Student Artist Profile: Maddie Best

By Tess Reynolds, Entertainment Editor

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Maddie Best's biggest motivation is making a statement and getting a reaction. Photo courtesy of Maddie Best
Maddie Best’s biggest motivation is making a statement and getting a reaction.
Photo courtesy of Maddie Best

Q: What is the name of your major?

A: I’m a senior filmmaking major.

Q: When you did you start filming movies?

A: I started making short videos early in high school with my friends. We made absolutely awful music videos to Florence and The Machine “Girl With One Eye” and parody how-to videos all for fun because we had too much time on our hands. But that’s when I started to realize how much fun I had capturing life, putting clips together and editing them. Making something out of nothing thrills me.

Q: When and why did you decide to pursue it as a career?

A: I knew what I wanted to do very early in life. I was honestly never too great with academics and constantly gravitated to all forms of art in high school, not just filmmaking. I took multiple photography, graphic design and video tech classes, and was even the producer of the morning announcements in high school. I would skip gym class just to hang out in the dark room and work on photography. I was obsessed.

Q: What experiences have you had filming?

A: Film set can be extremely draining. Lack of sleep and the hot lights tend to get to your brain. But keeping the energy high and your crew fed is the best way to a happy set. Late night sets can drive you delirious. I remember on the set on my Film 2 we shot until around 4 a.m. and we were all in a fit of maniacal laughter by the end.

Q: What have you learned through being a filmmaker?

A: Planning, preparation and organization are the only way that anything gets done. If you don’t spend months carefully planning everything and prepare for everything to go wrong, then you are sure to have a disaster on your hands.

Q: What is your biggest motivation?

A: My biggest motivation is making a statement and getting a reaction from it. When I was in high school I would always push the boundaries of what was acceptable and appropriate. My photography was taken down many times in the art shows for being too sexual or too violent after I had already won prizes. My mom always says all the greats were censored, but that shows that you’re daring to do what others are scared to. She always called me brave.

Q: How has Montclair State University fostered you as an artist?

A: Montclair State has taught me how to put my ideas into practice. I’ve learned the concept of things will only happen if you make them happen. I’ve become more of a doer since starting here. I’ve learned so much about myself over the past four years attending here, it’s crazy. Montclair State shaped me into the person I am now.

Q: Who are your biggest supporters?

A: My parents. They have always believed in me fully and support the arts with every fiber of their being. My mom was a fine arts major with a film minor so she definitely influenced my life a lot toward pursing a career in the arts. My parents are big on decorations and art work so I was always cultured on the greats. My dad would take me to the Philadelphia Art Museum about once a month so I could stare at my favorite painting, “The Gross Clinic” by Thomas Eakins. We’re also very big on Halloween, and my mom would teach me how she fabricates all of her decorations. “All guts and gore, never cutesy,” she always says. Which is where my love of horror films emerged from. They believe in me and have always been rooting for me to succeed in doing what I love.

Q: Who are your biggest inspirations?

A: My biggest inspirations are an amazing nude photographer named Joao Guedes because his work takes my breath away, and the actress Saoirse Ronan because every role she plays keeps me absolutely captivated. I dream about working with her one day.

Q: What’s your latest project?

A: My latest project is my thesis film entitled “Girl/Boy.” It’s a Coming of Age film, told without dialogue, of a high school girl’s search for love and identity as she fights for the attention of an older boy who she has a sexual exploration experience with. I’m actually shooting the film this weekend, Feb. 17, 18 and 19. I’m beyond excited to see all my hard work come to life and for my talented cast and crew to bring their A game and knock it out of the park. There is so much more to come, but I have a great feeling about this film. It’s telling a message that is really important to me and took me a long time to learn myself. I’m hoping other women will be able to connect with the story as much as I have.

Check out more of Maddie’s photography on her Instagram:@indiemadison!

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