Many students do not quite know what life after college entails, but recently graduated alumna Chelsea Mayer’s love of film has paved the path down which her post-grad goals will lead her. This summer will already be a busy one for Mayer as she undertakes a variety of projects, serving in positions such as director of photography, camera operator and script supervisor.
While it is common for UCLA students to change majors multiple times during their undergraduate years, Mayer found the film major to be one that is very flexible and allows her to explore her interests.
“I thought when I went to film school I wanted to be a director, but I realized I like cinematography better after being DP (director of photography) on my friend’s film,” Mayer said. “People seem to have an easy time relating to the images. … It’s something that people notice. For me, it was just easier to know how to do that well and do it the way that people relate to.”
Mayer’s thesis film, titled “A Healthy Relationship,” takes a look behind the scenes of the film industry through the point of view of personal assistants. According to undergraduate film production Professor David Worth, Mayer’s frank style in portraying the lifestyle, language and characters’ take on their situations was impressive in its maturity.
“I especially liked the fact that, during the process, the film took on a different shape in every step,” Worth said. “I was very impressed with her work overall and how she developed her concept from script through shooting and through editing. … She was very open to seeing the material and finding excellent ways to change it and make it better.”
With upcoming summer plans to be the camera operator on Worth’s horror feature, the script supervisor for another film in August and the director of photography for fellow recently graduated alumna Susanna Ericsson’s movie “The Timing of Love,” Mayer said the most valuable thing she has taken from film school is the ability to work with other creative film enthusiasts.
“We’re always making movies outside of class, figuring out who you work with best and who is in line with your vision,” Mayer said. “I think amassing a group of people who also like making movies the way I like to make them is probably the best thing I’ve taken away because it means so much for the future.”
According to Worth, Mayer’s eagerness to get involved with any project that she sees as a potential learning experience has left professors and peers alike labeling her as a team player.
“She allows me to be myself and do crazy things which other DPs would restrict with their own visions of what they want,” Ericsson said. “We have the same kind of freedom in the camera and film.”
Worth said that Mayer’s flexibility on and off camera has left him confident that she will go a long way in the film industry. With equipment having changed so drastically in recent years ““ from Final Cut Pro, to handheld HD cameras, to the Internet ““ Worth stresses that any hopeful filmmaker must be ready to go down his or her own uncharted path.
Worth said that he articulates this point to his students by telling them, “Look, we prepare you in film school. We give you all the basics and we hope that you go off and do a big $40 million film with Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese. But if that doesn’t happen, we want you to be prepared to be an entrepreneurial filmmaker.”
By working with friends and alumni to make their own small productions, Mayer is focused on harnessing the resources given to her by the School of Theater, Film and Television in beginning her career as an entrepreneurial filmmaker.
“In 10 years, I hope I’m still making movies. “¦ If I can be director of photography on movies that actually pay me to do it, that would be amazing,” Mayer said. “It’s what I love, and I don’t see myself being happy doing anything else.”