Spotlight on Senior, Arianna Garcia, an Aspiring Filmmaker

Sophia Scott '21, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

While many Marymount seniors eagerly make their college decisions and try to savor their final days of high school off-campus due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Arianna Garcia ‘20, Editor-in-Chief of The Anchor, simultaneously pursues a thriving film career. As a young filmmaker beginning to gain public recognition for her work, Garcia has already reached so many milestones at such a young age. Her interest in videography began in her youth, and amongst her numerous achievements, she currently has over three thousand subscribers on her YouTube channel (make sure to visit, like, and subscribe). She is also in the process of developing a digital film portfolio website, and she has not even graduated yet! Here, Arianna Garcia discusses her path to becoming a filmmaker, spotlights her personal and professional influences, and provides a variety of excellent insights and tips for young filmmakers about the multifaceted process of storytelling and creating and editing films.

Arianna’s senior portrait, courtesy of Arianna Garcia ’20

When did you decide that you wanted to be a filmmaker? What has attracted you to different genres or styles of film/videography?

I don’t think that there was a definitive moment during which I decided that I wanted to be a filmmaker. I simply came to realize that I couldn’t live without the creative liberation that filmmaking brought into my life. A few years ago, I started an Excel spreadsheet entitled “Ari’s Bucket List of Films.” I’ve been checking films off of this list every so often, each one belonging to a different genre than the last. Doing so has helped me gain exposure to different cinematic styles and become more well-versed in my chosen medium. What I’ve discovered is that, more than anything else, I love a good coming-of-age film. Maybe because I’d like to believe that I’m living in one!

What writers, actors, producers, YouTubers, and/or directors have inspired you, and why?

There are so many! However, to avoid going off on multiple tangents, I will devote my answer to the woman I owe so much to: Greta Gerwig. Greta is absolutely brilliant. I have seen Lady Bird – her 2017 directorial debut – nearly twenty times, and probably have the entire film memorized by now. In April of 2018, my unabashedly nerdy family and I drove over 500 miles to Sacramento for the sole purpose of seeing the Lady Bird filming locations in person. Birds of a feather flock together, right? I replicated a handful of shots with my trusty camera, posing as the titular character herself. From the bright blue dream house to the colorful convenience store, the entire experience felt magical. Whenever I want to be reminded of why I am pursuing a career in film, I turn to Lady Bird. It is the cinematic equivalent of my spirit animal, and reminds me that all stories – even mundane ones involving seemingly unremarkable teenage girls – are worth telling. I also thought that Greta’s 2019 adaptation of Little Women was nothing short of incredible, as it proved to me that a talented filmmaker can make an arguably antiquated tale feel fresh. I look forward to the day when I’m a little old lady and I can drag my granddaughters to the latest Greta Gerwig film about life and womanhood and relate each aspect to some personal experience of mine.   

What are your plans for your filmmaking in college and in the future? How did your friends and family react when they learned you were interested in filmmaking?

I will be attending the USC School of Cinematic Arts next year, where I will be majoring in film and television production! I intend to pursue a career as either a director or a screenwriter. During my childhood, my parents tried their best to expose me to all things STEM: open houses at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a trip to the Kennedy Space Center, and science museums in every major city. Don’t get me wrong, I loved learning about the universe; a career in STEM simply wasn’t written in the stars for me. While a love of space will always be ingrained in my DNA, my love of stars began to gravitate toward a different kind: those of film and screen​. When my family learned that I was interested in filmmaking, they were incredibly supportive. From acting in my films to financing a life-changing summer program at USC, they have always encouraged me to pursue my passion, be in the arena, and live life fearlessly. When I told them that I wanted to go to the USC School of Cinematic Arts – a school with a 3% acceptance rate – they did not doubt me or my artistic abilities for a second. They are my everything! My friends are also a lovely bunch of human beings, and I am so thankful to them for believing in me every step of the way. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.  

Arianna at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, courtesy of Arianna Garcia ’20

What is your advice to other aspiring young filmmakers?

Don’t be afraid to create! The longer you wait to find your voice, the less likely you are to find it at all. Perhaps most importantly, do not allow fear to dictate your decisions. Last summer, my parents suggested that I enroll in the “Beginning Filmmaking” program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Rather than jump at the opportunity, I began to make a mental list of every single thing that could possibly go wrong. “What if everyone else had more experience than I did? What if I turned out to be a terrible filmmaker? What if I failed to make any friends?” After fighting tooth and nail with my poor parents, I finally capitulated and agreed to spend six weeks of my summer at USC. I kid you not, this turned out to be one of the best decisions of my entire life. I left the program with three polished short films, two letters of recommendation from my professors, and one group of friends that I still keep in touch with to this day. Why do I include this anecdote in my answer, you ask? My advice to other aspiring filmmakers is to go out and actually live life; to gather inspiration from personal experiences and tell compelling stories; to have the courage to look fear in the face and say, “Whatever!” Take it from me: this will change your life. 

Arianna at USC Village, courtesy of Arianna Garcia ’20

Who has helped/influenced you to become the filmmaker you are today?

The professors that I worked with at USC had a profound impact on me and my vision for my future career. Although I was initially unsure of how I would measure up in the summer program, these incredible individuals taught me how to trust myself as a filmmaker over the course of six weeks. I learned invaluable lessons about collaboration, creativity, and confidence in their respective classes, and realized just how passionate I was about the filmmaking process. Moreover, coming from a Latino family, my culture has inspired me in countless ways. The first time I bore witness to the cinematic masterpiece that was Disney-Pixar’s Coco, I bawled like a baby. Seeing my culture represented up on the big screen was an indescribable feeling; from the abuela who piled tamales onto her grandson’s plate, to the vibrant Día de Los Muertos altar, I finally felt like a little piece of my universe was being reflected back at me. I want my films to give other Latinos this same incredible feeling. Simply put, I want them to feel seen.

A still from “Viva la Vida” – Arianna’s most recent short film – courtesy of Arianna Garcia ’20

Do you showcase your work anywhere? How can other young filmmakers gain exposure/opportunities to display their work? 

I intend to create a website in the future where my filmmaking portfolio can be viewed. In a similar vein, one of the best ways that other young filmmakers can gain exposure is by submitting their work to student film festivals. Doing so only takes a few minutes! Nowadays, there are festivals for seemingly every topic under the sun, from inspiring female-empowerment narratives to thought-provoking silent shorts. YouTube is also a great resource to display one’s films to a wider audience.   

How do you balance your videography with school, college apps, and The Anchor?

Two words: time management! I tend to work on the majority of my creative projects, such as YouTube videos or short films, over the weekend. During the school week, I devote all of my attention to my studies and other academic obligations (such as The Anchor). Funnily enough, the Anchor articles that I tend to gravitate towards involve the entertainment industry in some capacity. I’ve written about the Oscars, television show recommendations, my love of the film Lady Bird, and so on. As far as college apps are concerned, I’ve actually been able to kill two birds with one stone! From writing screenplays and film treatments to shooting a documentary and some narrative shorts, I’ve gotten to do creatively fulfilling things that also happen to fulfill requirements within my film school applications.