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Posted by Rachel Burt on March 19, 2018
Environmental chemistry major Andrea Ross decided to take a break from studying for her orgo test one day and instead enter a film competition, even though she didn't think it would go anywhere. Months later, after receiving a $5,000 scholarship, a DSLR camera and recognition from the governor of New York for her efforts, she’s glad she did.
Hometown: Mexico, N.Y., a small town off the southeast corner of Lake Ontario
Major: Environmental Chemistry
Clubs: Outdoor Club
Future Goals: To work outside doing something she loves
What made you decide to come to Binghamton?
"For a long time I was undecided about what I wanted to do, and still am to an extent. After visiting and seeing how many options Bing had, I knew it was the option that felt right. The Nature Preserve was also a big plus, and there are a few people I know from back home who went here and they said they loved it too.”
Did your experiences here help you in any way during the filmmaking process?
"Ironically, I did check, and out of all the colleges I had originally applied to (seven total), Binghamton was the only university eligible for the competition, because it has a film department. So if I’d never come here, the whole video would have never happened."
How long did it take to make/edit the film?
“It took me two months to make the video -- June through July. Producing my video for the competition called for a lot of juggling, improvising and sleep deprivation. Each week, I put in 40 hours at the beach over the course of 4.5 days, leaving me 2.5 days off. I would wake up early and come home late to try to film what I could locally on my work days. For my days off, I always made sure I had something planned to go film somewhere with someone ahead of time. I knew this was something I couldn’t do alone, so I asked people I knew for help. My coworkers/friends made up the entire “cast” for the video. I tried to spend my $5,000 as meaningfully as possible. For example, I knew my friends Alyshia and Randy had always wanted to go skydiving; my friend Chase had never been spelunking before. I did my best to use the money to make their wishes a reality, while also getting footage for the video. If we ever ate or stayed somewhere while we were out, I made sure it was a locally owned business. Between working the beach and making the video, I was constantly on the go and working my butt off, and I loved every minute of it. I would do it all again.”
Are you working on any other films at the moment?
“Not currently, as I am buried in books throughout the semester. I do have ideas flowing for a number of videos, but no deadline as to when I plan to complete them. I would actually like to make a video telling the story of this whole I Love NY video experience and what went into making it. My goal is to work on that this summer, as well as a video about my lifeguard fam! All videos I’ve ever made, including my Central NY one, have always been for myself more than anything else.”
How did it feel when you got the news that you’d placed third against so many submissions from film students?
“I was incredibly shocked. I was surprised enough to be advanced to the filming round; I didn’t think I was going to place. The students I were up against go to school for film and are aspiring to be professionals in the industry. They had fancy cameras and somewhat-official production teams. I had no fancy camera and no official crew -- just a couple budget cameras and some adventurous friends. This whole experience has taught me that you should always go for something that you want to do, no matter how slim the chances of success may seem.”
What got you into filmmaking?
“My interest in making videos came about in middle school. My twin sister and I would make videos together, sometimes for school projects, sometimes to submit in the school talent show, sometimes just for fun. The first video we ever made was a montage video to our summer fun between 7th and 8th grade, using nothing but a Flip cam. It has continued since as a hobby of mine.”
What made you choose that particular region of NY for your film?
“I chose Central New York because that’s the part of the state that I’m from, and proud of it. I also chose Central New York because I had known for a while that I wanted to make a video about being where I am from. There’s a common struggle among upstate New Yorkers. Whenever we travel out of state and people ask us where we’re from, they always assume the big city when we say 'New York.' We then have to explain that there’s a large, mostly rural, but beautiful area that exists above the ‘Big Apple.’ It’s very different from the city. There’s beautiful mountains, lakes, waterfalls, gorges, caves, meadows, farms and more. It’s full of many small towns with a sense of community, where everyone knows everyone. To me, upstate NY is like a hidden gem. The city is like the tip of the iceberg and upstate is the part that remains hidden underwater. And that is something that I really wanted to draw attention to in my video, by showing off some of my favorite parts of Central NY.”
What does a typical day look like for you?
7 a.m.: Wake up
7-10 a.m.: Get ready for class
10 a.m.-3:50 p.m.: Start class Monday-Thursday at either 10:05 or 10:50 and end at 2:40 or 3:50. No classes on Fridays.
4-6 p.m.: Head back to my apartment, talk with roomates and continue to do homework and study.
6-7 p.m.: Start to make dinner for 7
7-10 p.m.: Continue to do homework and study. If on track with work, go to the weight room and run for 30 mins to an hour, and then go back to shower.
10-11 p.m.: Try to be in bed by 11 to wake up and start the day again.
What kind of DSLR camera did you win?
“I received a Cannon 80D with a Rode mic, power zoom adapter and four lenses.”
What camera/equipment do you currently use for projects?
“I film with a GoPro HERO4 Silver and a DJI Osmo. I’ve stuck with those because that’s what my college budget could afford. Nothing fancy! Drone footage is done by my friend Nick’s Phantom 4 and my friend Casey’s Phantom 3 standard.”
After this experience, would you be interested in entering another film competition?
“Yes, I would! I am on the lookout for competitions to enter in the future.”
What are your career goals/dream job?
“I would love to have a job that gets me outside, and wouldn’t mind if making videos was a part of my career one day. Ultimately, I’m not picky as to what I’ll do. My main goal is simply to have a job that I love doing and makes me happy. Currently, I spend my summers working full time as a lifeguard for Sandy Island Beach State Park. I absolutely love what I do and who I work with. Now that I know what that’s like, I feel like I can’t let it go. It doesn’t pay crazy well or have benefits, and it’s not something I ever thought I would enjoy, but falling into that job was a bit of a serendipity, as it has taught me that you can find things that you love doing in rather unexpected places.”
Think you have a busy life as a student? Know somebody who does? Send in nominations for a "A Day in the Life" blog by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel is a senior English major hoping to eventually break into the competitive world of journalism. In her free time she likes to sing, take cool pictures, and watch a whole bunch of shows on Netflix and Hulu.
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