For as long as I can remember, I have loved the movies. On any given day, there is no place I’d rather be than a darkened theater, enveloped in a world moving by at 24 frames per second. Even now, as I write this, I can feel that exquisite anticipation when the lights dim low and the projector starts to flicker. I even hush those around me during the previews (yes, I am one of “those”). I want to be fully present at the moment the picture begins.
Though I always dreamed of ending up in the film industry, as an undergraduate I had only the faintest idea of where I might fit in. Perhaps it was the promise of slide lectures in a dimly-lit auditorium that led me to take my first Art History survey course, but whatever the reason I have been grateful that I chose an Art History major ever since.
The study of Art History allowed me to become literate in visual language, providing an understanding of how a frame is constructed and what those choices communicate to the viewer. As a professional editor, my job at its most fundamental level is to examine and deconstruct visual imagery. Then, through careful selection and juxtaposition, construct a story.
Just as important, a degree in Art History from Carleton greatly sharpened my writing skills. Every film begins on the page, long before the camera is pointed at the subject. The skill of being able to communicate your vision is important not only in production, but also in raising funds for your work as well as winning jobs. I started my career as a development writer at Northern Light Productions and though I have since moved into producing and editing, it is a skill I greatly value.
Looking back, I think that the department’s focus on critical analysis coupled with an academic environment that promotes engagement with the world is what made documentary film such a comfortable fit. I have been fortunate to have worked in a variety of mediums: from feature-length theatrical film to broadcast television, from interactive media to multi-screen museum installations. While some of my work has focused on the arts, no matter the subject, I am always able to draw upon what I learned as an Art History major at Carleton.