Quiet on Set

In the film and media studies major, there are two tracks: production and critical studies. Film itself is a tiny major, though (I think) most students are production. So I’m in this teeny tiny minority of critical studies students. I love it, and I still get to flex my creative muscles by taking a few production classes.

A cornerstone of the film education, though, is working on set. My experience doing so is… small. Other than my time spent in the behind-the-scenes world on the executive board of Studio North (Hopkins’ student-run film studio, of which I was a founding chair!), my time on set has been nominal. It’s been helping a friend here, helping a friend there, stepping in to slate when a PA has gone MIA.

An insanely talented classmate of mine, Julia, tapped me to serve as Art Director for her film, though. I was so super excited because I one day hope to go into art direction of some kind, and this felt like great hands-on experience. Plus, I love her whole aesthetic and attitude and I knew we would work well together.

She sent over the script, and we had a couple meetings to hammer out the overall production design and look for the film. After a few whirlwind weeks of sourcing props, examining location photos, and strategizing things, it was shoot time.

Our crazy-talented Director of Photography used a fog machine to achieve this dreamy look.

Our crazy-talented Director of Photography used a fog machine to achieve this dreamy look.

I arrived on set and met the whole crew who I’d be working with. It was this awesome conglomeration of talented people from all over; a bunch of Hopkins kids, some MICA kids, some Towson kids, etc etc. Julia did a great job of harnessing the whole Baltimore creative network. This is something that is so important in the arts and something that, I think, Hopkins does an awesome job of. It’s especially easy with the MICA co-op to meet up with other awesome film people. I especially hit it off with a girl from Towson, and I may be helping out with her thesis film. Pretty awesome!

There were 5 actors for this film, three of whom are SAG affiliated, one of whom has been in John Waters films. I was personally responsible for painting his face with blue icing. This was actually a really, really important job. It’s central to the plot and look of the film, and a main gag throughout. Also, the icing had to look consistent between takes and shoot days for continuity.


One of my favorite scenes from the whole film.

Some other highlights included converting a completely empty, bare bedroom into a fully designed set, icing four identical cakes as props, undoing and redoing several entire bookshelves, and eating free Chipotle.

After something like… 25? hours on set in one weekend, it was a wrap. The final film is gonna be around 10 minutes long. It was a fantastic lesson in how much work goes into film. We had 5 actors, around 10 crew members, and three shoot days for this one short film. It truly takes a village, and everyone was so supportive and eager to make Julia’s vision come to life. We were even shooting in the film department chair’s own home.

The film will debut sometime at the end of the school year at Studio North’s annual Premiere at the Charles Theatre. Ch-ch-check it out.

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Lighting was difficult on Day 2 because it was overcast (unlike Day 1!!). This bookshelf also shaved years off my life… our professor has it meticulously alphabetized and organized, and we had to perfectly replicate it after taking everything out!


Planning It Out

Internships are scary!

Scratch that. I’ve had amazing experiences with internships, it’s just that the real world is scary! And internships are just a reminder of post-college life.

I, a girl who sleeps with a nightlight, am certainly not ready to be responsible for taxes and commuting and all that jazz.

Except… maybe I am?

After a poorly timed quarter-life crisis (is there ever a good time to question your existence and the meaning of it?), I did some soul searching. I’ve always been someone with so many interests—and, luckily, who has been pretty good and successful at these interests. I was having a hard time venn diagram-ing what I liked + what I was good at + what I actually wanted to do for a living.

First, it was screenwriting. Then it was advertising. For a moment, it was production design. Then, in a fit of artistic rebellion that hasn’t quite ended, art school and a graphic design career. Then marketing. Then briefly graphic design again, though maybe in an advertising setting.

I think I’ve found the answer though (God help me, for now): wedding and event planning.

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I’m such a visual and creative person, and I don’t want to work a 9-5 desk job. I want to flex my creative and design muscles, and exercise my knowledge of marketing, without damaging my eyes from staring at a computer screen. I want to have a job that I love and that makes me want to work long hours—not because of office culture or the stress of the industry. I want a job where I can be completely, unequivocally, me.

It took a huge leap of faith for me to shed my pre-conceived notions of what I was supposed to be doing. I mean, Hopkins gives you a ton of exposure and connections, but I can’t speak to how many of my peers have said, “Oh, my aunt works in wedding planning! I’ll put you two in touch.”

I drafted a brand new cover letter, converted my portfolio into a design and event portfolio, and updated my resume. Then I just started emailing.

After a few back-and-forths with different companies and a couple of meetings, I figured it out.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 2.16.12 PMThe internship that I have this summer, as a summer associate with Karson Butler Events in DC, feels like a friendly and warm harbinger of post-college life. I also secured a generous grant with Hopkins’ Second Decade Society. A lot of my anxieties—professional, financial, or existential—have been assuaged.

