Preparing for your Media Arts Department Audition

Preparing for your Media Arts Department Audition

Five Qualities of a Successful Media Artist

Jessi Meliza
Chair, Media Arts Department

What does it mean to audition as a writer, filmmaker, or animator? We’ll be looking at your past work, in addition to some of your written thoughts on media that you already consume. So what are we looking for when we finally get a chance to meet you?

A successful media artist is curious about the world around them.

A key component to telling stories in all of our respective disciplines (filmmaking, creative writing, and animation) is observation. A keen eye (or ear) for observation is the most valuable skill that can lead you to meaningful, relatable art. Whether you are studying the movement of a walk, or overhearing snippets of a conversation to provide you with the building blocks of a character, being aware of the world around you strengthens your practice as an artist.

A successful media artist solves problems creatively.

Pretend that you have $100 million to create a project. You might buy the nicest cameras and lighting, hire the best support staff, cast the most talented actors, and film in the vastest locations. But even with all of those resources, a filmmaker needs to always be inventing new ways to translate a vision to the screen. This is true even of our best writers and animators. To create the best work, artists need to be ready to use any tool available. To an animator, a roll of plastic wrap becomes an ocean. To a writer, the back of an antique phonebook becomes the population of a fictional village. No matter the scale, an artist will always need to hone their skills by overcoming obstacles.

A successful media artist consumes media critically.

When you sit down to read a new book, you open your mind to someone else’s experiences and ideas. It can be a real pleasure to lose yourself in a fantastical tale or to be swept up in an interpersonal drama between characters from another time. Keep in mind, though, that different creators have their own experiences, ideas, and agendas when making work. How do these things apply directly to your life? How do they reflect the wider world around you? What techniques does the artist use to portray these things? What inspires you to try something new in your own work? Are you responding, or are you mimicking the things that you notice?

A successful media artist is driven to tell stories.

Stories come in many packages. Some of the most intriguing stories can be difficult to understand on the first try, while others are very clear. Each of our areas of study have storytelling in common. Our most successful students take time to learn the techniques and principles of the different “submajors”. Some of us tell stories loudly and excitedly, standing in front of a group and waving our hands to make a point. Others of us take the time away from the crowd, crafting a tale with interesting visuals or evocative language. No matter what we put into the world, we are striving to make connections.

A successful media artist is always experimenting.

Have you ever filled a casserole dish with milk, water, and dish soap, and then added food coloring drop-by-drop? It looks like colorful fireworks, exploding soundlessly on your kitchen counter. Now imagine all of the other things that you can make with the staples in your pantry. What if you were to extend your search to the junk drawer in your kitchen, or the garage, or the neighborhood corner store? What about the aisles and aisles of tools and doo-dads and clamp lights in a big-box hardware store? Keeping an open mind to expanding the form or the structure of your work will help you to learn and make exciting discoveries.