“It’s easy to give up, its stressful and hard to find a way, but there is always a way,” Amanda Adams said.
Adams is willing to do whatever it takes to make the best films she possibly can: a drive that goes perfectly with her desire for challenge and her dedication. Adams is a senior filmmaking major with two minors in women’s studies and LGBTQ studies. When not obsessing over “Gilmore Girls” or pineapple tattoos, Adams is working hard to find her voice as a filmmaker and get as much experience as she can before she graduates in May.
Q: When you did you start making films?
A: I started filming little music videos in high school in my Entertainment Technologies major class. That’s where I learned how to make storyboards, film and edit. Around graduation, I had started to write little screenplays for myself.
Q: When/why did you decide to pursue it as a career?
A: I decided to pursue filmmaking as a career because once I started working towards it, I fell in love with it. I knew I had to be a part of this business in whatever way I could be.
Q: What experiences have you had filming? What have you learned?
A: My favorite experiences I’ve had while filming are when me and the crew suspend all safety concerns to try and get the shot. One time, I was doing sound for my friend Tom Hornberger and we were shooting in a graveyard, in the rain, in October. I remember so vividly being crouched behind a gravestone in the mud holding a boom pole with one shaking hand while the other hand covered the mic with an umbrella, all while trying to stay out of the shot. There was another time when my friend Maddie Best needed a shot of a car driving down the street, but we didn’t have a car rig. However, I had a car with a sunroof and the DP [director of photography] Asher Sosinsky was honestly fearless. We had him stand in my car and grasp the camera for dear life through the sunroof while we drove around the block.
I’ve learned that there is always a way. A piece of equipment breaks, a rainstorm comes your way, an actor drops out last minute. There is a way to fix it, there is a way to film it and there is a way to make it look good. It’s easy to give up, it’s stressful and hard to find a way, but there is always a way.
Q: What is your biggest motivation?
A: My biggest motivation is honestly fear. I’m not going to lie, I’m a student in the arts with a pile of debt just ticking like a time bomb in my horizon. I know I have to get myself together, start to figure out where I fit and find my voice fast. I have always been an overachiever, taking the hardest classes and overworking myself to death. That’s the kind of attitude someone needs in the film industry. You have to be your biggest motivator because your career relies on you.
Q: How has Montclair State University fostered you as an artist?
A: I have had a few teachers that have inspired me here at Montclair as an artist. Susan Skoog’s screenwriting class pushed me like I haven’t been pushed before to make me care about my characters. We did an exercise where we listened to songs, closed our eyes and thought about a character who would come from it. It helped me come up with a character I plan to use in a new project. I think about that class all the time. Karl Nussbaum has an experimental film class that made me step outside my comfort zone and make some abstract films that mean something. I came out of it with a memorial piece to one of my best friends who passed away. Karl and Susan giving me a stamp of approval on any of my work makes me feel proud every time and I will always be grateful for what they have taught me.
Q: Who are your biggest supporters?
A: My parents are my biggest supports. They have never told me I can’t be exactly who I want to be. They showed me how to work for what I want and that I have to work hard to earn what I want. Not once did they ever make me believe my dreams were out of my reach.
Q: Who are your biggest inspirations?
A: Film wise, my biggest inspirations are probably Aaron Sorkin and Amy Sherman-Palladino. Their dialogue is fast, sharp and smart and absolutely everything I want in my films and more. Gary Marshal is an incredible directorial inspiration for me. I grew up on his films and the thing I love most about them is they made me feel good. I didn’t have to be dazzled by incredible shots or insane story lines, he made movies that made me feel good and that’s exactly what I want my movies to do.
Q: What’s your latest project?
A: My latest project is my thesis film. It’s dramatic; its going to be my biggest challenge yet. I’m excited to start on this incredibly stressful thing I’ve decided to make myself do.