Kimberly Risi

Kimberly is a second-year filmmaker in the MFA in Production program at the College of Motion Picture Arts. She has three more semesters in which she will complete two more film projects, including her thesis film that will be the pinnacle of her work.


What surprised you the most when you entered the MFA in Production program?

The intensity surprised and scared me. I don't think I'll ever work as hard as I did my first semester at the College. Classes from 9 to 6 every weekday for 6 weeks and then 2 months of production. It was filmmaking boot camp. However, I came out the other side stronger and more dedicated than I ever thought I could be. Filmmaking can be incredibly intimidating but the College forces you to forget your fear and just make the darn thing! The sense of pride gained after seeing your first film screened is indescribable. Better yet, you share that feeling collectively with twenty-nine other classmates who also survived the semester.


What advice would you give to prospective applicants for the graduate application?

Be yourself. I know this is totally cliché, but it's true. The College is looking for students who have an honest and distinct vision of the world. Think about what makes you special and exploit it! In my entrance essay, I talked about my experience in Girl Scouting and how it shaped how I make and watch films. Let the faculty get to know you though your application.


What does a typical day look like for an MFA student?

This really depends on the time of year. During pre-production, our days consist of classes and workshops. Our nights are dedicated to doing assignments and further developing our script ideas. During production cycles, we are on set for up to 12 hours a day or night. There's nothing typical about a day on a film set. Each one is a completely new experience with its own set of surprises.


Tell us what past experiences led to your passion for filmmaking.

Lord of the Rings. That's what initially got me interested in filmmaking. I remember sitting in that dark theater watching Frodo and his hobbit friends fleeing black shrouded baddies. I thought, "This is it! This is what I'm going to do." Peter Jackson gave me a gift that night. That film brought me such joy that I wanted to share it. My mother got me a video camera for my 13th birthday and I never looked back.


How has the College prepared you for a career in the motion picture industry?

I haven't graduated yet, so only time will tell. However, it has given me confidence. The College has taught me how to make movies, pure and simple. I can walk onto any set now and know, generally, how every position is run. Because the program is industry-standard, I feel confident that my lessons here will translate very well to professional sets. The road to becoming a filmmaker is long and rocky, but Florida State has given me strong boots for the journey.