ARTISTA Made a Career in the Arts Seem Tangible

This post is part of a series of reflections about Imago Theatre’s Youth Mentorship Program, ARTISTA, by program mentors and mentees.  Here Katherine Chou (Artista 2014 Participant) reflects on her experience.

For me, ARTISTA was part of an artistic growth spurt that happened during my year in Montreal. It was my final year at university, and the future seemed like a minefield of hostile unknowns. Although I was passionate about filmmaking, I wasn’t sure I could turn my dreams into reality. My experiences in the city with programs like ARTISTA, however, made a career in the arts seem more tangible than it ever had before. By the time summer came around, I was ready to get my foot in the door.My first job after moving home to Los Angeles was a brief stint as a post-production assistant on an HBO movie. This led to working in post-production on another movie at Warner Bros. Each job has presented challenges: navigating the city and the inner workings of a studio, as well as learning industry jargon and the tools of the trade.I’m now working on my second feature at WB, and it definitely brings a unique set of challenges. This movie will be shot and edited on film. It’s bigger than any I’ve worked on before, and I’ll admit to being briefly star struck when I got the job. But the opportunity to work with celluloid was the real draw. On the most unglamorous days, I still get a thrill out of handling 35mm and 70mm prints and getting a peek at the way movies have been made for decades, even if the old machines look hungry for a finger or two.I worry at the start of every movie that I won’t be able to handle what’s coming, but this one was truly intimidating. At the first meeting, I had no idea what anyone was saying. So I told myself that, at the very least, I could sit in on the same meeting in a year’s time and understand every word.When the project wraps – and there are still many months to go – I’d like to produce my own work. I’ve learned a lot in editorial about how a movie is assembled, but there’s a lot in pre-production and production still to be learned. I’d like to become better at negotiating the business aspects of filmmaking, from raising funds and a crew, to distributing my work.In the meantime, my job takes up most of my energy, so I write when I can: in the mornings, on weekends, sometimes while the coding machine clanks about numbering each foot of film. I’m slowly putting together a bank of material. Each word brings me closer to where I want to be: writing and directing stories that fascinate me.

Katherine Chou – Artista 2014