Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When we first saw Alexander Chinnici’s film reel, we were blown away. You hear a lot about actors, actresses, and directors, but rarely do you know a lot about those who are in charge of the artistic and technical aspect of the image, the cinematographer. Having watched movies such as Aliens, Predator, and Apocalypse Now growing up, Alex learned early on good films can influence you. Alex pursued film in college and by the time he graduated, he knew that cinematography was what he was most passionate about.

Alex is thoughtful in his artistic and technical approaches. He emphasizes the importance of building a solid foundation of knowledge and technical expertise, as well as highlights the value of collaboration, whether it’s with directors, producers, or the team he manages. These days, Alex spends a great deal of time on airplanes traveling between coasts for shoots. We were fortunate to meet Alex before he jet off for another shoot the next day, and he shared with us what it means to be a cinematographer, what films and which directors deeply influence him, and how he seizes his youth.

Name: Alexander Chinnici
Education: Film and Video; Cinematography from the School of Visual Arts
Follow: AlexChinnici.com

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Alexander Chinnici: Seizing Your Youth, to me, means “breaking convention.” First off, youth is subjective in and of itself. To me, a child, a teenager, or even someone in their early 20s is expected to do certain things. Depending on where they’re from, their race, gender, etc. …It’s expected that they do certain, specific things that are molded for them before they’re even born. Seizing that is about control. You can do whatever you want; you just have to want it badly enough.

For some people the stakes are much higher and the obstacles may be much greater, but anything is possible. I don’t mean to make it sound easy – sometimes it is, some people are born privileged. For others it can be very difficult. I’m very fortunate that I didn’t really experience that difficulty. Seizing Your Youth is about taking control of what’s yours and not giving in to conventions. They’re usually connected to fear and it ultimately hurts our culture. I’m very lucky to have grown up in a home and an environment that encouraged the opposite of convention. I have very little patience for excuses. Seizing Your Youth is about throwing those excuses away and taking control of what you want.

CJ: You majored in Film and Video with a concentration in Cinematography from the School of Visual Arts. How did you decide what to major in?

AC: The School of Visual Arts Film & Video program is set-up in such a way that your first year is an overall review of the general aspects of the film industry. They teach you the basics, but most importantly you can get your hands on cameras and just shoot away. At the end of the first year you have to choose a focus: Directing, Writing, Editing, Cinematography, etc.

My friends and I made many movies together in high school – basically since 6th grade – and I naturally gravitated to the camera. (I should also mention that my Dad is a photographer). Toward the end of high school we got more and more serious. After three of us went to SVA together, I naturally took over when it came to the camera. 16mm was introduced into our lives and we were terrified (“Wait, you can’t see what you’re doing!?”)

I can’t really say why, but when students in the class (and my collaborators and best friends from high school) asked “Can someone shoot my film?” I jumped at the chance. I had never shot film before and admittedly I was very scared of it. At the time I was struggling with the idea of becoming a director simply because in the world of film you’re told that’s exactly what you should be, especially in film school. Not having full control worried me but in the end I continued to gravitate toward the camera. This was also my first experience with lighting. I simply had no clue about it beforehand and now a brand new language was being introduced to me.

Combine the romance of film (like a first love), discovering the language that is constant lighting, my natural instinct, and the older thesis students telling me that graduating without a focused skill would mean certain death led me to the choice of majoring in Cinematography. Needless to say it was the right choice. It is a skill that takes a lifetime to learn and I plan on doing just that.

You are also a cinematographer for narrative and commercial work. What does it mean to be a cinematographer? What do your daily tasks look like?

AC: The Cinematographer is in charge of the overall visual language for the project. It is always this person’s task to put story first and foremost with the directors vision in mind at all times, to serve them, and to collaborate with them (the amount is usually dictated by the director). Consistency is also very important; making sure that the style stays consistent throughout and only changes when necessary. A cinematographer is one part technical, one part artistic. It is a wonderful meeting of the two. The goal is to achieve an image that the audience doesn’t think about. The technical becomes hidden in the background and the emotion of the image takes shape, hopefully affecting the audience in the exact way that the two of you conceived. In my personal opinion, this is when it is most effective.

The Cinematographer works with other department heads to strive for that consistency. Collaborating with them is extremely important and I try my best to make this happen each and every time. They’ve also spoken with the director and usually we’re all on the same page. We work hard to make the director’s vision come true, but we’re hired as the experts in each of our respected fields. We’re also usually hired because of a particular ability, style, technical know-how or even personality. We spend a lot of time together on set; you have to respect and trust the people you’re around. It is filled with constant decision-making and compromise. Those tasks are not easy if you don’t get along.

My daily tasks depend on what’s going on with the project. While in pre-production, my life is about preparing for production. Seeing locations with the director, locking in my crew, shaping the schedule with the AD and working within the budget constraints. I do my best to squeeze the most out of the amount that’s been allotted to me. The director and I work closely to discover the style of the film. We may watch films; review photos or works of art, discovering the right references helps us get on the same page. We also work hard to choose the correct camera and lenses. This is based on a desired look, the budget and specific logistics often shaped by the script. Often we compare past experiences and watch projects shot with similar combinations. The camera and lenses is arguably the most important choice before we get to set.

On set my daily tasks are always very different each and every day. That is one of the most exciting aspects of the job. To be broad I’d say that it usually begins with a strong plan that we had settled on the day (or days) before. I meet with the Assistant Director (AD) and the director to discuss said plan and we see if we can improve it. Or if a disaster has struck, how do we deal with it? If I’m lucky the AD will get a blocking rehearsal going and we can watch the scene. This will inform everyone of what’s happening. Not every set is so organized, but when it is you can do your job much better. I’ll quickly review this with the heads of my team and they’ll delegate and convey what needs to happen to their crew. After that it often comes down to maintaining a groove, time is extremely important on set.

We usually have 12 hours per day to get everything we need. We face many obstacles like the movement of the sun, actors and/or actresses becoming restless, locations only allowing a certain amount of time, etc. The clock is always running and you have to race against it. It’s often my job to keep us on track and constantly make sure that the shooting order is correct. I need to be thinking five shots ahead at all times. While this is happening I’m placing the camera in the correct place for said moment, with the correct focal length and such. These decisions are often shaped by the location and the blocking of the actors. I work simultaneously with the Gaffer on the lighting of the scene.

