My Evolving Identity Through My Internship

Film in Hollywood is a notoriously diverse business, and like most arts it tends to be made up of a wide-birth of creators that represent identities from all over the world. Especially given things like the MeToo movement in the last year, the idea of respecting and asserting personal identities as something to be celebrated is becoming an even bigger trend in Hollywood than before.

I work for FilmNation Entertainment, a company whose mission statement is to create high quality film that also conveys a humane message. Consider a movie like Arrival, which expresses the importance of proper communication and how to interact with very different individuals. Or something like The Imitation Game, which discusses what it means to be patriotic toward a nation that does not accept your sexual orientation.

As a white male at the University of Michigan, I feel like I am often marginalized as someone who is not passionate for these sorts of issues. But a major part of why I study film is because I want to be a storyteller for a diverse set of ideas. And though I may not have the same personal experiences with discrimination as others, I believe that all humans can understand happiness and pain, acceptance and rejection.

As I continue my internship and participate in discussions surveying the viability of a film project, the type of story and its potential impact reign supreme as reasons to proceed or not. Film creates impact through the relationship between the story it tells and the story of who is watching it. Because of this, and particularly at FilmNation, factors of personal identity like sex, race, religion, class, and other individuating elements are absolutely integral when considering how to develop a project.

In my own work, I find myself shifting from simply writing stories that I felt were interesting and I could tell, to trying to include more topically relevant ideas and convey underlying meaning that is philosophically relatable to viewers. Film to me is a means of emotional experience and communication, and I find that my contributions to that goal are evolving to the greater level that they need to in order for me to find success.

My key motivation has always been to inspire audiences the same way other filmmakers have inspired me. And I am shifting from an intrinsic source of creativity to drawing more from the extrinsic world that I am working -and existing- within.

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