Where should I start?
Let’s start with the US. One day, I saw a lady standing behind the table in one of the American University’s buildings with flyers and posters that read, “Study Abroad in Chile.”
I went to her and inquired. This was the first time I knew about the study abroad program, where students could go abroad for a semester with American University student status. However, there was no film program in Chile. Yet, I found two options on AU Abroad’s website to study film abroad: CET Film Production at FAMU or NYFA Australia. Both schools were very familiar to me. For various reasons, I chose FAMU.
I filled out the application.
I didn’t tell my family members. I told no one until I got approval from CET. Still, I didn’t tell my family members even though I knew the situation—financial and family situations.
One day, I told Sangita that I had an opportunity to study at FAMU. Her reaction was as expected. I knew she would not be happy because this was the first time I was far from her after being together for six years. I know it was harder for her because I was the one who made a decision. A person who makes a decision doesn’t get a chance to feel it and describe it. I have no words to describe how grateful I am to her. She not only allowed me to chase my dream, but also handled all the family responsibilities. “Thank you” is not enough to express gratitude to those who are more responsible for you than yourself.
I have many people to thank on this journey who have helped me in direct and indirect ways. Krishna and Spenser not only became my friends, but also introduced me to the beauty of experimental and Avant-Garde Cinema. Niko and Michael helped me understand the frame of cameras. They all inspired me to use my camera to capture beautiful Prague moments.
If there were no FAMU, I would still be wandering about the film language. Honestly speaking, I have read multiple times that film has a different language than other art mediums or art and literature. I understand why after attending classes at FAMU. Professors like Marek, Murat, and Michael taught me to think seriously about camera movement, light, and color because these are the three major elements of making a film on set.
Making a film is fun, but not always. Sometimes, it makes us experience things we never expected. Then, you need someone who understands the situation. My mentor, Sheida Sheikhha, not only helped with the creative process but also has been helpful in other situations. I always remember what Sheida said about writing the film, “Your character never thinks. You have to show.”
“Show, don’t tell”—I have been hearing this line since I started studying film. I didn’t know there was more. I remember another line from another mentor, Esteban Alfaro, “Suggest, don’t show.” Esteban was always flexible in discussing the film. He even gave me time and feedback on a story I have been working on besides the class project.
In conclusion, there are many things I have learned from this course. Even though I had a busy schedule, I managed to travel to Budapest, Vienna, Berlin, and Brno and learned about central Europe’s geography, history, art, food, music, etc. I have traveled alone in cities with my camera. I never played with my camera before. I felt like taking photos is not different than writing literature. Other places I will always remember are Ponrepo Cinema, Prague, and the Viennale Film Festival in Vienna.
If there was no CET, I wouldn’t have had these opportunities to explore filmmaking and Europe in general. Thank you, Adriana, Kevin, Joelle, Marie, Simona, and Julie for your support.
To finish, if I need to summarize my experience in one sentence, I will say I gained the confidence to lead a short film project as a director. This program helped me understand how film writing differs from other writing forms. I learned that film writing is visual writing, which may not be translated into words perfectly. My camera is helping me to understand visually.