A picture of a cathedral-like building at the University of Sydney
The beautiful University of Sydney

When I first came to Conn, I thought I was going to double major in theater and psychology. I love acting, wanted to understand how people worked to better inform my characters, and most of all wanted to bring those two passions together.

My trajectory quickly changed when I discovered film studies. I have been a cinephile my entire life. I started watching movies as soon as I could understand them and grew up on “Friends” reruns. When I enrolled in Film 101, I started understanding just how intricate the discipline was and how many opportunities lie within the creative side of things. I started expanding my writing and developing screenplays for both feature-length films and potential television series. After polishing some of my work, and declaring my film studies major, I learned about the production side of classes. I wanted to dive straight into that aspect of the major but by the time I decided to do that the class was already full.

In the spring, when I applied to the University of Sydney for my semester abroad, I had another chance. I discovered that the university has a college dedicated to studying the arts, both digital and paper. The College of Arts offered a plethora of film classes for the semester I was away, but the one that stood out to me most was Screenwriting and Directing. Fast-forward to my actual semester abroad and it became clear that missing the chance to enroll in Conn’s screenwriting class actually paved my fate in an unexpected way.

During my time in the Australian screenwriting course, I learned about everything from formatting to structural guidelines. We were tasked with writing one seven-page screenplay for the first half of the semester and, while that may sound like an easy feat, it proved to be one of the most challenging assignments in my academic career. It’s not that coming up with a story was hard, or that writing dialogue was particularly taxing. Instead, the real challenge was adhering to all the rules set in place. Writing for the screen is its own art form. It is vastly different from writing a short story or novel. It is about showing and not telling in every way—from writing instructions for the visual presentation to the words characters speak. What I learned in Screenwriting and Directing focused on the proper way to bring a short film to life on the page.

When I returned to Conn, I had the opportunity to take the screenwriting class I missed out on as a sophomore. I jumped at the chance to enroll it so I could dive deeper. While my Australian screenwriting class emphasized screenplay conventions, my screenwriting course here at Conn has gone a step further. In our course, we have to submit four separate drafts of two scripts—so eight drafts in total—and provide feedback on each other’s work in a constructive setting. Despite the fact that class has only gone on for four weeks I have already amassed an innumerable amount of screenwriting knowledge.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, from 1:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m., I furiously write down everything Professor Ross Morin says. As I look ahead to this upcoming summer and my senior year and graduation (yikes!) down the line, I feel comfort in the fact that I am so deliberately building my skills. My feedback sessions for screenwriting will undoubtedly catapult me far in the film world.