Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Maria Corso: Finding Film pt. 2

CASL Alum Maria Corso shares more in part 2 of "Finding Film". She discusses her love of directing, her first film, and why passion is so important...

When I started at UM Dearborn in the fall of 2008, I was undecided as to what exact area of film I wanted to pursue. I had done theater both inside school and outside since the seventh grade and out of that had evolved a deep love for cinema. I knew film was it, I just didn’t know what part of it yet. There are so many different jobs from pre to post production and choosing felt like a massive decision to undertake. Even upon graduating, I had under my belt all this great film, television, and journalism knowledge that I had acquired and still couldn’t quite narrow it down.

 Finally I decided on producing. After my internship, however, I realized that it wasn’t for me. It was far too focused on monetary decisions as opposed to creative decisions. During my last few summers in college, Michigan’s film industry was growing steadily. I worked on multiple productions as a background extra
(basically you are paid to populate a scene, surrounding the main actors and trying to make it look as realistic as possible). While I was no longer interested in acting, extra work allowed me to be a silent observer of all things happening on set-seeing how directors work, writers work, lighting, cinematography, etc.

 After my internship ended, I realized being on set was what made me most excited. I set out to gain experience as a production assistant (you’re responsible for going on runs, helping organize background extras, and doing any other general on set duties as needed). I thought through this work I could ultimately work my way up to being an assistant director and ultimately that was where I wanted to end up.

By 2017, I had done some production assistant work and still had the plan to be an assistant director, when I had a realization. Every time I was on a set, I saw myself watching the director more closely than any other crew member and saying to myself 'I could do that…but better.' Directing was what I had wanted to do all along-it just took me awhile to get there (experience wise, knowledge wise, and through my own mental blocks). It took me until the summer of 2017 (five years after I had moved to Los Angeles) in order to decide on not just becoming a director, but the first story I wanted to tell.

 I directed my first short film December 2017. The shoot took place over three days, with an all female crew on location in Los Angeles. We raised half the money through Indiegogo and the rest came through me personally (credit cards aren’t the best, but they are good to help you make your passion project!). Although I felt incredibly prepared (we had planned out everything, rented gear, etc.), upon Day 1 of arriving on set, I was incredibly nervous. I just wanted to do a good job and for everyone to have an enjoyable time on set. And of course, for the movie to be good. I’m not usually a quiet person, but for the first time I felt myself being quieter than usual. I was out of my element. I had never professionally directed before-I wanted to respect everyone’s job and give them space. But I had to learn that as the director, I have to be the most vocal. As the day went on and the shoot progressed, I began to feel at ease. I was more vocal about what I
wanted and didn’t want. I listened to opinions but ultimately I made decisions. I created an environment that was controlled, but allowed everyone to be creative and be their best.

We are in the editing phase now and looking at the footage, I’m incredibly proud of not just myself, but of every single person who worked on the project. I’ve had the members of the crew and cast reach out to me and my producers saying it was one of the most relaxed and enjoyable sets they had ever been on. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to surround yourself with passionate people. Passionate about their personal role on the project, but also passionate about the project itself.