, Chaplain gave another piece of advice: “Find a group of friends that you want to start [things] with. It always makes it a lot easier.”