Rejection and Inspiration

Hi everyone, I hope you all have been enjoying the weekend so far! So, recently someone asked me what inspired me to pursue film as a career and was there a certain film that did so. When I was asked that question, it made me reflect on what has led me to this point in my life. There wasn’t a specific moment or time when I said “You’re going to be a filmmaker Madison.” I had always loved writing, theater and movies, and as I grew up, I saw how much impact these art forms had on me and others. I became actively involved in theater and loved the acting, writing and directing aspect of it the most. And over time during high school, that passion for telling stories and reaching an audience through emotions, translated into my decision to major in film. I loved theater, but felt film had a broader of field of opportunities.

This fall, I applied for the film school at UCF and a couple months ago I found out I didn’t get in. Of course, they only accept 30 kids out of over a 100 applicants, and I will apply again next year, but I was nevertheless upset. I felt I chose the wrong thing to pursue, I thought I lacked talent and would never make it as a filmmaker. The little voice inside my had reminded me of my passion for activism and politics and the possibility of political science, but my heart had always said film.

And as of right now, I am thinking it all over and exploring options. In the meantime, to answer the person’s second question, no there isn’t one film in particular. There are a few that actually have inspired me, both in my decision to major in film, and in my passion for activism. So I thought I’d share a few of those films.


This is THE documentary that opened my eyes to the plight of sharks and the horrors of the shark fin industry. I never thought about sharks as being endangered or exploited; it’s the dolphins and the whales that get all the attention. But thank god my marine bio teacher junior year showed us this film. I cried throughout the whole thing and by the end I understood sharks in a completely different way. It sparked my interest in shark conservation, and now I am a big advocate for sharks and informant on the shark fin industry.


I had a rough time in high school. Add mental illness to hormones and it made everything worse. By junior year,  I was severely depressed. I read the book and was deeply affected by it. I remember watching the film, when it came out later in the year and crying for almost an hour after it ended. I was Charlie- having issues adjusting to high school, feeling like an outcast, and dealing with mental illness, but not really knowing what to do about it.I decided to tell my parents what was going on and how close I was to giving up. They were supportive and got me help right away. Then, this fall, I re-watched Perks and cried again, but for a different reason. Charlie made it. He realized he could participate in life and he found peace with himself. And I had done the same. It was a really powerful moment to compare where I was two years ago watching this film to were I am now. It was a book/film which got me through those years.


I saw this with my mom when it came out, and was incredibly moved by it. The cinematography inspired me and was my introduction to Emmanuel Lubezki’s work, as well as Malick’s. I was in awe of the visuals and the cinematography influenced my taste in films, as well as the style of my own photography and videos. This film is absolutely incredible and a visually stunning gem.


I was familiar with Woody Allen’s work before seeing this and I considered him one of the greats as far as film makers go. But this doc gave me an even deeper insight into his creative process and his early career. I got a closer look at his style of directing and how his personal life influenced the type of films he made. After seeing this, I came to appreciate him and his work even more- aside from the scandal that has plagued him. I sought out more of his films to watch and study, and now I count him in my top ten of favorite directors/writers.


This isn’t a film, it’s a tv series, but it’s one of the biggest influences on my recent focus in documentary/investigative film. When this came out, I was about a sophomore in high school, and becoming very opinionated and passionate about american policies, politics and world events. So, naturally I gravitated to this show, as it is about covering hard hitting news around the world, investigating corruption and social/environmental issues. VICE opened my eyes even more to this world of social activism, of people going to the front line of controversy, despite how risky it is.


Ok, so obviously Steven Spielberg isn’t a film, but I thought I’d end with a man who has inspired me countless times. He is, I will say, a filmmaker that sparked my passion for becoming a filmmaker. I remember watching E.T. for the first time in 5th grade or so; it was my first Spielberg film and I was captivated. A year or so later, I viewed Jurassic Park for the first time and I fell in love with it. It was then, I made a goal to see every Spielberg film, and when I saw Saving Private Ryan, my romance with Steven was official. I was inspired by how varied his films were, and how he could successfully create a child fantasy like E.T. and then make a film like Schindler’s List. His films also introduced me to John Williams, who is now probably my favorite film score composer. Spielberg can be credited to forming my interest, as a kid, in telling stories with themes of humanity, inner character struggles, and fantastical elements. I don’t care what pretentious film majors say, he is amazing and so what if he makes more commercially successful films than the indie types. I love him nonetheless. 


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