Faculty Shout-Out by Dr. Kaveh Askari:
“In his work with me, Garrett has demonstrated an intellectual curiosity for a broad range of courses and an ability to produce valuable creative work in just about any opportunity that emerges. I relied on Garrett’s generosity (as many of us have) throughout the recruitment season to provide a student’s perspective on the program. I am excited to see what he does with current projects in Michigan and Cambodia, and I look forward to hearing news about the next phase of his career in Los Angeles.”
Faculty Shout-Out by Professor Pete Johnston: “Garrett’s intelligence, humility, sense of humor, and creative capacity are such a treasure. It’s been a joy to get to know him better and get the chance to work with him, both inside and outside the classroom. I’m not at all surprised that he was in high demand for graduate film programs; he’s an integral part of the next generation of storytellers. I feel proud to know him now at the beginning of what I’m sure will be a long and impressive career.”
Faculty Shout-Out by Dr. Bill Vincent: “Garrett took two of my classes–Advanced Screenwriting and a senior seminar based on the films in the Spring 2021 Film Collective. In the first he demonstrated great creativity and skill in writing a script based on the early life of Michael Jackson. His work in the seminar. both written and oral, was exemplary–eloquent, intelligent, and incisive.”
How would you describe your time as an English or Film Studies major at MSU?
There is no way of hiding it that my time at MSU has not been an easy and typical experience. There were mental health hardships and a pandemic made it feel the world was a bit against me receiving a degree. But being here in the Film Studies department eased and removed that worry with the amount of support and guidance of professors. In sophomore year, I had no confidence in my filmmaking where I almost gave up and went into accounting, and I suck at math. But a screenwriting class with Rick Blackwood and finding the film lab where I met one of my closest friends to this day reinvigorated my passion. Ever since, I have been just going for it and building the confidence that I had once lost from a “wonderful” mix of racial inequality, lack of belief in my skills, or just plain ol’ haters. It has led me to this point…
Which classes, instructors, or experiences particularly stand out for you and why? How did they prepare you for the next phase of your life?
I cannot exactly say a singular class, professor, or experience stands out because they have all been integral parts of my education. They have all prepared me for the next phase of life by being different approaches to teaching film while maintaining a similar topic; the ability to take in all the readings, films, and even life experiences and apply them.
What advice would you give future English or Film Studies majors, based on your experiences in the department?
Some advice I would give to future majors is to trust your gut and be confident in what you do, say, and create. There will always be an opposing force who will try to stop you or hinder you in doing your best, do not let them. Also, know how to balance yourself. Life is crazy enough so if you can, manage your time and stress in order to pull the best from you.
What coursework-related projects were/are you working on this year, and what interests or excites you about them?
The biggest project of the year has been the Fiction Filmmaking capstone “The Broken Diamond” I have been working on. As a camera operator, it has been an intriguing experience to learn and work on a larger crew and film. Outside of that, I have been working on my short film “Ignored” as an independent study as the director and writer. Crazy, I know, to do in my senior year but it has been a welcoming challenge. Balancing two massive projects has put me in a place to learn my strengths and find the perfect balance as a creative. I cannot say there have been moments of ease because it would be a lie. But, that is the beauty of filmmaking; the ability to mess up, struggle and create beauty from it and about it.
What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation?
Wow… discussing hopes and aspirations post-grad is a scary question. I can start off by saying I have completed the first hope and goal I have had since high school by attending the UCLA TFT program for screenwriting in Fall 2023. That is the first step of many in my post-undergraduate life because, after that, I do not know what is in store for me. My biggest aspiration is to be happy in everything I do and creating dynamic films celebrating the everyperson for the good, bad and the ugly through film is what makes me happy. So, attending film school in Los Angeles is a door that is open to a house of endless possibilities that I cannot wait to explore.
If you’re interested in doing so, please reflect a bit on the strange experience of being a graduating senior during the ongoing pandemic. What resources have been most useful to you in navigating this unprecedented situation?
Being a senior during a pandemic has been difficult as a filmmaker, so working in smaller groups has been an interesting challenge. It has made it for me to build skills outside of writing and directing I would not have time for if the pandemic did not happen. A resource for me during the pandemic that was extremely helpful was the film lab. To most, it was assumed to be closed, but it was open for a good bulk of the pandemic where there were chances to check out equipment to go out and film. Film has always been my happy, secure place so having the lab open felt I still had a safe place during a time of uncertainty.