Statement of Purpose

We all go through life wondering what our true purpose is. To discover this purpose entails finding your individual gift. Life has given me the gift of filmmaking. I did not choose this gift, I discovered it within me. This essay is called a statement of purpose so let me state my purpose clearly: my purpose in life is to create cinematic experiences. Filmmaking is the gift that has been given to me and now it is time to develop my skills further and become a more complete filmmaker.

Creating experiences has been in my life since childhood. It began with producing magic and puppet shows to the amusement of my family. This blossomed into creating short films in middle school. In high school, I continued to produce films with friends and started to take filmmaking seriously. I applied to UNCW with the intent to pursue filmmaking. To enter the film program students are required to take a difficult course, FST 200. I thrived in this environment. The challenge of the class solidified my internal desire to be a filmmaker. I came in a kid and left a cinephile.

Once I started taking production classes, I was completely immersed in the process of filmmaking. Over the next two years I produced and directed four resource-heavy films: Flat Land Flowin’, 803, Swoon, and Healing. Each film required an enormous amount of energy and time. Swoon was the most successful film; it won 3 awards at local film festivals. Healing was the last and most challenging film I directed. After graduating from film school, I desired to express myself within an artform that did not require collaborators.

With no resources, I began to explore the art of photography. I learned about the technical aspects of a still image, and most importantly I learned how to see light. I put filmmaking on hold and started a new relationship with photography. My images had modest success on social media, but I still felt something was missing. I missed filmmaking so I began to write my next film, Out of Hand

Out of Hand’s visual palette consists of only hands; the film does not show any faces. This allowed me to use friends and family as actors. I gathered up a skeleton crew and we shot the film on a weekend. Cinema slowly creeped back into my life. I started watching my favorite films from school and began to branch out and watch new films. The television in my life turned into a cinema machine. On one channel was Jean Luc Goddard and on the next Stanley Kubrick. I watched films incessantly. Even if the entire movie had only one interesting shot or idea it was worth the watch.

This return to cinema led me to the realization that heading back to school and earning a master’s degree is the correct course for my life. Earning a master’s degree in filmmaking grants one the luxury of having the resources of a studio while affording the process of learning. I have high expectations of what to look forward to from my time at UNCW as an undergrad. I want to develop my artistic and technical filmmaking skills to become a self-sufficient filmmaker. I am seeking to be involved in a challenging environment where my work can find critique and I can grow as an artist. In addition to the courses offered, I plan to take on my own personal study of cinema.

UNCW has the knowledge and resources required to grow into an independent filmmaker. Not only am I excited about focusing on specialized aspects of production, but I am enthralled with the idea of working within all categories of films. Understanding each category opens the possibility of mixing and matching in new and interesting ways. Furthermore, I am interested in having three years of uninterrupted school and producing three short films during that time. The real-world experience of working on other student’s films and collaborating with peers will further my skill as a practical filmmaker. Finally, I want to go to UNCW for the eclectic mix of film scholars and working professionals in the department. The insight and knowledge of the faculty will be an invaluable resource.

Within the graduate program, I am applying to be a Teacher’s Assistant. Education is my second calling in life. I have a strong desire to teach filmmaking. I find myself naturally teaching others because of my insatiable desire to learn. UNCW is a great place to learn how to become a film studies educator not only from the opportunity to teach a variety of courses, but also in finding mentorship from the faculty. My goal will be to inspire students to take on their own cinematic journey. I am excited by the prospect of deepening my understanding of filmmaking through teaching. Once this terminal degree is completed, I would enjoy teaching at the college level.

My journey of leaving and finally returning to cinema has left me with the sense of having a true purpose. I am applying to graduate school in my late twenties because I have had the life experience to truly know what my internal desires and goals are. I did not have much life experience when I was an undergrad. There was not much original to say. But after this journey through my 20’s I now have a better grasp on life. I understand my desire to communicate through the moving image. If given the opportunity to study filmmaking at UNCW, I will dedicate myself entirely to my craft.