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Marina McKay sums up her experience as a Media and Communications film major in one word: revealing.

As a Fairfield local, Marina grew up with MIU in her own backyard. Her college career initially sent her to an acting conservatory in New York City and, later, to the acting workshops of Iowa City.

One summer, Marina returned to Fairfield to prepare the proposal for her personalized major and discovered that what she was looking for had been in her backyard the whole time.

MIU alumna Marina McKay (Photo by John Persolus).

Marina recalls an encounter with Miranda Franke, an old high school friend who had just graduated from MIU:

“She said that she loved MIU’s film program because it was hands on. She learned how to work with the camera and how to make something instead of just talking about the idea of making movies. She was singing my song.”

After she arrived at MIU, Marina found that almost everything about the film track was in tune with her vibrations. She credits one specific teacher, Cullen Thomas, with helping to cultivate the sense of personal responsibility which developed organically through her time as a student.

”Cullen taught Video Production and then Lighting for the Red One Camera. In both of those classes, we worked in the studio all day, every day. I was so excited to be thrown into the experience,” says Marina.

“We learned teamwork in those classes,” she added, “We learned how to give and take direction with our peers. In a competitive environment like film, cooperation is valuable.”

During her time at MIU, Marina learned a lot about herself. I feel really good about who I’ve become… You learn a lot in school, but it’s the stuff you learn outside of class that’s the most valuable.” Marina channeled those lessons of personal responsibility into her final project as a senior and plans to include this project as a Proof of Concept in her portfolio.

During her time at MIU, Marina also took part in several modeling projects with her friends (Photo by Cody Weber of Weber Photography).

Marina tells a story to illustrate how her growth as a student deepened her understanding of film:

“In Amine Kouider’s course, we watched Blue Velvet. I’d seen it at my old school. The teacher there had talked about what the blue in Blue Velvet means. I hated the movie before I came to MIU.

“In Amine’s course, he took us through the opening shot by shot. We didn’t discuss color theory for long. He explained what each shot meant, and brought back the framing and composition to how those things served the narrative.”

Marina leaned forward as she recalled the moment she finally understood what the director had achieved.

“All of a sudden, the experience opened up for me,” she said, “What I was watching stopped being a movie I hated and become a piece of art I could understand. I knew that I could do something like that, and then I was given to tools I needed to make those dreams a reality.”

Tamlin Day is a writer and a contributor to the MIU Blogs.