Moving a camera around is one thing but lighting a set or a real location can become very complicated. The two are strongly connected and affect one another greatly. The order of how all of this works must be taken into account. The director and I often discuss the editing as well. How is this scene going to take shape? This certainly informs the decisions we make. “Making our day” as we call it is extremely important. If we love the footage and we’ve made it, it’s considered a success. My day is about making those two things happen.

Alex E

CJ: When you’re on set, what aspects of the story and the characters’ movements do you have to consider? At what point do you come in – has the scene blocking been done, do you work with them while doing that?

AC: I think it’s very important that everyone witnesses the blocking rehearsal. Doing any job well is about education. Without knowing what’s happening, you’re only guessing. This only wastes precious time and ultimately hurts many aspects of the day. I often find myself compromising simply due to a poor management of time on someone else’s part. It eats into my shooting time, thus forcing myself to set-up faster. It also forces the director to make faster decisions, do less takes, etc.

To answer your question, no, I am not that involved in the blocking. It is a time for the actors and director to thoroughly discuss the scene and to discover new things. We always come in with a strong plan but you quickly realize that certain things won’t work. You must be nimble and quickly change your approach. Sometimes it’s the location and sometimes it’s the blocking. Often the scene gets much better. If you have a specific idea that you come in with you can manipulate the situation to fall into it. This happens sometimes and it is usually a technical approach that can be effective. It’s important for us to know the difference between the two and when not to get in the way. I constantly try to pick my battles and know when the blocking of a scene has gotten better for the story and/or actors. If a “baby” of mine has to go, then so be it. The scene is usually much better this way. However, I will step in when necessary but only after they’ve discussed it a few times.

As for the characters’ movements and such, this is usually determined by the directors and actors discussions that they’ve had before and even throughout the scene. I often work around this and find a lot of inspiration from it. When an actor is cast so well you inherently trust them right away. If you’re fast enough, you can keep up and come up with new ideas on the spot based on what they’re doing. They know the character better than you so you better trust them and revolve the ideas around that. I always have the story in mind. The director, actors, and I will often collaborate on what’s happening in the scene since they constantly affect one another. With that said, marks can be very important, especially when it comes to lighting. Unfortunately, we’re in a time right now where the craft is being threatened due to the ability of how fast the cameras are and their ability to work so well with natural light. I believe that a combination of the two is the best recipe. Take advantage of what the new technology has allowed us to do, but don’t lose sight of the potential that film language holds. I see A LOT of movies nowadays that simply ignore that. They excuse their lack of ability, low budget, and poor planning as a “style” that is just plain bad.

I do personally like a moving camera (when necessary of course), but I do my best to make sure that the movement is correct for that particular moment. It can be hand-held, a dolly, a Steadicam, a jib, etc. …These are all tools that convey different emotions. It’s up to us to choose what’s right and to execute it correctly. This is directly affected by the blocking and that dance can be one of my favorite parts about cinematography.

CJ: When starting a new project, what does your process look like?

AC: I read the script a few times so that I can have shorthand with directors. You better bet that they know it a whole lot better, and they’ll feel a lot more comfortable if you know it well. This also helps me make fast decisions later on. I need to be very close to it, I need to care about it very much. When my instincts take over, they’re often the right ones because I know it so well and I care about it so much.

I like to meet with the director often. Getting into their head is very important for me. I need to have a very good understanding of what they want. Most aren’t that technical so they describe things in broad strokes. I have to be careful because I may take one sentence as meaning a very specific technical solution, but the director may mean something else entirely. I’m not at a point of being able to afford tests in pre-pro, so if I read that incorrectly we’ll often find out when it’s too late.

Showing examples and explaining things thoroughly often solves any issues. But it’s my goal to learn these things so that when we’re on set I can turn from the eyepiece and say “You happy?” When a director looks back with a huge smile, you know that you did your job right. I love that moment and I strive for it. I trust my director and if that smile is genuine then I know that we’re doing good work together. Ultimately that leads to a good movie, which is always the goal.

CJ: What is the most difficult part about being a cinematographer? The best part?

AC:  The most difficult part about being a cinematographer is the lack of control. You’re constantly striving to achieve as much of it as possible, but it’s constantly slipping through your hands. You have to pick your battles and know what (and when) to fight for what you feel is necessary to have control over. At times it can be liberating and exciting, your old ideas become new ones, often better ones. However, it can also crush your ability to do your job well. But if good people surround you and if you’ve come fully prepared and made the right decisions beforehand, you should be able to avoid this issue. Filmmaking is about constant compromise and working to react the right way so that you can make the most of it.

The best part about being a cinematographer is that you have the chance to live many lives. This is actually a direct quote from filmmaker Robert Altman. It’s stuck with me for years. I constantly travel, meet many different people from all walks of life, and immerse myself in the subject matter, which educates me and opens the way I look at the world. Sometimes the projects are set in different time periods and I get the chance to live in that time between action and cut. It also just feels right; many pieces have to come together. When you witness the best take you see all of your planning come together to make a great shot or sequence, its incredible exciting. We work in a 3-dimensional space for a 2-dimensional presentation that has constant movement. It’s absolutely fascinating. It’s the best job in the world.

Alex B

CJ: What should a young adult who wants to be a cinematographer do now to set him or herself up for success?

AC: This is said pretty often but it’s true…shoot, shoot, shoot. Pick up a camera and go for it. The beauty of film school is that it gives you the freedom to fail. You have the equipment, the faculty and the crew ready to make anything and everything. Unfortunately, at the time the projects are naturally seen as the most important thing in the world. It’s hard to understand at the time, but the stakes are actually very low and this should be taken advantage of.

With that said don’t ignore the technical knowledge that’s needed. It’s great that anyone can get their hands on a camera, see the results immediately, make a decision, and be able to hit the record button for very cheap. But it’s so easy that it has put the technical know-how at risk. It has simply made people lazy. This element is essential since it is directly connected to the creative decisions that you make. You simply cannot pull off certain techniques without understanding how and why and what tools you need to do so. Not to mention the time and cost it takes. It’s one thing to be able to shoot, but to be able to manage a crew, understand a budget and run a set…that’s really what a Director of Photography (DP) is, it’s not only about having a good eye. You’re the head of a very important department that interacts with everyone at all times. You can’t be an introvert behind your small camera. If you want to be a real DP, you need to learn how to delegate and manage. Film school allows for this experience early on.

I’d also recommend purchasing a photo camera. Learn how everything affects one other. First learn the different aspects of the camera. Shoot in manual and experiment with different ISO’s, apertures, shutter angles, color temperature, and focal lengths. You can learn all of them specifically with something you can carry in your bag. With digital, you can see the results right away. Once you start to truly understand these aspects you can try different combinations and understand how they affect one another.

