Friday, February 15, 2013

So What CAN You Do With a History Major?--Part 42

Become a documentary filmmaker.

Michael Rossi has a B.A. and M.A. in history from Boston College.  Today he is a freelance documentary filmmaker.  The majority of his work has been with the local Boston PBS station--WGBH.

Over at the website of the Boston College Career Center, Rossi writes about his transition from history major to filmmaker.  Here is a taste:

I certainly did not set out to be a filmmaker upon entering Boston College. Like most students, I spent my days pondering what to major in and how to apply a liberal arts education towards a productive career that would make a difference. I eventually decided to major in history, feeling that it would provide me the most balanced liberal arts education. The more I studied, the more I realized there was a lot I didn’t learn while growing up in a small suburban town. I wanted to find a way to bring these stories to someone like myself back in my hometown. Sophomore year, while sitting in Professor Karen Miler’s African American History class in O’Neill Library, I decided motion picture was the most effective way to do it. I figured some things would have to be sacrificed in order to reach a large audience – you can’t make a film about some of the extraordinarily in-depth topics explored by historians – but the payoff of that large audience would be worth it.

The only problem was, I had no idea where to start. BC did not have a formal film program at the time. I decided the best thing to do was to propose making a documentary film for my history Honors Thesis. Professor Andrew Buni was brave enough to agree to be my thesis advisor, supporting the unorthodox idea of making a film. But he was pretty blunt in saying that he knew nothing about filmmaking. An internship at Cramer Productions, a company in Norwood, MA, helped me brush up on technical stuff – how to shoot B-roll, what the difference between a gaffer and key grip was, the language and vibe of being on live studio sets and on location, the ins and outs of edit suites and audio gear. I learned a lot. I landed another internship at WGBH, working on Africans in America, a six-hour series about the history of slavery in the United States prior to the Civil War. This amazing opportunity introduced me to what it takes to produce a national production. I was also cast in a few reenactments, which was a lot of fun! Together, these experiences helped me complete my first documentary, a modest history of East Boston.

Read the rest here and here and here. 

If you are not familiar with the "So What CAN You Do With a History Major" series at The Way of Improvement Leads Home, get caught up here.