I had the amazing opportunity, thanks to a University 101 assignment, to interview my Intro to Video Production teacher, Jeff Harder, about his educational and filmmaking journey and I found out some interesting things! I chose him first and foremost because of my interest in film, but also because he is such an outgoing and relatable teacher. He currently works at Loyola University Chicago primarily as a film history and production professor, but he also leads the Loyola film club, LUCine, and makes films and gives documented presentations on new technology for the film world.
However, when Professor Harder was in my very shoes, he didn’t look like an aspiring filmmaker. Originally, Professor Harder majored in anthropology and became an archeologist. Just a few years later he became involved in social work involving troubled kids and teens. It wasn’t until after all that that he returned to school to study film and become a filmmaker. His advice for me as a first year college student was to never get narrow-minded. There is so much to do and learn in college, and also in life, so be sure to seek out new opportunities and avoid getting stuck in the same routine. One of the things Professor Harder mentioned quite a few times, especially when asked about Loyola’s core values, was the importance of diversity. Diversity, not just cultural but educational, is so important when working within an industry that reaches so many different kinds of people. Professor Harder talked about his experience in many different fields as one that aided him in creating a better view of diversity. Seeing as I come from a liberal arts high school and am currently in the honors program, having a diverse background is very important to me. And to hear Professor Harder talk about the importance of having diversity and a broadened background was very encouraging.
As for film, Professor Harder believes that diversity is just as important there as it is anywhere in life! In his career, he’s had the opportunity to shoot with kids and college students on different issues as well as film in Nicaragua during the war. His biggest piece of advice to aspiring filmmakers, outside of his emphasis on diversity, is to develop a strong web presence. Keep up on your social media and make sure that they represent you in the way you wish future employers to see you. Create a blog or website. Make and constantly update a LinkedIn page. And, of course, the golden rule of working in the film industry, NETWORK!