Editing in Lightroom or Photoshop is also very important since color correction is a huge part of my job that I take very seriously. Actual movement and frame-rate can’t really be understood as well when practicing this, but the other aspects can be constantly educational throughout your day. You can learn A LOT from photography, certainly the basics. You need a good foundation to become good at anything.

It’s just as important to educate yourself as much as possible. Actually shooting is the best form of education but you also need to read about it. Get a subscription to the American Society of Cinematographers magazine and the International Cinematographers Guild magazine and read it front to back. Google everything you don’t understand. At first it will be very daunting, but in time you will start to understand more and more. There are many blogs and websites that discuss all sorts of aspects of cinematography and you can learn a lot from them.

I’d also tell them to consider film-school. I have issues with the current model – it’s very behind and needs a major revamp. The film industry has changed drastically and they haven’t caught up. However, I still advocate going and making the most of it. Trust me, the school will fail you in certain ways but you can get A LOT out of it and that is only up to you. I’ve met some of my best collaborators through film school and that was worth the cost alone. It really is an industry that depends on who you know. That’s not just a saying.

Oh and shoot film at least a few times. Trust me.

CJ: What are the three top skills you need as a cinematographer?

AC: This is the hardest question for me to answer since I think it requires many skills. Some will probably disagree with me, but I think these are the top three: Lighting, Camera placement/Focal Length, and Management skills.

Lighting: To understand the use of constant light is absolutely essential for a good cinematographer. Personally, it’s what defines the difference between the good and the great. Lighting sets the mood, time, genre, and emotion among many other things. Of course the camera can convey these things as well, but I believe that lighting is the most powerful aspect of conveying the visual image that you set and the director set out to make. I could go on for many pages, I should just stop here…

Camera Placement / Focal Length: This involves the director much more but you usually place the camera exactly where you think it should be. The director often has a very clear idea of what they want to see and when they want to see it, but it’s up to us to execute it correctly. A lot of my skill and talent is in executing these ideas well. The right camera placement comes down to millimeters; I’m very specific and exact about this placement. I often start with the farthest background, usually a wall or vista that I simply can’t change. This is because I can usually move everything else to make it work in the composition that I’m striving for. Focal length plays a huge part in this and I will often discuss this with the director. Some are very specific while others simply don’t know, luckily apps like ‘Artemis’ allow me to show them a rough idea very quickly. Depending on the format that you’re shooting (S35, Full-frame, 16mm, etc.) and your focal length combination can lead to many, many different choices. Every shot is different and discovering them is always a blast. I haven’t even mentioned moving shots and editing which greatly affect the above choices. But again, I’ll stop right here.

Management skills: This is overlooked a lot of the time in articles and write ups on Cinematography. It is one of the most important aspects of the job. You’re running a big crew and constantly interacting with the other departments. You also need to play politician before, during, and after the shoot with the production team. You need confidence and you need to be able to delegate. Surrounding yourself with a good crew can make this part of the job much easier. Plus, if they’re great they can make you look really good!

CJ: What films or which directors have inspired your filming style and work?

AC: When I was roughly six years old my Dad showed me all sorts of movies I probably shouldn’t have seen: Aliens, Terminator 1 & 2, Predator, etc. It completely blew me away, but I was hooked. At that time I only thought of movies as very basic genres. Of course I couldn’t articulate this at the time but it was simple: Disney movies, action movies, scary movies, funny movies, etc. On our large, rear projection TV in the basement he eventually showed me one of his favorites (on laser disc!), Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. I was probably 8 years old? I had no clue what I had just seen but I fell deeply in love with it. This was unlike any movie I had ever seen. I couldn’t categorize it; the intrigue was through the roof. The film is shot by Vittorio Storaro (one of the masters of color) and he’s one of my personal favorites. I personally didn’t truly understand cinematography until the year I graduated college but the moment I saw it and all throughout the years in between the film stuck with me for some reason. I love it for many reasons, but I know for a fact that it had a lot to do with the cinematography. Coppola and Storaro’s collaboration is one of the reasons I do what I do and it had an effect on me from an early age.

Stanley Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, The Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino are probably my favorites. I’m aware that this is a very modern, American list. My film knowledge is pretty good, but it certainly pales to some people that I know. But from the films that I’ve personally seen those people have really shaped my education, love, and approach to filmmaking. I think of them very often while making decisions and I constantly study their work.

Kubrick is my first love, and I love Paul Thomas Anderson for his incredible story-telling and use of the anamorphic format (don’t get me started, I’m nuts for it!), Fincher for his absolutely perfect execution, The Coen Brothers for being so unique every single time, and Tarantino for having the most fun. I don’t think anyone enjoys his or her job more than that guy and it comes through. I love that and I want my work to feel the same way.

Recently my girlfriend and I watched Billy Wilder’s The Apartment on Netflix. It was shot Panavision, anamorphic in 1960 by Joseph LaShelle. The compositions and camera movement were simply perfect. The use of the anamorphic format was lovely. Rarely do we see modern filmmakers hold wide shots for that long, it’s a shame. After the film ended, Netflix suggested we watch Billy Wilder’s Sabrina, another favorite of ours. Of course we couldn’t say no. Shot by the brilliant Charles Lang in 1954 and in academy 35 (a more square frame), this film was done perfectly as well. Both films we’re directed by Billy Wilder roughly six years apart, both using two completely different formats. Both were shot in lovely black and white but by two different DP’s. What we witnessed was a master at work. Wilder completely mastered both formats and used their strengths wonderfully. The locations, the sets, the blocking, everything was completely different but worked so well. Watching them back-to-back was very educational and inspiring. I highly recommend it.

Last but not least I need to mention Star Wars. Specifically The Empire Strikes Back. There’s not much to say here other than “Thanks George.”

CJ: What is your favorite book?

AC: The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

AC: Take more risks, loosen up, and experiment more. At the time I took each project very seriously, I always have and always will, and I don’t regret that. But in school I could have experimented more with different film stocks, techniques, and especially different lighting techniques and approaches. I could have done shoots on my own more often and simply played around more. By now I feel that I have discovered most of what I would have. But I simply would have learned it earlier thus effecting projects from years ago that could have been more well shot.

My brother is very involved in the world of racing and there’s a saying called “seat time.” It amounts to how much time you’ve sat in a racecar and actually performed in a race. Seat time is very important with any skill. I always want more and I only get better each and every time. I’m very hard on my work and I’m very rarely satisfied. It can always be better, always. The more seat time, the better.

