When I came to CalArts I had limiting preconceptions about how to achieve the kinds of dramatic effects I wanted in my films. The faculty helped by pointing out precisely where I had missed opportunities in editing a scene, or possible moves for the characters that I hadn’t considered—always pushing me to look deeper at the mechanics of a story, at the consequences of my casting choices, and to think 10 moves in advance when staging action for the camera.
Most other schools teach skills, which are important, and are, of course, taught at CalArts, but these are only a means to an end. You can learn technical skills almost anywhere, but I think only CalArts seeks out students with something to say and helps them find ways to say it. You’re not just encouraged to take risks here—you’re expected to. And the Program helps you find the courage.