A Passion for Film: My Life as a Filmmaker



When I was eight, I went to the movie theater for the first time with my mom to see Iron Man 2.  Today, my mother and I still share a laugh because at the end of the movie, I jumped up with my balled up fists in the air and yelled at the top of my lungs “That was awesome!” Everybody behind me clapped and cheered. I’d assume that meant they thought so too.  But for me, this was the beginning of a new passion, and I knew it wasn’t going to change anytime soon. At that tender age, it was the best thing I had ever seen because I fell in love with all aspects of a movie- and trust me, there’s a lot. It wasn’t my typical morning kids show that assumed I needed help counting to 100. It might be hard to believe but Iron Man 2 was definitely the better choice here. I was intrigued with the graphics, the storyline, even the actors. It sparked my imagination to explore everything that went into the making of a movie. Because of Iron Man 2, I was inspired to research how they were able to use green screens to make something look real. I was smart enough to know that it had to be a computer, but I didn’t understand how. With the help of my Ipad and some Google searches, I was fascinated with what I learned. I decided one day that I wanted to try and make my own films. What’s not shown on my list of extracurricular activities and high school classes, is all the time I’ve devoted to researching cinematography and filmmaking techniques in general. The first time I tried my hand at cinematography, I wrote and filmed a 5 minute short film with my friends at the park. It wasn’t very good, but we were 9 and excited so in the moment I was Spielberg. 

One thing a lot of people know about me is that I do not give up without a fight. Growing up in Chicago, Illinois, you learn a few things about segregation, mistreatment and pure racism. Most people wouldn’t think of Chicago as a segregated place, but they say that after visiting for a week. I've been fairly untreated for my being a black girl so many times it would be difficult to count. I grew up in a predominantly white area and people seemed to get intimidated when they saw a black girl getting A’s, being at the top of the class and winning awards; they thought I didn't deserve it - They thought I didn’t work for it, when in actuality, what they didn’t see (or chose not to) is the fact that I worked twice as hard as they did. Whenever I could learn from something, that’s what I was doing. All of my energy was focused on bettering myself and my craft.

I began to make movies everywhere, with anyone who would comply. I got pretty good at filmmaking and photography for my age because I never let my camera out of my hand. I love working with people because half of the time, other peoples’ ideas would make for an even better project.  Although I’ve worked with a lot of people, I never felt like I got the same experiences as some of my white friends. I knew I put in just as much work and even more time into my craft than they did but I felt like I was still one step behind. I’ll never complain though. Experiences like these helped me develop an outstanding work ethic. I wrote stories upon stories ranging from simple ones about an American family - to my own little ‘Game of Thrones’ rewrites with dragons and potions. I experimented with angles, zooms, colors, lighting, everything I could think of that was new or what I hadn’t seen much of in films. I wanted to stand out. Though, I did not want to stand out as another black girl, but as Morgan Holman, the Cinematographer who might one day help to change the film industry like Hattie McDaniel or Whoopi Goldberg, two icons who transformed the film industry and who inspire me a great amount.

However, even with all the inspirations out there, I am most inspired by my mother. She went to college to get her Bachelor's degree while pregnant with me. My father wasn't present often in the beginning of my life. I’m forever grateful for my mother because even when we were homeless, she persevered. She did anything and everything she could so that we could both survive. She worked 3 jobs a day, went to school, always found a way to put clothes on my back, food in my stomach, and she never failed to make me laugh. When she uncovered my passion for film, we moved to San Francisco, California where I am currently graduating early from Oakland School for the Arts. My mother is now the CEO of Center for Youth Wellness, a company dedicated to serving low income families of the San Francisco Bay Area. So, if there’s anyone I’m inspired most by, it's not Ron Howard or Quintin Tarentino or any great mind who’s behind the screen. It's Gatanya Arnic of Chicago, Illinois and I know she’s proud of me too.

As I grow older, my passion for filmmaking becomes greater and greater. I don’t know everything about the art of making films, but that’s why I want to learn. I want to learn from professionals and from my peers because what I’ve figured out on this journey is that everyone knows something you don’t. The reason I chose City University of New York is because if I am accepted, I will be around the brightest, most diverse minds in the world and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a black filmmaker, it’s that you’ve got to surround yourself with people who think similarly to you, but differently enough that you’re always inspired to think in a new light. I am a hard working student who’s always open to trying something new. .  I’m always prepared, ready to listen, learn and take action. All of my achievements, awards and congratulations came because I’m talented, smart, and unquestionably dedicated to all areas of my education. I try to be the very best I can, and I learn from my mistakes every time. I’m a great problem solver and I’m always ready for what’s ahead. Like I said before, I don't give up without a fight. I believe CUNY is the right school for me and I believe I have a lot to offer.