Chris Khashan, a Woodbury University senior with only two more classes left to earn his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Filmmaking, is well on his way to launching a filmmaking career. With internships at Paramount Studios and Warner Bros. under his belt, Chris is well equipped to make his next move. He shares his experience as a Filmmaking student ready to graduate and how he plans to make his dream job a reality.
My decision to attend Woodbury was mostly influenced by my desire to get a hands-on approach to making films in a tightly-knit community of artists. I wanted to receive an education surrounded by individuals who did not see me as competition, but rather a source of collaboration. After attending an introductory Woodbury event, where I met many like-minded individuals, I felt confident we could work together to create products and films to be proud of. Fortunately, four years later, this has been the case, and I’m sure I will continue to network with my fellow students and faculty for years to come.
The Paramount and Warner Bros. internships were huge stepping stones brought to my attention by George Larkin, Chair of the Filmmaking program at Woodbury. With the help of his industry relationships, I was able to interview for and land the internships. Working at Paramount was the hardest internship I’ve ever had. We worked long hours, reviewing multi-million dollar scripts daily. There wasn’t much time for relaxing, taking breaks, or even making mistakes. The executives demanded perfection, and this helped refine my skills and prepared me for my next internship at Warner. Although Warner was much more fun, the work was exactly the same and just as demanding. Reading scripts, providing coverage, answering phones, taking notes, there was always a job to do. It’s not enough to work in these environments and do the minimum required by the executives. In both offices, I was running around and performing tasks that simply weren’t asked of me. If I finished early, I asked for more. I wanted to let them know that they could count on me.
The Paramount internship directly led to the Warner internship since at that point I had the skill set they were looking for. Right after my Warner internship, I started working on my senior thesis. Between pre-production, editing the script, finding actors, producing, and post-producing, I didn’t have time for an internship. I only have two more classes to take before I receive my degree, and when the time comes, I’m certain having these experiences on my resume will help open doors to new opportunities.
My inspiration for making films came directly from watching them. I’ve been a movie fanatic all my life. Before I knew it, I was renting large quantities of films from the public library to broaden my knowledge of filmmakers. Ironically, I wasn’t so interested in the films, but rather the people behind them. I started following big names such as Tarantino, Fincher, Nolan, and Leone. I was so caught up in watching as many films as possible that during the summers of 2013 and 2014, I watched a new movie every single day! Those were the most productive summers of my life, as I essentially figured out what made a “good” film.
My senior thesis is the work I am most proud of. In writing, directing, and producing my 11-minute short film, I was able to showcase all the skills learned over the past for years through this end product. While I’m proud of my overall work ethic and determination in completing the film, I’m still my own worst critic. Even though it has received much praise, I always look for things that need improvement and ways to make it even better.
Collaboration motivates me. The idea that a large group of individuals can come together to create is enough to get me out of bed. One of the most chilling moments of my life was arriving on set for the first day as the director of my own film. With a fantastic group of filmmakers by my side, we made the best film we could, while having fun. I think this is at the heart of making movies. One of the most motivational quotes I’ve heard on set is “Ease up people, we aren’t saving lives here!” Filmmakers have the opportunity to pursue a life of fun, adventure, and artistry. Taking it too seriously, where the fun is completely sucked out, is the quickest way to burn out.
Without a doubt George Larkin, Chair of the Filmmaking program. George has gone out of his way, time and time again, to make the program as valuable and educational as possible. He has been readily available to listen to concerns, discuss solutions, and provide networking opportunities to break into the industry. He encouraged me to apply for internships, get ahead of my classes, and make sure I was planning for my future. Seeing how hard he has worked with my class to help them graduate and find job opportunities is a testament to his commitment and dedication to the success of each student.
With the completion of my BFA, I will pursue a career in screenwriting and directing. In my early years, I’ll likely focus on developing scripts, making connections, and hopefully finding an agent to represent me. Later I will seek to become an auteur director, one who mainly writes and directs his own work. With the help of my friends, loved ones, and colleagues, I’m counting on this dream to become a reality.