Alexander C Qs

Images: Carpe Juvenis

Culture

For those who have been living under a rock, or out of the sphere of anything related to media, chances are you have heard of Bollywood. No, I didn’t spell Hollywood wrong. Bollywood is an actual word, and it’s now officially defined in the Oxford English dictionary.

After years of attempting to compete against its western counterpart Hollywood, India’s Mumbai housed film industry can stand firm on the morals of its own achieved global success.

Deriving from its former British colonial city name of Bombay, Bollywood has amassed an international following, catapulting its reach of producing almost three times as many movies a year than Hollywood, and allowing to call itself the largest film industry in the world.

The Status

India has its own breed of mega stars who now have the global clout, fame, and a buzz to rival those from America. With its presence at almost all International Film Festivals, Bollywood celebrities are now in a league of their own.

They have massive social media followings, make lucrative endorsement deals with top global brands, and have cash earnings that set them in similar brackets as top Hollywood celebrities. Their reach is not only in India, but their reach abroad is growing as many are choosing to branch outside traditional roles within the Hindi film industry and gain further exposure in the west.

Priyanka Chopra, a former Miss World, is India’s latest global export who launched her foreign fame from Bollywood to crossover and become a recording artist to produce hit singles with Pitbull and Will. i. am. for NFL’s Thursday Night Football theme song. In addition, she has also become the first ethnic face of Guess, and landed a new ABC talent television show deal in Los Angeles where she is currently based. With a heavy media push, her team is attempting to introduce a stronger South Asian presence into the American media market. Among other global Bollywood stars with massive fame include Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Aamir Khan, Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Katarina Kaif, Akshay Kumar, and Kareena Kapoor.

The Reach

From Cape Town to Canberra, Rio De Janerio to Riyadh, the sheer appeal to audiences and demographics showcase how India’s Hindi film industry position now rivals Hollywood’s reach. The past 20 years have progressed the popularity of Hindi film, in turn allowing for Bollywood to become more of household name in several parts of the emerging world. In addition, the massively clean cut and conservative family approach of no nudity have allowed for its films to amass loyal fans not just in its diaspora communities, but throughout Africa, Latin America, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East.

The Appeal

With its grand sets, exotic destinations, love stories, and iconic song and dance routines, many have dubbed the unique and drastically different format to western media part of its international success. Bollywood films have stayed close to traditional Indian values, but in recent times have become a creative playground to showcase a rising and rapidly westernizing population, home to 1.2+ billion people.

The Influence

With Bollywood paving the way for the western world to gain further exposure into Indian cultural values, art, and dialogues, the influence of it reach is massive. With its heavy hitting presence at every major international film festival – including Cannes – established Indian Industry award shows, and the trickling in of more Indian music, fashion, and media personalities into the daily lives of more westerners, it no longer remains a thriving industry.

Dubai Parks and Resorts is even developing the Emirate’s and world’s first Bollywood mega theme park project aimed at capturing the essence of Hindi cinema, covering a total of three million square feet. With a massive three phase development plan for construction in Dubai, the park will recreate for tourists and residents the extravagance and fantasy that is the world of Bollywood.

Have you seen any Bollywood films?

Image: Wikipedia

Culture

It’s that time of year again. Love is in the air, but you don’t have to save it all for your significant other. Parks and Recreation had its ladies gather on February 13th for a “Galentine’s” Day celebration. While the show is a comedy and depicts the holiday in a comedic way, embracing the idea is a great opportunity for you to take a break from your love life to hang out with your girl friends. My friends decided that the day following Valentine’s Day worked better for us – it’s all about finding time to appreciate your friends and spend time together. Here are some ways you can enjoy your own celebration:

Brunch

Who doesn’t love brunch? You get a wide variety of food because of the hybrid morning/afternoon time. It’s the perfect time to catch up with your pals and hear what kind of Valentine’s Day they had. This is a good way to squeeze in some time with your friends if you’ve all been busy at work and haven’t had time to see each other. Save your breaks and take a long lunch!

Candy and Gifts

You don’t have to get your friends a gift. However, the day after Valentine’s Day provides a lot of sales. You can get a lot of discounted candy to munch on or a nice movie to watch with your friends.

Relaxation

Holidays can be stressful but hanging out with your friends never has to be. My friends and I are movie fiends, so we do romantic comedy movie marathons. If your significant other refuses to sit through Sleepless In Seattle with you, you can watch it with your friends the next day. Another option is a group spa day. Do what you like and enjoy yourself.

These are just a few ways you can celebrate. You can do a book trade or a shopping trip together. It doesn’t have to be just your friends – your coworkers or family members can join in! The point is to show love for everyone in your life.

Image: Flickr

CultureTravel

Globe-trotting and sight-seeing may not always be within our reach. Sometimes our travel funds are running low or we don’t have a long enough break to really go anywhere. For those of you fresh off a semester at school or enjoying time off from work, turn your vacation into a staycation. Staying at home to create your own leisure moments is often times the best way to unwind and stay frugal during the holidays. Travel time: zero. Destination: relaxation.

Ramen and Rom Coms

You know you love it. Invite some friends and family over for a cozy night in. Supply the packages of ramen and have your guests choose their favorite romantic comedies to watch. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it’s an easy last minute hangout idea. (Life points to the person who chooses Crazy Stupid Love.)

Easy-Peasy Bath Salts

Here is what you’ll need for a luxurious and silky bath time experience. This does wonders for dry skin sufferers, especially in the winter time. It will calm your skin while the epsom salt can help ease joint pain and muscular aches.

 1 cup of sea salt
 ½ cup of baking soda
 2 cups of Epsom salt
 Mix well in a big bowl
 Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil
 Put your mix into a jar and add a few spoonfuls to your next bath!

Tea Party for One

If you’re looking for some solo time, enjoy a piping hot cup of tea and relax with a good book. It’s always refreshing to read for fun (and not for a grade), but if your brain feels fried from final exams and essay-writing, try audible.com to check out their great selection of audio books. Listen to your books instead and sip on some green tea mixed with fresh mint leaves and a dash of sugar.

Music and Mind

Free-writing is both a powerful and cathartic process. Allow yourself to free your conscience completely with 20 minutes of free-writing. There are no rules or prompts or deadlines, just your stream of thoughts put on paper. Play some music (preferably loudly) while you write to fuel your creativity. You never know, you might get a poem, a letter to self, a letter to a loved one, or the start of a series of journal entries. Tip: listening to music and rainymood.com simultaneously creates a wondrous audio experience that is definitely worth trying.

