“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 life entirely. 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 doing my art thing” 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 XYZ who did it without one” “It’s a waste of money, spend that on making another film.”
But here’s the thing - It boils down to professional development and opportunity. This is something very simply clear to me, and I’m finding not so clear to others. 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 so and so 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 doesn’t help develop a breadth of understanding. 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. Indeed, I have already completed an independent film from conception through to distribution - But frankly, that means very little. Being an artist entails not only developing a craft but also a point of view. Sometimes it takes life experience and years of insight to begin to form a voice as a creative person. 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 friend to teach me how to use her camera, at Tisch I will have 3 years of being surrounded by artistic peers to collaborate and create with. It is a setting that fosters your 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 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.”