Zoë Smurr ’17 came to LMU two years ago to pursue an M.F.A. in Film Production in hopes of telling the world her stories through directing. We asked Zoë to share some personal highlights from the program, and words of wisdom for prospective students.
Why did you choose LMU?
I knew LMU was the place for me because of the small class sizes and emphasis on auteur filmmaking. Not only that, but unlike most other major film schools, I get to own the films I make here rather than have them be owned by the institution.
Tell us a risk you took as an LMU student?
I made a documentary that was very personal, about my family’s journey with my dad’s Alzheimer’s disease. It was nerve-wracking to screen cuts for my classmates and hear their reactions to my story. Ultimately, it paid off. At the final screening in Mayer Theater, I saw the huge emotional response and also got valuable feedback from people who genuinely care. I only wish I had stopped doubting myself and not let that hold me back from pushing my filmmaking even further.
What’s been your favorite opportunity at the film school so far?
I loved the “Writing with Partners” workshop I attended my first year. We paired up with students from other SFTV majors, brainstormed story ideas, and pitched to writing teams working in the industry. My partner and I got to pitch to Bob Orci, and have worked together since. It was a real confidence booster to see how well our pitch was received by such a big producer, and made pitching seem more like a conversation than a scary speech.
What’s your motto as film student?
Let your work speak for itself.