Image: Mike

Culture

Though Christmas is not the only holiday celebrated during this time of the year, it is one that seems to spur the creation of some of the most heartfelt and sentimental films ever made. I have already delved into some of my favorite Christmas movies of all time – all classics in their own right – but those are not the only flicks that utilize the cheer and spirit of this holiday. There are quite a few lesser known films that exhibit the same emotions during this time of the year through touching stories. So, without revealing too much, here are some indie films to satiate your Christmas movie appetite!

Joyeux Noel

In short, Joyeux Noel explores a fictionalized version of the Christmas Truce of 1914 in which the Scots, Frenchmen, and Germans involved in fighting one another decided to cease fire during Christmas Eve and Day. I enjoy this film around the holidays not only because it is cinematically gorgeous, but also because it reaffirms the notion of putting ones differences aside to celebrate something larger than everyone. Whether you believe in Christianity, Judaism, or no religion at all, I believe people can appreciate the sentiment of hope for peace cross-culturally that is evident in this movie.

A Midnight Clear

Like Joyeux Noel, A Midnight Clear expounds upon similar ideas of peace amidst violence by retelling how at the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 Germans were willing to surrender over Christmas. Unlike the other film, however, this one ended with a ton more bloodshed and more of introspective view of how humanities xenophobia and inability to accept and atone for their indiscretions can ruin even the most intelligent plans geared towards peace. Tie that in with the fact that this is a time of the year for forgiveness, I hope this film helps people to learn to be more tolerant- this film definitely showed my own flaws in regards to this.

Mon Oncle Antoine

In this 1971 French-Canadian film, the Christmastime set storyline explores the Maurice Duplessis region of Quebec preceding the Asbestos Strike of the late 1940s. Benoît, a fifteen year old boy, is the prime character of the film, and as the viewer’s watch his coming of age story in this mining town simultaneously linking up with the move towards the encroaching political revolution, this film forces you to look at how we treat people in society; how we belittle and oppress others. Not the cheeriest of Christmas films, but definitely one to bring you to reality and teach you similar lessons to that learned from A Midnight Clear. It also cannot hurt that Roger Ebert also put this on his Great Movies list, if you need more convincing to look this up.

Which holiday movies do you always go back to?

Image: Unsplash

Culture

The end of the semester is almost here, and with that comes final exams. As a college freshman myself, I am especially nervous for the upcoming week-long cycle that seems to be everyone’s doom. But with all the hectic lists of things to do while preparing ourselves, I have to remind myself that it is equally as important to take the time to relax and wind-down.

Plan out this upcoming week to see how you can spend the time you have. Make sure you have time to study before your exams but also time to sit back and watch a movie with some friends while drinking hot chocolate. Giving your brain a rest will only help yourself to remember all the facts you need to know. Here is a list of a few movies to warm your heart with childhood memories and allow you to take a break from the stressful world.

1. The Little Mermaid: One of my personal favorites that is sure to help you take a trip down memory lane!

2. Home Alone: To get into the holiday spirit, be sure to put on this classic movie.

3. The Lion King: This one is sure to put a smile on your face and remind you how much fun just being a kid can be!

4. 13 Going on 30: We all need a classic chick-flick to help us relax and unwind!

Putting aside these fun movies, make sure to take a breath with all of your studying. It is just as important to take a break from the books as it is to study away! Best of luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Image: Camille Styles

Culture

There is a mountain of holiday entertainment out there, including movies, specials, music or books. Casey McAnarney listed Popular Christmas Movies for 2014. The popular movies are very beloved, but there are also films that are off the beaten path that people still include in their Christmas rituals. If you’re looking for something new to add to your Christmas viewing, here are some other holiday films that you may have missed over the years:

Romantic Comedy Recommendation: The Shop Around The Corner

Based on the same source material as You’ve Got Mail, this is a film about two coworkers who can’t stand each other but are unknowingly falling in love with each other through letters. The legendary Jimmy Stewart is a great romantic lead. You may have missed this movie because you have already seen You’ve Got Mail. If you would like to give your You’ve Got Mail or Love Actually DVDs a break, this is worth your time.

Honorable Mention: While You Were Sleeping.

Musical Recommendation: White Christmas

In this story, two army buddies use their fame to help their old superior officer during the holidays. They also try to find love with a musical duo along the way. This film lightly touches on the war genre but is very uplifting. Bing Crosby sings his famous version of “White Christmas.” You may have missed this because it’s not the first film to use Bing Crosby’s rendition of the song.  It’s streaming on Netflix now so take the time to watch it.

Honorable Mention: Nativity!

Action Recommendation: Die Hard

This is the favorite Christmas film of many action movie fans. John McClane (Bruce Willis) wants to come home to see his family for the holidays and ends up trying to save an entire building from a hostage situation. This is a film beloved all year but also works as holiday viewing. You may have missed this because you didn’t know it was related to Christmas. It is very barely related to Christmas but it’s there.

Honorable Mention: Lethal Weapon.

Comedy Recommendation: The Ref

This is a dark holiday comedy. Denis Leary plays a thief who takes a family hostage on Christmas Eve. It doesn’t seem like comedy material but it is. You may have missed it because it was not a big hit but it is still a good film.

Honorable Mention: Bad Santa.

Animation Recommendation: Arthur Christmas

Christmas cartoons are a holiday staple. This feature is a good example of exciting animation as Santa’s son, Arthur, races against time to make sure a child isn’t forgotten on Christmas. While very funny, it also gives the lesson that technology and gifts are no replacement for optimism and Christmas spirit. You may have missed it if you felt like you had grown out of animation by the time this movie came out. Treat yourself.

Honorable Mention: The Polar Express.

Drama Recommendation: Happy Christmas

Anna Kendrick stars as a woman who goes to stay with her brother and his family. Though she begins to get closer to them, her destructive behavior could cost her what she has. This also has comedy elements and a mumblecore style. You may have missed it because it just came out this year. Try it.

Honorable Mention: The Family Stone.

Science Fiction/Fantasy Recommendation: Gremlins

In this tale, a father buys an unusual creature as a Christmas gift for his son. There are unexpected and violent consequences. This film can get pretty dark so be careful of watching it with little kids. For adults it can be pretty entertaining. You may have missed this if you didn’t know it was a Christmas movie. Enjoy it.

Honorable Mention: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

These are just some of the many films out there this holiday season.  I admit that the first film I watch after Thanksgiving is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and all the popular movies on Casey McAnarney’s list. That still gives you a month to explore something new!  

