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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Senior film major isn’t hedging any bets yet

Published: January 31, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc.

Sam Bender ’14 knew from the get-go that he was going to be a film major. Hoping that he wouldn’t start to hate watching movies, he came to Brandeis for the unity that the community fosters in the program, rather than competition as seen at other schools. “Film is such a collaborative art. You can’t just do something entirely by yourself,” he said. Four years later, he prepares to graduate with a host of invaluable experiences under his belt through the arts at Brandeis.

While at other schools Bender would have had to work his way up a hierarchy of power before being able to gain experiences with film, he dove right into it as a first-year. “I was able to work in the Getz lab, have access to all the equipment and different projects, to work with seniors or first-years and everyone in between,” Bender said.

Bender is a double Film and Global Studies major. In his junior year he studied abroad in Prague, and now he may be making plans to go back to the area post-grad. Though he would ideally be working in New York or Los Angeles, Bender wants to live abroad first. “I’m applying to different grants and scholarships and fellowships … looking into different ways I can do that.”

In his post-grad pursuits, Bender is using every connection that he can. “People who have different connections that I’m talking to, or people that I’ve met and could stay with and can work and try and get experience,” he explained. “I’m trying to live in Berlin, but could be in the Czech Republic, or any of those places.”

A scholarship or grant abroad would give Bender the opportunity to work with filmmakers as an assistant. “Some of the projects I’m proposing are to do historical documentaries about different animators in Europe or different movements,” he explained.

“I know the most ins and outs there, so I feel like I could do the most comprehensive work there.” Bender is open to changing this, but for now his background in speaking German is best suited to live in Europe.

Here at Brandeis, Bender has accumulated a wide range of experience working in film. His biggest project has been the formation with his friend of a company that produces promotion videos for small businesses. They started two summers ago. “We decided that we had the equipment, we had the knowledge and we certainly had the means and ability to make these short videos for people who are interested in getting their name out there.”

Together, they have produced multiple videos for businesses, such as a screen-printing company, a one-person massage company and a law firm. “It’s time consuming, which is why it costs so much money in the real world.”

Bender explained that the business was successful because of the deal he and his friend could offer small businesses. “We were working on the basis that we wanted experience, and not money so much, and people didn’t want to pay for stuff,” Bender explained. “We had a lot of time.”

One of Bender’s most memorable projects is a music video that he helped to create in the SCC Theater. “We built a restaurant next to an alley next to a bedroom next to a courtyard next to a restaurant,” Bender said. “It didn’t feel college-y,” he explained, remembering the intricate set design. “We created the whole video in a week, and it was insane.”

Time is not so easy to find now for Bender, as a senior. While he did not have time for a big final project or thesis, Bender is still busy working on different productions. “I’m helping to edit a documentary, doing a lot making the promotional videos,” he noted, in addition to working at Getz Media Lab, WBRS, other groups and, of course, taking classes. His main focus, though, is to figure out his plans for after graduation.

Bender knows that it isn’t easy to find work after college. “Nobody’s getting jobs,” he acknowledged. But he has no plans to resort to any Plan B’s. Quoting someone on how to succeed in music, Bender noted, “If you have a backup plan, you won’t succeed in the first place.”

“I really want to do this,” he said. “I’m not going to hedge my bets yet.”