I came to ArtCenter with an unwavering love for film and a talent for production design. Production design was a way to collaborate and form friendships with other students, but what I really wanted to do was direct. The film department at ArtCenter is very hands-on. You learn how to do a little bit of everything, which is a great position to be in for an aspiring filmmaker.
Jean-Luc Godard once said that a cinematic story should “have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order.” I could not agree more with that assertion. My films are unconventional, strange, and sensorial. I want viewers to be able to taste and smell them. My cinematic body of work is an amalgam of photography, visual collage, fashion, and new digital media. It is the purest form of self-expression that I know.
I grew up with a background in international cinema. My father is Dutch and my mom is from Brazil. Before ArtCenter, I never spent any extended period of time in the States. I was born in Japan and lived all over the place: Brazil, Holland, and the United Kingdom. As a kid, my mom showed me the classics of Akira Kurosawa. To this day, he is one of my greatest inspirations. I also gravitate towards the films of David Lynch, Wes Anderson, and Hayao Miyazaki, particularly their shared philosophy that lighting, set design, and production design can tell a story as much as acting or dialogue.
The greatest films are ones that change with you: they evolve and take on new meaning over time. Amélie is a film I loved dearly as a teenaged girl, and while I’m capable of appreciating it on a nostalgic level at this point in my life, it doesn’t hold the same magic for me that it once did. In this way, films are a way of keeping in touch with my changing self. They help inform who I am as I navigate through my life.
One skill that I developed later in my life was film editing. While directing remains my foremost passion, editing has proven to be a great way to make money. It’s a valuable skill for shaping a narrative, but you should never let it interfere with the original vision that existed in your head – even if making practical sacrifices is inevitable.
It’s hard to articulate the joy of when your film is done and you can take a look at it and say, “we made this together.” Taking days or weeks to create and execute an original vision is a high unlike anything else I’ve known. Directing is akin to manifesting a creative vision from the feet up, whereas editing is a little like putting together pieces of a puzzle. Making it fit together perfectly is time-consuming and can definitely drive you a little mad, but when it’s truly done, you’ll know. My joint interest in directing and editing has helped me to create works that are true to my ever-changing sense of self.
ArtCenter was an intensely demanding experience at times, but it also taught me things about myself that I never could have imagined. At multiple points during my time there, I found myself asking: who am I really doing this for? My parents? My future self? After a year at ArtCenter, I realized I wasn’t doing this for anyone other than myself. There’s a tremendous sort of liberation in that kind of thinking. With my films, I aim to provoke and confound and create work that blurs the line between disciplines.
The best part about making a film is that, at the outset, it’s a blank canvas: it can literally be anything you want it to be. If you’re passionate about the medium and you have the skills and resources to make something happen – well, what’s stopping you? Obviously it takes time and money to do these things, but if you care enough, you too can make it work.
BFA 18 Film
Freelance Video Editor/Videographer at Photogenics Media