Gavin Schroeder

Get to know some of our College of Media students! Gavin Schroeder is a Class of 2024 media and cinema studies major.

What interested you in pursuing filmmaking at the College of Media?
I’m from Peoria, Illinois. I didn’t know what my future would be like. Community college was a safe and affordable option for me to explore my interests. At Illinois Central College, I became interested in filmmaking and video creation. I came in as a sophomore because of my high school credits.

I was a part of Harbinger Student Media and the newspaper The Harbinger. I learned how to work in a team setting and become a leader. My role as head editor of VideoCast required me to produce content every week, like what you see on the news, but with watered-down local stories. There was always something new with that.

I’ve had a lot of family who attended Illinois. My grandparents took me to several sports games, so I had the school spirit. I heard about the College of Media through my family as well. Media and cinema studies is a broader major than hard film schools and touches on all aspects of the analytical side of film and production. I’m more interested in the production side of MACS than the analytical side because I’m hard-pressed into film after I graduate.

Which RSOs or extracurriculars have you been involved in?
During my first year, I joined Illini Film and Video and made an effort to talk to the executive members. I wanted to be connected to other filmmakers. Because of that, when the Social Chair of IFV went abroad, I was able to land his position. Unfortunately, IFV wasn’t highly active then. This motivated me to run for president the next semester because I wanted to revive it.

As president, I planned every meeting with workshops or guest speakers, such as an audio workshop, Jeopardy! night, and Professor Bright’s directing presentation. My main goal was to keep membership retention.

Apart from IFV, I pop in and out of other RSOs. With The Fashion Network, I always sign up for their videography/photography positions when they have expos. I’m also a photographer for The Catwalk. My work is for social media, like Instagram reels. I send in my work to the photo/video editors, and they do the magic.

If you’d like to check out any of my work, here is my online portfolio.

Do you have any favorite classes?
My favorite class was MACS 260: Film Production. It’s like MACS 150: Intro to Digital Media Production but more focused on film. I got into amazing discussions with amazing people whom I still talk with. In film, you tend to know most of the people the longer you’re in it. Our final project was a short mockumentary called Still Damp. It was the most fun I had on a set because the story wasn’t the best. It was a detective story about the main character trying to figure out who took their laundry out and left the clothes still damp. It’s a pet peeve of mine.

What kind of work experience do you have?
I have three jobs currently. My first and oldest is a videography/editor position through the College of Fine and Applied Arts.

I am also an intern with Fighting Illini Productions. Sports videography is not my cup of tea, but it’s fun. I shot four or five women’s soccer games this semester. It helps perfect my camera movement in terms of panning and tracking subjects at high speeds.

Lately, I have been interning at Shatterglass Studios—a creative agency that specializes in video and film production. I go in on Tuesdays and Thursdays doing whatever needs to be done in the office. Sometimes it's minuscule work like organizing papers, but I enjoy it. I am always happy to help because it builds rapport and shows my value. I might want to stick around at Shatterglass after I graduate because there is potential for paid gigs there. They’ve been involved in feature films like Black Mold and Revealer, which is a Shudder exclusive.

Have you worked on any personal projects?
Last year, I was an assistant camera/camera operator for a friend’s short film. It was a lengthy shooting process of three months. It showed me how much time goes into filming. I touched on many roles by paying attention on set: PA work, sound, cinematographer, and even directing actors. It is where I got into lighting. It was a crash course.

This summer I shot and edited a music video for my friend. It was my “Cole Bennett” era. I gained so much knowledge on how to make a music video and how time-consuming they are.

I am also working on a short film called Stiff. I finished the script and started pre-production. It's going to be a lengthy process, but I want to take it to the film festival circuit.

Any advice you would like to share?
Always put yourself out there. You must make time for it. Try to get involved and meet other filmmakers. If the only thing you’re doing is taking MACS courses, you’re not putting yourself in the best position. You need to be on a set shooting as much as possible. The more time you put into something, the more confident and better you get at it.

Don’t try to rush yourself. We work on different clocks; we’re different people. Don’t put yourself down if you see someone else progressing faster. I’ve seen people wishing to be at the same level as other filmmakers, comparing their work. It’s not a healthy mindset. You’ve got to take your time and focus on yourself. Have confidence that you’re gonna get there, but it’s gonna take time.

What are your favorite movies and filmmakers?
My favorite movie is The Graduate (1967). It’s a film anyone can enjoy. On the surface, it’s a comedy-drama, but on a deeper level, it is introspective and depicts the existentialism of life after graduation. I can connect to that because I don’t know what is next for me in life either.

Stanley Kubrick touches on many themes and genres so well. A Clockwork Orange (1971) and Paths of Glory (1957) are my two favorites. They are great enjoyment and very well-written stories with deep themes.

Off and on, Sam Raimi is another favorite of mine. I enjoy his style and connect with his humor. The way he directs and shoots is so creative and ingenious like in the Evil Dead series. He gets in so many interesting shots. When he is not a director for hire, he is an auteur. His Spider-Man trilogy is my favorite too—even the third movie.

—Interview by Kris Modi, New Voices Intern