I survived my BFA Thesis Film

  by Kate Spalla.

Emerson College grad Rob Leshin got it done, so you can too.

Photo provided by Rob Leshin (center).

Senior year was beginning and Rob Leshin would take on his BFA thesis film, a vision he formed years earlier as he was only narrowing his decision on a school. In September 2011, the faculty board at Emerson College approved his plan to create “Meal or No Meal,” a satire set in a game show for bums pulled off the street.

In June, Rob was in the campus editing labs fixing the sound on “Ash,” a dramatic thriller he adapted from a friend’s play. After a key realization, costly equipment fails, schedule changes and hours of editing, his BFA thesis was a totally different project — but it was done. For many college filmmakers at this time of year, the finish line feels far. Rob broke the tape, completed his project and lived to share the following survival tips:

Be realistic. “I probably would have just been more realistic about my capabilities at that time… It’s a good lesson learned and you’re always bouncing around on projects,” Rob said of his concept change. “It was stressful at the time, but it ended up working out and I’m proud of how it turned out.”

Ask for feedback. “It’s always good to have feedback… it’s got to be targeted feedback. It can’t just be a friend who might not want to offend you. It’s got to be someone whose opinion you trust.”

Don’t freak out. “If you’ve already committed to it and you’re freaking out, don’t worry. It happens to everyone. There’s a reason you’re doing this in school, because yes, you want to make a great film, but B – you also want to learn how to make a great film. That might mean having a lot of problems and overcoming these problems.”

Be open to compromise when necessary. “Sometimes you’ll be so attached to something, you’ll think, I can’t make the movie without this. And you’ll end up making a choice or a compromise that ends up being a much better choice than the thing you were so attached to in the first place.”

Believe in it. “No one should believe in in the project more than you. You’ve got to be the one that’s going to lead all these other people to give their time to help you make the dream of your film come true. Even if your faith is tested, you’ve got to keep it up.”

Do it. “If you really feel like you have something to say that you really need to get out there, I would definitely encourage everyone to take a big step and go for it.”

Rob is working in New York City after graduation from Emerson College in 2012. Check out his projects on vimeo.