Shayna Davis

– tell us about what you do or what you aspire to do in film ,what have you already accomplished and what are your goals?

There’s definitely a part of me that aspires to do it all. I love every aspect from writing to camera to editing, so I’d love the chance to try a bit of everything out professionally. At the moment though, I’m definitely more focused on directing and editing projects. 

– who or what inspires you to pursue your passions?

I think my friends inspire me a lot. I love seeing what everyone is up to. It lights a fire under my butt to get my own stuff done. Other forms of art also give me a lot of inspiration. Whatever books, music, and other films I’m consuming tend to bleed into what I’m making or what I want to make. 

– what originally drew you into film?

Probably just having movies around me all the time. My parents started showing me all their favorite movies from a super young age and my grandma would take me to the movie theater pretty much every weekend when I was little. I think as a kid I thought they were so magical and that feeling just stuck around. 

– do you have any particular female role models?

Creatively, I would say Anna Biller, Patti Smith and Nan Goldin have been big inspirations to me for a while. 

– why is film important to you and what does film mean to you?

Oh it’s important to me for a lot of reasons. It can act as pure escapism or social commentary and it can help you make sense of the world in either of those realms. It’s such an easy way to bond with people and bring people together. It is also the art form that combines all other art forms, which is pretty special. 

– are you working on any projects currently? If so, tell us about it. If not, do you have plans to work on something soon?

Yes! I have a new short film in the works right now. My biggest one I’ve made so far (production wise). I guess I would call it a rom-com between a roller rink employee and a regular customer she’s become enamoured with. I’m very excited, we start filming in August 🙂 

Kristen Troise

-tell us about what you do or what you aspire to do in film; what have you already accomplished and what are your goals?

Currently I am freelance assistant cameraman/ production assistant in the NYC area, I have directed several award-winning short films and have worked on a number of movies/tv shows such as 21 Bridges and Holiday Wars/Halloween Wars on the Food Network. My goal is to become a director of photography starting with short form content such as music videos and commercial, but hopefully one day landing a gig for an HBO miniseries. 

– who or what inspires you to pursue your passions?

My parents always played a big role in encouraging me to pursue my passions which I’m very grateful for. When I told them I was interested in film making, the next day my mom was researching summer programs in the area for me to attend, and ever since then I’ve never looked back. I’m quite driven so whenever I have the desire to succeed at something it’s difficult for me not to give it everything I have which I think is important with film, it can be emotionally and physically taxing but if you love it then letting it go is next to impossible.

– what originally drew you into film?

Around my sophomore year of high school, I went to go see American Hustle with my parents and as the credits rolled, I saw the “directed by” credit take over the screen. Although I would not rank American Hustle as one of my favorite films, nor do I want to be a director, something about that moment stuck with me. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would look like to see my name up on the screen like that, and what it would feel like to make something that resonated with me or excited them or simply allowed them to escape from reality for a bit. 

– do you have any particular female role models?

My current role models are Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Isa Rae because they are both strong, intelligent women who are redefining the industry for women. They both created, wrote, and starred in their own tv shows that are not only hilarious but also quite genuine and relatable. I remember watching both shows for the first time and feeling understood because I was dealing with situations that the main characters also experienced. It was this fantastic mixture of an escape from reality but also allowing me this outside perspective on what I was going through to help me process it.

– why is film important to you and what does film mean to you?

To me, film is a method of connecting people and sharing perspectives. I think it’s really beautiful when a film maker can create a piece of art that helps them work through something they are feeling and by sharing it with the world they can help someone else feel a little less alone. 

– are you working on any projects currently? If so, tell us about it. If not, do you have plans to work on something soon?

I am currently the Director of Photography on a film called Hot Wheels, directed by a good friend of mine that will be shooting in late August about two older women who fall in love at a roller-skating rink. I am particularly excited about this project because I feel like so often when gay love stories are told the characters being gay is usually some sort of obstacle to further the plot, but this will be a pure and simple love story that channels the beauty of young love no matter how old you are.

Carmen Chan

Tell us about what you do or what you aspire to do in film; what have you already accomplished and what are your goals?

