Why I'm going back to school...

I am currently pursuing a joint MBA-MFA degree at New York University.

I’ll be receiving a Master of Fine Arts degree from NYU Tisch School of the Arts
and a Master of Business Administration degree from NYU Stern School of Business.

The program ends in 2022.

“I feel like I’m at the bottom of the ladder again.” I was talking to my friend over some particularly gooey deep-dish pizza. The words “sell-out” began floating around my head, and friends were grieving my film career as if I had given up on beauty and art altogether. It was clear that for all my peers, my MBA applications were a personal offense to their idea of what my career should look like as a filmmaker. Somehow, getting a business degree was me hanging my hat, caving into the pressure, saying “I’m no longer an artist” and returning to my Silicon Valley roots. All of these myths started taking shape around me, ones I had heard before but were now being repeated over and over again: “Real entrepreneurs just do it” “You don’t need a degree, look at [insert famous entrepreneur] who did it without one” “It’s a waste of money, spend that on making another film.”

It boils down to professional development and opportunity. When I endeavored on pursuing my first feature film project, I found myself dealing with a significant budget, accounting, legal obligations, tax incentives, marketing, and distribution. I was navigating questions like: how do I pitch this project at this meeting? Or, if I offer my domestic rights to this company, should I bother with selling my international rights to someone else? So it’s a business education indeed, but one that emerges circumstantially out of whatever the situation demands in the moment. Learning from experience will certainly help develop context, but it didn’t break the ceiling into a film career with longevity. My experience in A Good Dream was only sufficient to bring me to know how to replicate the same film, but it’s clear to me that I want the ability to do more than that. I want to be in a position to develop more projects and work with more talent. I foresee business school as a time to develop my business education through books, classes, and peers, in a concentrated effort and investment in developing an education of the film business.

The wonderful bonus of my program is the unique nature of a dual-degree. I’ll be not only pursuing my MBA as originally intended, but I also have the opportunity to continue my film education alongside of it. I have already completed an independent film from conception through to distribution - But being an artist entails not only developing a craft but also a point of view. I am open to the notion that forming a voice as a creative person may take years of growth, work, and insight. The opportunity to study film in an institute like Tisch among peers equally passionate and committed to pursuing cinema is a huge privilege. Where on my own I solicit feedback on my work from individual contacts, have one-off artistic conversations when the muses speak, or ask a colleague for technical gear and equipment advice, at Tisch I look forward to having 3 years of being surrounded by artistic peers to collaborate and create with. I see it as a setting that will foster my growth as a filmmaker, and I am super excited for it. Graduate school is an investment, but it is one I feel worth the cost for my person future goals.

“I feel like I’m at the bottom of the ladder again.”
“Well, you’re at the bottom of a new beginning. One with a new height.”