I need help with my USC SCA personal statement (animation BA)

lea b

New Member
I really don't have anything to write about besides how filmmaking has impacted my life in a positive way, which i know is pretty generic. here's my essay so far:
(some background info, i made two short films and im putting them in my portfolio section, and theyre 5 minutes in total. is that bad?)

For most of my life at school, I would often doodle during class, which makes teachers pick on me to answer questions to make sure I’m paying attention, or they completely ignore me, which was my goal. But I remember one time where it didn’t work that way: quite a few years ago, my class was learning about the history of the northeast, and my teacher called on random people to draw each modern day NYC borough. Eventually it became my turn to draw Brooklyn and Queens on the board.


As I got up, I remember my classmates talking about how I would probably draw the most accurate map in the world, and put everyone else to shame. I heard hints of contempt in their whispers as I held the black whiteboard marker. So in a rush, I drew what looked like the side of a droopy elephant face to the right of someone else’s really accurate Manhattan, and ran back to my seat with flushed cheeks and eyes glued to the floor. The class was silent, and I could feel the disappointment coming from my teacher’s eyes, as well as a mix of silent laughter and pity from around me.


At school I was often called “the artist”, as well as “the kid with issues” behind closed doors. People who saw me creating characters in my sketchbook would ask, “why not write about yourself instead of creating characters to write about?” Well, I was never the kind of person to fully put myself out there, or put myself in my work, because I knew someone would have something to say. In short, I was always afraid of judgement, and to an extent I still am. Instead of expressing my emotions under my own name, I do so through the stories I write, and the characters I create.


When I made my first film, “Gerard and the Plane,” I was maybe about 12 or 13 years old. I had just transferred into a new middle school, so I dealt with being “the new kid” for the first time, as well as the changes that come with adolescence. Coming of age, like most “coming of age” characters I’ve come across, wasn’t a good experience for me. I remember not being able to sleep at night for what felt like hours, wondering whether any of my work at school was actually getting me anywhere at all. My life was beginning to feel like a monotonous cycle of tasks, ever increasing in their difficulty due to my ever decreasing energy. I wanted out of that boring routine, of waking up and going to school and coming back to the same house to sleep for hours in the afternoon. I wanted my life to change, in whatever way possible. Most of all, I believe what I truly wanted was an escape.


So when my friend sent me a song called “Strawberry Swing” that she said reminded her of me, I became inspired to make my first animation. I made it as a sort of thank you note for that friend, who saw past the awkward clinginess of my middle school self, as well as a pretty vague and badly made expression of how I was feeling at the time. But did I show this film to anybody? Nope. I thought it was too bad for anyone to like it. I didn’t even tell my friend about it until a few months ago, when I found it as I was digging through my laptop.


Because of that, I’m not sure if I really qualify as a filmmaker. What kind of creator makes movies only to keep them to themselves? I know that my shy, reclusive qualities, as well as my reluctance to speak up, puts me at a disadvantage, especially in the film industry. I once had an art teacher that scared the hell out of me on the first day of school, but well into the first semester she gave me a piece of advice that I haven’t forgotten: “If you’re an artist, you can’t be shy. You’re digging yourself a hole.” How do I get out of a hole that I’ve been digging my whole life?


I’ve always been afraid of being judged, but I’m not afraid of putting myself in my work. I’m not afraid to show my talents anymore, like I was that day I drew the elephant’s face on the whiteboard. I’m still the kind of person who would go under a pen name if I were allowed to, as long as I get to do what I love. I want to make films that connect me to others in a way I can’t do any other way, and also connect others through the messages and ideas I convey through them. I truly believe that without films like “Gerard and the plane” and “Scuba cat”, I wouldn’t be the same person I am today.
 

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