What are your holiday movie favorites?

Image: Laura Ashley

Culture

‘Tis the season to stay inside, cuddle up with good friends, and enjoy some of the holiday’s cinematic greats. The Christmas season has inspired some of the most intriguing, touching, and lesson-filled films in cinematic history, and here are some that you might find yourself watching within the next month:

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  1. A Christmas Story

Iconic for its famous “you’ll shoot your eye out” line and for the fact that TBS literally plays it on a 24 hour loop on Christmas, this classic Christmas tale reminds you of the hope and excitement each and every one of us had as Christmas approached each year. The film follows Ralphie and his exploits as he runs from bullies, wears humiliating costumes made by loving relatives, and fights for his right to own a Red Ryder air rifle. All in all, this movie is hysterical and will remind you of all the antics you got into as a child.

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  1. It’s A Wonderful Life

A little less self-deprecating than the first, this film reminds us in a lighthearted fashion that the holidays are not about gifts or decorations: it is about celebrating with loved ones. This film follows George Bailey, a man who had many aspirations and ideas for his future, who ends up with a life he did not vision for himself. Though he loves his family, Bailey feels as though life would be better off without him and that is exactly what he gets. Bailey is visited by an angel who grants him this wish, and shows Bailey just how wrong he his. He touched and impacted so many people in positive ways, which is kind of the point of the holiday: no matter how tough things are, remember that you have a support system to rely on and be relied upon. Plus, when a very special bell rings in the last scene, you will be filled with all kinds of warmth – I don’t want to spoil it for those who have not seen this movie yet!

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  1. The Nightmare Before Christmas

Both a Christmas and Halloween movie, this Tim Burton film meshes all the best of the spookiest and the happiest holidays respectively. Jack the Pumpkin King feels as though there is something missing; Halloween has become dull. So, in search of something to spice up the festivities, Jack walks dejectedly into the forest outside of the cemetery to find the seven holiday doors. Accidentally opening the portal to Christmas Town, Jack finds elves preparing for the Christmas season and is very impressed by the entire atmosphere of Christmas. What ensues is a wild idea to mix Halloween and Christmas, and crazy happenings such as kidnapping Santa Claus and battling with the Boogie Man occur. This was most definitely my favorite holiday film as a kid and I recommend it to anyone who loves the creativity of the storyline or just the fact that is has songs in it.

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  1. Elf

This film is probably one of the most quoted and Tumblr reblogged Christmas movies ever.  After discovering he is not truly an elf, the movie follows along on Buddy the elf’s journey to find his real dad. This hilarious Christmas story stars a very funny Will Ferrell, and has many scenes that will have you and your friends bent over in laughter, as well as teaching you an appreciation of the child-like belief that Buddy exhibits all throughout the film – maybe growing up is not always the best idea (but inevitable, nevertheless).

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  1. A Christmas Carol

By far one of the most recognizable Christmas tales, A Christmas Carol has been a staple for the holiday season since its publication. Not to mention its many screen reincarnations, this film can be seen in many forms: one could watch the original, the one with Jim Carrey voicing over a cartoon version of the film, or even a Muppets version in which Michael Caine plays the infamous Scrooge. This classic teaches us the importance of not only being thankful for what we have, but also for inspiring us to help others who are less fortunate than we are. Greed is the bane of humanity, and this story does a fantastic job of giving its audience a newfound appreciation of that notion.

What are you watching this holiday season?

Images: s-herman / Insomnia Cured Here / Chris Friese / J / DVD Talk

CultureSkills

No matter what you are celebrating this holiday season, a party is a great opportunity to see those closest to you. The task of setting up a party is easier than you think. Here are some ideas to make sure your party is a success:

1. Decorate

There is a time to decorate and this is it. Your residence doesn’t have to be all holiday themed if you have guests of more than one faith. Snowflakes, snowmen, or other seasonal themed decorations are appropriate. Decorations that you have collected over the years can be charming. If you don’t have those on hand, homemade or new decorations could be just the thing to make your place seem like a home. ‘Tis The Season: DIY Christmas” by Nicolette Pezza will give you some simple tips to make homemade decorations.

2. Make A Holiday Playlist

There are lots of Christmas albums out there these days. Mix and match your favorite tracks to give your party some background music. It’s a great way to set the mood.

3. Watch Holiday Movies

There are tons of holiday movies out right now which is a great opportunity for a holiday movie marathon. Channels like the Hallmark Channel play holiday films pretty much continuously. Dig up some good holiday flicks or tell your guests to bring their favorites. You may learn to love something new.

4. Get Holiday Themed Food and Drinks

Holidays are a great time for making treats and distributing them to friends and neighbors. At my holiday parties, I let my friends help in the creation and design of their cookies. It’s a good way to be creative and productive when making your party spread. Think of some seasonal items for the rest of the menu. Take a look at “3 Easy To Make Holiday Beverages” by Marian Rose Bagamaspad for drink ideas.

5. Hand Out Party Favors

The point is to get your friends something to remember their time.  Holiday baking would count as a party favor. There are a lot of sales going on now. Find something small for the people in your life. This could also be a time to pass out Christmas cards.

6. Do What Works For You

Do whatever you feel comfortable with.  I know many people who bought themselves Christmas sweaters this year. Have a Christmas sweater party! Share a holiday tradition with your friends or create a new one. It’s a good way to get to know people better. The important thing is to have fun with what you have.

These are just a few suggestions for throwing the ideal holiday party. Use what is around and available to you. The holiday season is a great time to see all those people you miss the rest of the year. You’ll want everyone to have a good time.

What are your holiday party must haves?

Image: Daniel Ramirez

Culture

The young-adult Halloween conundrum: you’re too old to go trick-or-treating, too bored with crazy parties, and too young to afford the really cool Halloween festivities. I know your pain. For those of us who want to lay low this Halloweekend, I’ve compiled a list of seasonally spooky films for you to watch.

Disclaimer: I am not including slashers on this list, even though I love them dearly. This list is for those of us who want to join in on the holiday fun but want to forego hangovers and/or nightmares. So grab some pumpkin ale, apple cider, candy corn, and popcorn and snuggle up on the couch for some frightening, but awesome, Halloween films.

1. Death Becomes Her (1992) stars Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep as the original “frenemies.” Streep plays narcissistic actress Madeline Ashton who’ll do anything to one-up Hawn’s Helen Sharp in her love life, career, or beauty. When you throw a magic potion guaranteeing eternal life and beauty into the mix, disaster will surely ensue! Bonus: Bruce Willis plays a bumbling, nerdy, idiot who is, strangely enough, the focus of Madeline and Helen’s romantic ambition.

