For our first "What's Your Story?" APU Cinema student profile, we interviewed senior Jordan Williams. Jordan is currently director of the senior capstone film Grove Street. Zach Cheney sat down (via email) with Jordan and asked him a few questions...
ZC: Tell us a little about your background before coming to APU, especially as it relates to your interest in Cinematic Arts.
JW: Even before coming to Azusa Pacific I knew that I wanted to be involved in the movie-making process. For instance, during high school I was involved in every cinematic class that I could find and made several award-winning videos. Then, immediately following high school, I actually took a year off before going to college and decided to take a film internship at a mega church in Oklahoma where I was able to learn more about video making.
ZC: What has surprised you about Cinematic Arts at APU?
JW: It has surprised me how supportive each of the students are to each other’s projects. I think we all have this understanding that we are going through this together, so we might as well help each other while we do it. What this means is that you have this family supporting you while you go through school. These people will become your biggest allies through college. They will celebrate you when you succeed and raise you up when you fail. They are your support system that makes the entire experience worth it.
ZC: Can you talk about a project you’ve worked on that was especially helpful (whether you thought so at the time or not)?
JW: One of the project’s that I worked on that ended up being extremely helpful was a Junior level film named Zoe’s Home For Any and All Animals directed by Kim Stratton. I had the opportunity to work on this set while I was a sophomore in college. Furthermore, this was also the first time that I was able to really work on an upper-classman set in any large capacity. I was the 2nd AD for the set which meant that I worked fairly close with the 1st AD. This proved to be extremely valuable experience for me as I was able to see what really went in to making an upper-level production work. I was able to see workflows, how the crew handled pressure, and most importantly, I was able to meet friends there that I’m still in contact with today.
ZC: What’s something you’re proud of having accomplished here so far?
JW: One of the things I’m most proud of so far at APU was being able to be an assistant director for the Junior level film Linked. Initially, when I started that project I was somewhat uneasy about my position as 1st AD. This was brand new for me and something that, quite frankly, felt very daunting. However, as our production started, and I gained more and more confidence in my role, I believe I was able to lead the crew to accomplish exactly what we set out to do and make the director’s job as easy as possible.
ZC: Aside from the mind-blowing courses you’ve taken with Professor Cheney, what’s a favorite class you’ve taken here, and why?
JW: My favorite class (other than all of Cheney’s classes of course) would have to go to Advanced Directing. Not only was it a subject I’m extremely passionate about, but the class was able to push me creatively and as a person. For example, one of our assignments during the class was to take a screenplay from a movie we had never watched and then direct three scenes based purely off our own interpretation. Then we would watch the movies and compare how we directed a scene versus how the director of the movie directed it. This proved to be invaluable experience and allowed us to truly understand the intricate details that go into making a scene come to life.
ZC: Talk about your ambitions for the future. How do you hope God directs your path in light of the preparation you’re receiving here?
JW: This is actually an interesting question, because my answer is different now than it would have been when I came in as a Freshman. When I just started APU, I was completely set on changing Hollywood from the inside and being a light for Christ inside the studio system. While this is extremely important, and I know many friends who are called to do this. I feel like God is leading me in a slightly different direction. Specifically, I believe that God is leading me more towards the ministry. What this looks like I’m not sure yet, but I would love to be involved with a team that shoots documentary type videos of real people and capture God’s power around the world. I am so thankful for my education here at APU and know that God placed me here to learn these invaluable tools in cinema.
ZC: Any advice for a prospective APU Cinematic Arts student?
JW: This is what I would love to say to any incoming or prospective students: the Cinematic Arts major is not for the faint of heart. It is hard. Harder than you think right now. But I don’t say that to discourage you in the least. In fact, it is also one of the most rewarding majors in college. Not only do you get to create things that you love, but you get to do it alongside some of your closest friends. These friends will become your strongest allies. These are the people that will become your support group, who will make you better and bring you up when you think you have nothing left. Make sure to find friends like this. Lastly, find time for God in your life. If there is anything else you remember from this paragraph it’s this. Find time for Him no matter how busy you get, or stressed out you are. It is the most important thing you can do.