Q&A: Filmmaker Kristen Achziger of Vanguard University

  by Kate Spalla.

Photo taken by Kristen Achziger
Kristen Achziger describes herself as a people-person, so it makes sense that her favorite stories to film involve helping others. She’s studying Cinema Arts as a junior at Vanguard University, and she has big plans for the future.

What’s your favorite kind of story to tell as a filmmaker and why?
Stories of real life, of real hurt and of real hope — so my favorite stories are the ones that are so unique, maybe even crazy that they’re real, you know. I love stories about people that have gone through intense trials like a mother who lost her son to cancer or a family that struggles to make ends meet, but is still super bonded or very bonded — and how they love each other and support each other through that… the stories that maybe we don’t see as much on television, but that exist in every home in America.

Where did you find the passion for the kinds of stories that you tell?
I grew up watching TV shows like Extreme Makeover Home Edition… I was just so inspired that these people were not creating a TV show purely like for their own good, but they really wanted to better the lives of people that have struggled and who deserve great things. And I think that’s kind of a catalyst for what pushed me later into this area. But I also worked as a videographer at a summer camp for about two years and when I was there filming their events, it was more event coverage, just like I do kind of right now. But I decided I wanted to push further and talk to students attending the summer camp, and get to know them a little bit.

You said one of your biggest dreams is to start a mentorship program. Why?
Well, I’ve always just had this desire to mentor students and to help them walk through life and pursue their own dreams. I thought this would be becoming an R.A., a resident assistant at my college and maybe being a camp counselor or something. But it kind of recently started developing towards a bigger dream in my filmmaking area — but what I am really struck by sometimes is that students who want to pursue the arts aren’t always supported in their choices. When I was growing up I loved filmmaking, but the people around me saw it as more of a hobby and they didn’t understand that I could really pursue this and they didn’t think that it was actually a stable job. And so one of my passions is just being able to support students who want to pursue filmmaking, giving them the resources, teaching them things, you know, and pushing them off like a mother bird with her baby, and they fly.

What are some of you goals for your own career?
I think at this point in time have my own… small business for now, doing film and photography for people. But my main, I think, goal that I do know for sure is I want to start a non-profit to tell these stories, to put them on the internet, to get people involved donating to these families… I kind of want to start a movement with that.

Check out Kristen’s clip of Vanguard University’s mascot, Samson the Lion, in “Samson 2.0.”