Death Becomes Her IMDB / Death Becomes Her YouTube

2. One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous films, The Birds (1963) will probably freak you out. Based on the story by British suspense queen Daphne Du Maurier, the film focuses on a northern California town as it is bombarded by violent, freakish birds and all hell breaks loose. What’s most remarkable, perhaps, is how awesome Tippi Hedren’s hair looks up until the very end of the film. You may be scared of pigeons for a while after watching The Birds, but just remember that it’s a classic for a reason!

The Birds IMDB / The Birds YouTube

3. Watching Hocus Pocus (1993) on The Disney Channel was the highlight of my childhood Halloweens – and I still watch it every year. While some of the humor is fairly adult in nature, this film is great for kids and those of us who are horror-averse. Hocus Pocus follows Max Dennison (Omri Katz) the new kid in his small New England town who tries to impress his crush, protect his sister, and fight off the evil, child-killing witches, the Sanderson Sisters, all in one night! I’ve also always had a soft spot for Mary and Sarah Sanderson (Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker) because Winnie (Bette Midler) was so mean to them!

Hocus Pocus IMDB / Hocus Pocus YouTube

4. I know I promised that no slashers would be on this list, but Shaun of the Dead (2004) is just too good to pass up. This horror-comedy hybrid may be gory, but it will make you roll on the floor laughing! Shaun is not having a good week: his girlfriend breaks up with him, his relationship with his mom isn’t going well, he’s stuck in a dead-end job, one of his roommates hates him, and there’s a zombie apocalypse going on. This movie is definitely not for the faint of heart or those with delicate senses of humor, but watching it will give you a “what not to do during a zombie apocalypse” guide.

Shaun of the Dead IMDB / Shaun of the Dead YouTube

5. The final film on my list is Beetlejuice (1988) which, in all of its ‘80s glory, is one of Tim Burton’s best. Beetlejuice tells the story of a ghostly married couple (Geena Davis and a dreamy Alec Baldwin) who hire the services of a “bio-exorcist” to rid their home of its new – and living – tenants. The best parts of this film are Winona Ryder as an angsty, goth, teenager and a couple of impromptu dance routines to Harry Belafonte hits.

Beetlejuice IMDB / Beetlejuice YouTube

For those of you who want even more choices, honorable mention goes out to: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Practical Magic, Rosemary’s Baby, Young Frankenstein, Donnie Darko and Ghostbusters.

Make yourself comfortable and enjoy your Halloween movie marathon!

Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight

Culture

With the U.S. patent office preparing to strip the Washington Redskins of their trademark, the team that has received much backlash might lose its ability to solely own the Redskins logo.

For years, American sports teams have come under fire for their mascots or team names that follow culturally insensitive caricatures of the Native American race. Stanford, Dartmouth, and Marquette are just a few schools who changed their trademarks in response to complaints from the Native American community. However, teams like the Washington Redskins still perpetuate these Native American stereotypes by fighting for their trademarks and claiming that they are honoring the culture through their use of an infamous racial slur.

Whatever intentions the Redskins hoped to make, it does not discount the fact that their actions preserve older viewpoints that were used to justify the oppression of tribes in the Old West. For example, in old Western films Native Americans were either portrayed as noble savages that existed as sidekicks to the John Wayne-esque hero of the film, or as bloodthirsty savages who tore their way through western American civilization, leaving carnage and despair in their wake. So these people were only ever viewed as those worthy of assimilation into white-society or as beasts to be sent for slaughter. These two portrayals are not only constrictive of the Native American culture, they are also still used constantly in American sports.

And, to an extent, American society has tried to make up for these indiscretions through film and media. Some Westerns such as The Searchers attempted to make the idea of miscegenation between Native Americans and Caucasians more palatable for society and hoped to show discrimination against tribes as a thing of the past. Also, in the 1970’s, the Keep America Beautiful campaign utilized The Crying Indian as a way to show Americans the downside of littering. But with all things aside, both forms of media exploited the bloodthirsty and noble savage institutions. Why can’t media portray Native Americans like they do Caucasians, as limitless beings?

One of the few accurate portrayals of Native Americans in film is in Smoke Signals. The film follows young Victor and his friend Thomas, two Coeur D’Alene Indians, as he comes to terms with his father’s death. But what is underneath the surface of the film is the idea of reconciliation with the past; the idea that sons can mend what fathers have broken.

And I believe that idea is the solution to all of this uproar with American sports teams like the Redskins. By using a person or race as a mascot, you are reducing them to the status of an animal- considering that is what most mascots are. We have done away with most logos that marginalize African Americans, so what is different about the Native Americans? And as the Washington Redskins prepare for the appeals court in order to protect their patent on their mascot, I hope people keep in mind the fact that this racial slur is a commonality of the past. As the present and future of society, it is vital to be culturally sensitive and to fix what social issues past civilizations threw to the wayside.

Image: Business Insider

 

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

It’s one thing to watch TV and enjoy it. It’s another to watch TV, enjoy it, AND write awesome articles about the shows. Samantha Rullo does just that. She spins television shows and celebrity topics into articles that are spot-on and too much fun to read. Yes, her job requires her to watch television shows and write about them. So, how does one become an entertainment journalist and acquire cool internships like this? Read on to find out!

Name: Samantha Rullo
Education: B.A. in Journalism and Cinema Studies from New York University
Follow: Bustle | Twitter

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Samantha Rullo: I would define it as both taking advantage of youth in the sense of having fun and trying new things that you probably couldn’t experience later in life, but also taking steps to set yourself up so you can seize the rest of your life and have the foundation you need to be happy and successful.

CJ: What did you major in at New York University and how did you determine what to study?

SR: I’m double majoring in journalism and cinema studies. My freshman year I went to USC where I was a PR (Public Relations) major, and then I had some experience at a PR internship and I also had experience writing for USC’s online newspaper, and I really liked writing, so when I decided to transfer, NYU didn’t offer PR but they had journalism, I figured I would do journalism and I fell in love with it. I picked cinema because I want to do entertainment writing and I figured it was the best compliment.

CJ: Where have you interned and how did you go about securing those internships?

SR: I have had four internships. My first one was for a PR company based out of New York that I found through a USC alum who was my supervisor there. She had sent a posting to the USC journalism school’s career advisers and I was always looking for anything that was in New York and I applied and got it. I attained a lot of press research experience and skills that I still use.

