Student Spotlight: Zachary Chilcote

Submitted by Yuko Mera on

Major: Cinema & Media Studies
Class of 2020
Hometown: Okanogan, WA
Favorite Film: Mulholland Dr.

When did you know that you wanted to major in CMS?
During my first couple of years at the UW, I was considering dropping out or transferring to a community college to finish my degree. However, last fall, I took a chance with my first CMS class – CMS 271: Perspectives on Film Great Directors: Zhang Yimou. The class was taught by Professor Yomi Braester and I often found myself at his office hours, talking with him about his favorite Chinese and East Asian films. That experience with CMS 271 was what solidified my decision to major in CMS.

What do you like most about the program?
I love hanging out with film nerds, which means everyone in the program in some way or another. I’ve made great friends and all the professors are personable and friendly, and they know their stuff. That conversation with Professor Braester was the first time that I’ve gone to an office hour just to chat with one of my professors.

You have been working on a short film outside of class. Can you tell us more about that?
Yes! I wrote a short film last summer titled I Want to be Seen that I’ve been co-producing and directing this quarter. It’s a coming-of-age story about two students that seem like complete opposites but are actually thinking and feeling similar things.

When I joined the CMS department, my main goal was to get into the industry. I wanted to make movies. Having worked on a few student productions through LUX, the film production club on campus, I finally decided that I wanted to try my hand at directing my first short film. My goal right now is to get it through post-production in time for the UW Student Film Festival at the end of the year.

What kinds of activities, besides your film, are you involved with outside of class?
I just helped a couple of friends register a new RSO on campus: The Atrocity Exhibition, or ÆX. We’ll be showing a wide variety of media, from vintage news reels to contemporary art cinema. Our President, Vivian Chuang, has dug up a lot of background information on the stuff we’ll be showing, and we’ve all got a lot of interesting material that we’ll be sharing. Our goal is to show people something they’ve never seen before and to make it easily accessible.

Do you have any plans for after graduation?
I’ve moved around a lot during my life and I’m a little tired of it, so I want to stick around Seattle for another year and build up my savings and my resumé. I want to get some experience in the industry and work on another short film. Maybe I’ll finally write the feature that I’ve been trying to finish since high school!

Advice for new CMS majors?

Get involved and take the time to get to know your classmates and professors. Join the UW Film Club, LUX, and, of course, The Atrocity Exhibition. Go to office hours and CMS Socials, form study groups, etc. And always, always, always have a backup movie or two, when someone asks for your favorite.