Student Snapshot – Colby Blackwill

Colby Blackwill
MFA Class of 2021

Introduce yourself briefly and tell me a little bit about your background. Are you an MFA or BFA?
I’m Colby (like the cheese) Blackwill and I’m a MFA cinematography specialist. I was born in Ojai, California but, I grew up in Vero Beach, Florida. Vero Beach isn’t really an active or exciting place to live so I’ve always wanted to leave. For a while I wanted to go back to California but New York is actually where I want to be.My family since I was a kid would always travel somewhere for holidays and summers. My mom loved tropical places like Mexico, Punta Cana, and Turks and Caicos. Then later to everywhere in California, New York, France, Georgia, and North Carolina. We were always going somewhere. That’s been actually a big part of who I am; to travel and see more of the world.

Who is your favorite Filmmaker and What is your favorite movie?
Edward Yang and Andrei Tarkovsky are two of my favorite directors, I can’t pick between the two. Yang’s movie “Yi-Yi” and “A Brighter Summer Day” are films I just love. Tarkovsky’s “Stalker” is also just a masterpiece.

What are you currently working on?
Currently we are in post production for our thesis films and I’m working on visual effects on a few of them. Later in the semester we color them as well which I love to do.
I’m also working on moving to NYC after graduation and so networking, applying to internships, and thinking about future projects are all on the table.

What does your typical day look like?
It used to be waking up early and working on set for 13-14 hours doing camera, lighting, and various other positions. A typical day back then, is a little ironic because there are no typical things happening on film sets, every day is new and a full day. This was back in the spring semester.
Now in our post production semester, I’m making my way to the production pit where I work in Nuke and compositing some shots together. Occasionally saying hi to the editors and directors in their editing suites. It’s great.

What has been the best part of film school so far?
I think being DP for Eli Barry and Jake McClain was probably the most fun I’ve had in years. The reason why I love working on film sets is because filmmaking for me has always been a very social thing. You get to know people so well and as DP, I get to work closely with almost everyone. I came to this school for 3 simple things: Meet good people who I would work with well after graduation, make films that would allow me to grow personally, and have fun.

Which faculty member has made the greatest impression on you and how?
I can’t just pick one. Both Mark Vargo and Jason Maurer have been a big influence for me. Jason kind of broke my brain and got me thinking really deeply about the connection between art, story, and life. Being an artist means we’re on a journey and Jason has really made me think harder about how to be a better photographer, DP, and how to think critically. Mark has made me feel more confident as a DP and how to be the best person for the job. He makes the job more understandable and though his classes, workshops, and side projects he makes it something I shouldn’t be afraid of. I actually used to be a little terrified being behind the camera and having Mark as a teacher has taken away some of that stress and mystery of being a DP.

What do you think someone applying to the program should know about the FSU Film School?
Your class is your family for the foreseeable future, some of them only temporary and some for a lifetime. After the first semester I felt like I knew them better than my friends I’ve known for 5 years. After a film is done, you always will find something you don’t like, something your unhappy with. But what your class will remember is the experience of making that film, probably more so than the film. So try to not only make this time at the school about making the best films you can, but make the best friendships and relationships with people that you can. Two or three years flies by quickly and every minute you have with your class and friends should be treasured. You should know that it is not easy, ever. After a battle with cancer, my mom passed away last year and what got me though it was the love and outreach from my class.

Favorite Film School Moment?
On Alex Thiel’s thesis show, Jake McClain had to be attacked by an actor dressed up as a black coyote over and over again.

It’s late, you’re at the Film School working on something you need to finish before tomorrow: where are you and who are you with?
Eli and I, in the student work room and instead of work he’s drawing me but actually ends up drawing Bob Saget.