By the time I applied for my next internships, I knew I wanted to do journalism and I started looking for a magazine internship because I like magazines and digital writing. I also really like weddings, so I interned at The Knot, which I believe that I found either through NYU or ed2010.com. That internship was half writing and half fashion so I did research and put together lists and did stuff for the website, as well as some fashion closet stuff which involved a lot of wedding dresses.

Once I knew I wanted to do entertainment, I applied to TV Without Pity, which is an NBC brand that does reviews, interviews and other news about TV and movies. I think I found that on ed2010.com, too. There I wrote a lot and did some social media. I also did some of their daily features and slideshows. I learned a lot and it was a really great experience.

For this summer, I found Bustle.com, which at the time didn’t even have a name, it was just listed as ‘journalism internship.’  I applied and said I wanted to do entertainment writing, and I sent them samples of my writing and an edit test. I had an interview with my now-supervisor, and I was able to start there in June and I stayed on in the fall because it’s been an amazing experience.

CJ: You are an Associate Entertainment Editor at Bustle.com. What is your writing process and how do you come up with story ideas?

SR: Since I’m in entertainment, a lot of it is pegged to entertainment news. For coming up with ideas, I go through Twitter, Tumblr, and I follow all of the media I read so I can see all of the headlines. If someone got engaged, I’ll do my own take on it, or if something in general is being talked about a lot, I will come up with my own story based on it. For example, when Breaking Bad was a trending topic, I came up with my own spin that no one else has covered. I wrote a piece called “How to Watch Both ‘Breaking Bad’ and the Emmys,” so I try to tie my stories with topics that are being talked about a lot.

Or, I come up with a story in my mind and hope something happens with a celebrity so I can write about it. My writing process has a pretty quick turnaround. I do at least three articles per shift, up to five sometimes. I find all of my media first, so if I’m including images, GIFS, or video, I’ll find those first and make sure those are pulled because that’s going to shape what I’m writing about. If I want to say something but I can’t find the GIF, I can’t write about it. I pull any media and sources confirming what I’m saying, and then I start with a lead and pull my unique angle together and then fill it in and edit and make sure it all works.

CJ: Where does your interest in entertainment journalism come from?

SR: I’ve wanted to work in the entertainment field for a while. I really like television and film, but I don’t necessarily want to make TV or film, and I realized journalism and writing was a good way to combine the two. I started doing TV reviews for my school’s newspaper and I got good feedback so I took it from there. When I got into my second major I got really into it, and it was a great way to combine my interests.

CJ: What advice do you have for youth who want to be entertainment writers? What can they do now to get a head start in journalism?

SR: Try to write as much as you can to start. It’s really important to have writing samples because if you don’t have samples for some internships, you can’t even apply. Published samples are really good, so get your writing out there – through your school newspaper or through your own blog or website, for example. For journalism, I would never let an opportunity pass because of school. I’ve had situations where I worried I couldn’t do as many internship hours while taking classes and homework, but I still ended up doing it and you figure it out along the way and your experiences with your internship are usually just as worthwhile as whatever class you were also taking, and you just might have to stay home some Saturdays to make up homework. At the end of the day, having internship experience on your resume is best.

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CJ: How did you balance interning and being a college student?

SR: Like I said, stay home sometimes. It’s tough sometimes. I try not to take too many hard classes at once. I try to have a mix of classes I really enjoy and classes that require a lot of reading and papers. I take a class that is more hands-on so I’ll have more free time. I had to stop doing a club at school because I couldn’t attend the meetings. Just prioritizing is important.

CJ: What three traits have helped you succeed as an intern?

SR: I try to be really friendly always. I try to have a friendly relationship with co-workers and my supervisor, so that they get to know me and get to know what I’m most interested in. Just being driven and offering to do something that other people don’t want to do and taking advantage of every possible opportunity. I try to be honest about things. If I need help with something, I’d rather ask for help and have the project turn out well than not ask and have it turn out bad.

CJ: Where did you study abroad? What was your big takeaway from studying abroad and do you think it was worth it?

SR: I didn’t have time for studying abroad since I transferred. I would have liked to if I had the chance. I would have liked to go to Italy, but hopefully I can go on my own, eventually.

CJ: What was the college transfer process like for you?

SR: It was like applying to college again so it was annoying. But I’m from the East Coast, so I just had to get readjusted and figure out NYU.

CJ: What activities were you involved in throughout high school? Were there any experiences that were most memorable or life changing?

SR: I wasn’t super involved in high school. If I had known I wanted to go into journalism I might have done more activities related to journalism. We didn’t really have a big school newspaper. My senior year we had to do a service project, so my friends and I helped kids with special needs and it was really memorable because it was rewarding and I’d never had the chance to be as involved with charity work before. I hope I do again because it was very rewarding.

In college I have been very involved with Washington Square News. I went to a meeting my first week at NYU, started as a writer and now I’m a senior editor. I wouldn’t have gotten internships if I didn’t have the writing samples that came from working on the newspaper.

CJ: What was your experience like going to college in New York City?

SR: Expensive. But I like it, and I wouldn’t have had any of the experiences I’ve had if I weren’t in New York. I’m so lucky, because if you’re in the middle of nowhere, what can you do? There are a lot of opportunities here. It’s also really fun just to be around everything and I have a chance to go to events and report on them and interview cool people, just stuff I could never do anywhere else.

CJ: What do you wish you had known before attending college?

SR: I wish I had known less because I feel like I went in with super crazy expectations. People will give you their own opinions and advice, and I would be thinking, “Oh, am I supposed to do this because that’s what they did?” I eventually became open to it and just made my own experiences, but freshman year I struggled with what I’m supposed to be doing and how I was supposed to handle things, so I wish I didn’t have any preconceptions and that I just went into college not knowing what to expect.

CJ: Who is your role model?

SR: I’ve worked with a lot of women who have been great role models and I’ve always had someone I could talk to and whose career path I’ve really admired. They still love what they do and I hope I’m like that when I’m older. I also really like Tina Fey and Giuliana Rancic, especially the journalism side and she uses it to be a breast cancer advocate. I’m reading Lean In right now, so currently Sheryl Sandberg is a big role model.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

SR: I do wish I had known I was going to get into journalism. I do it more now, but I would tell myself to not be afraid to try new things, such as a broadcasting class. At 15,  I was too afraid of what people thought to step out of my comfort zone, so I would say to not be afraid and try new things.

Sam Rullo qs