The past 4 years of college, I’ve worked on probably around 50 or so projects, ranging from short films to commercials to music videos in Philly, LA, New York, and more recently Chicago. I’ve been fortunate enough to have most of my experience be exclusively in the lighting or camera department as it helps add to my skills and knowledge of wanting to become a cinematographer. This summer, about a week or two after I graduated, I directed my first big film. It was my thesis project – or what was supposed to be my thesis project if COVID didn’t push back production to the summer. It was a big deal for me, not only because it was a culmination of 4 years of my education, but also because it was a super personal film of dealing with being a first generation immigrant and struggling to find an identity that blends two completely different cultures. The experiences taught me a lot, like how I don’t ever want to be a director. But also how to organize a production better, how to communicate with all of my crew members and department heads, and learn how much thought needs to go into every aspect of a film. My goals in the post-grad adult life is to continue to grow creatively and be able to work on projects that highlight these kinds of personal stories (in narrative or documentary) and maybe be able to travel for this work.

Who or what inspires you to pursue your passions?
Really my friends inspire me every day. I see them create awesome work and it just inspires me to keep going and better myself as a creative. And it’s also just good to hype each other up every time we create something. Even better is to work with each other and uplift everyone. But I think the main motivator to pursue film is honestly to kind of show people that I can do it. That a little Chinese kid from the suburbs can make it in the industry – can break down barriers in it and show the guys that I can do it too. Let’s be honest – there’s a lot of men running the industry. It’s changing a lot now, but the ratio is skewed to one side. My first set, I think there were only 5 girls on the crew in total. Out of probably 15. I didn’t really pay attention to it at the time, but when I was showing my mom the crew photo that we took, she made the comment “there are only boys here”. That really struck a chord with me and it’s something I quickly became hyperaware of ever since.

What originally drew you into film?

It’s funny, I wasn’t a movie person until maybe my junior year of high school. I didn’t really watch movies as a kid. I probably only watched the same 5 movies until I was 8. I only watched reruns of movies on the TV and I think the first movie I saw in the theatre was when I was 11 and it was the Tim Burton “Alice in Wonderland” movie in 3D. But I also helped make some short films with a friends in high school, mostly doing camera stuff with a really bad camcorder, and I think that’s what planted the seed. Ultimately, unlike most people, it wasn’t a movie that drew me into film. I think it was more of the physical process: holding a camera and being responsible for capturing the image. Seeing things unfold in front of me and having everything come together… that’s what drew me in.

Do you have any particular female role models?
Well, that’s the thing about the film industry – there aren’t really a lot of female role models. I could name a few high-profile female cinematographers whose work I admire, but my main role models are mostly friends and people that I’ve worked with. I remember when I was a freshman in college I was working in the film department’s equipment room. An upperclassman was returning a camera that wasn’t a photography camera and I just kind of stared at it because I didn’t know how it worked, nor did I want to break it.  So the person who was returning it (who is now a really great friend of mine) showed me how it worked. I was so taken aback seeing this young female cameraperson showing me around this camera. I almost immediately told her that I also wanted to do camera work and we’ve worked together for a ton of projects and she’s still putting out really cool stuff. And now I know the camera like the back of my hand thanks to her.

Why is film important to you and what does film mean to you?
Film is important to me because it’s an artistic medium that I can best express myself in a creative way. I’ve done art, but I hit a certain threshold with my skill that trying to surpass it would not be a challenge that brings joy or satisfaction. I’ve done writing  but I’m not the type to output stories and ideas at a pace that would sustain me as a career. Film provided an outlet for me to put my artistic background into a medium that I enjoy even on the hardest and most tiring days. Not only that, with film being more and more readily available online (at least in the short form), stories can be brought to thousands of people without having to buy it like you do with books or art. Films bring people together in a way that I think other art forms can’t. There’s a visceral feeling we get when we see scenes play out in front of us, when we see characters pour emotions out, or have emotions played out visually with colors, lighting, or scenery. It’s a connective tissue, where people can connect to a story or character, and where people can see themselves in a film. That’s why it’s so important, because it tells stories that may otherwise not be told. But also, just to get less philosophical, they’re sometimes just fun to watch! It can provide an escape from our boring lives and sometimes we just need a good comedy or action flick to cheer us up or get us amped up. Film can do a lot for us, whether it’s providing a place to reflect on our own lives, or just making us laugh with a group of friends.


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