I’m working my first wedding on May 7th, and I travelled down to Alexandria, Virginia the other week to attend a walkthrough of the venue and meet the bride and catering team. The bride is wonderful, the property is absolutely beautiful, and my supervisor gave me an amazing lay of the land. I’m so excited to help with day-of operations, from the arrangement of the donut cake to the directing of the shuttles to logistics at dinnertime.

If that walkthrough was any foreshadow of how this summer is going to be, it’s going to be amazing. And not at all scary (except for Union Station—those tour buses drive without mercy).

As someone who has been totally not freaking out about her impending graduation, I feel a sense of peace. With my quarter-life crisis behind me, a sense of assurance about my career goals, and a dream internship, I’m ready to rock my last summer as a student and intern.

I’m Certainly Uncertain (or at least I’m pretty sure I am)

It’s getting coffee from Brody instead of Alkimia. It’s not being afraid to decipher Kant. It’s learning a new Adobe program. It’s taking a new path to class. It’s adopting a different eating schedule. It’s trying a friend’s neutral nail polish instead of my favorite bright red. It’s beginning work next week. It’s overloading on classes. It’s deciding to rush. It’s letting the desk get untidy. It’s lightening up. It’s letting go.


We can pretend I didn’t edit this a little.

I know that everyone rolls their eyes at the teenage girl adage “new year, new me.” And I hate to ever relate to a cliché Facebook status, but I’m kind of feeling it—just replace “new year” with “new semester.”

Last semester was comfortable and happy and successful, but as someone who’s always loved—favored, even—change, a new semester is not only refreshing but welcomed. I’ve found that as my daily class schedule has changed, so have my attitudes, my habits. As a lover of change, it’s nice to settle into a brand new routine. It almost feels like starting clean.

I’m definitely not the kind of person who is easily intimidated (I tend to forget that I’m a 5’0” Italian girl most often referred to as “little one”), but like everyone, I have things that make my heart go pitter-patter and not in a happy butterfly way.

I’m finding, though, that things that once would have made me nervous or frustrated are starting to feel exciting and easy. It’s strange; I love change, but I’ve always hated uncertainty. Example: I’ll dye my hair crazy colors, chop it all off. But when a restaurant says they’ve run out of the dish I ordered—oof. Nightmarish.

One thing that will never change: my coffee shop order. Whattup soy chai.

One thing that will never change: my coffee shop order. Whattup soy chai.

I’m a planner; I’m a person who organizes expectations. I’m laid-back, but spontaneity makes me anxious. It’s an odd dichotomy, but totally legitimate; I scored in the perfect one-specific-point No Man’s Land of a Type A/Type B Personality Test that I took in AP Psych. I like my little neutral ground.

I’m an obsessive logistics director, an unabashed micro-manager, an overseer concerned with the general order and progression of things. At the same time, I’m calm and collected, cool as a cucumber. (Maybe I’m flattering myself.) Change, when planned and calculated and under control, is wonderful. Change, in its surprise and insecurity and chaos, is terrifying.

College, somehow, has introduced me perfectly to this brand new concept of uncertainty. College has familiarized me with the whole “wrench-in-the-plan” thing. And it’s helped me to acquaint myself with the unpredictability of the real world.

I really wouldn't mind a little adventure with this perfect view.

I really wouldn’t mind a little adventure with this perfect view.

College has taught me to smile not just at change, but uncertainty, too. I’m learning that uncertainty is just another species of change—just instead it’s an adventure, not a plan.

Small steps: it’s making detours on the way home from class, it’s not panicking when it’s raining and I’ve forgotten my jacket, it’s putting this weird agave syrup in my tea instead of honey. It’s me sitting on the marble steps of Shriver in the pouring rain, laughing to myself because I totally ate it leaving my rush party. It’s dancing and singing along with “Timber” as my hallmate plays it for the third hour straight (this is not made-up.)

I’ve always loved to try new things under my own powers and deliberate choices. I’m fearless with trying new foods (ever had kangaroo? It’s like really tender steak), exploring new places, meeting new people. I’ve even always been pretty darn good at rolling with the punches—like I said, laid-back.

Visual representation of how well my friends and I are together.

Visual representation of how perfectly my friends and I go together.

And while I’m adept at adapting, it’s never been my favorite. I’m learning to love to adjust. I’m learning to enjoy my evolution. I’m learning not how to smooth ruffled feathers, but how to slick them back so they never shake.

I’m learning to appreciate the unknown, to dive into the unfamiliar. I’m expanding my horizons. I’m plunging.

So, whatever, cliché teenage motto: new semester, new experiences, new me.

PS I know this isn’t an AIM profile and I shouldn’t be publishing angsty lyrics, but thanks Modest Mouse for the title. I ran out of clever ways to say uncertain.