Anthony Fuentes

Cinema Art and Science (BA) '21

What would you say was the most surprising thing you learned at Columbia?

The most surprising thing I learned at Columbia is how large this industry truly is. There is so much overlap between different forms of art and every single one of those art forms is taught here. Getting to meet new people with different talents and collaborating on a regular basis really helps define how you approach obstacles, and it teaches you to acknowledge [what] you can continue to improve upon. This is film school: it’s the place to make mistakes and learn from them. It is so important to find a community filled with trust, support, and compassion, so you can dive into new and exciting creative endeavors you’re truly passionate about. 

What experiences or courses at Columbia do you feel have been most beneficial? 

Some of my favorite courses at Columbia were all the humanities courses like philosophy, psychology, and LGBTQ History. These courses allowed artists from different mediums to come together and spark conversations we so desperately need in today’s age. As a filmmaker, it is so important to realize the potential for social change through art. Understanding the impact our industry has on society overall can truly change how we decide to approach new projects.

Keeping in mind our universal humanity and the human condition can really help create stories that allow anyone and everyone to relate to them. Of course, my film classes involving hands on experience with directing, assistant directing, and producing were also fantastic and allowed me to explore new stories and problem solving in a new medium, unlike anything I’ve ever done before coming to this school. The combination of all these experiences really helped me [understand] the type of storyteller I want to be one day. It’s okay not to have it all figured out right away, in all honesty none of us do and we will never stop learning and adapting. 

What are your plans for after graduation? 

I’m currently doing the Semester in LA program where I am interning remotely at two production companies mainly focusing on development. I plan to move out to LA this summer where I’ll apply to jobs on set as a PA or as an assistant director. I also plan to apply to executive assistant positions at different production companies in Los Angeles. I am ready to go where the best opportunity takes me, so I can establish myself and learn from my peers and supervisors. In my free time, I’ll take what I learn from practical gigs and apply them to my own passion projects that I’m currently writing and developing. Before I jump into my own artistry, I want to hone-in [on] my style and voice well enough to ensure authentic storytelling. 

Do you have any advice for current students? 

My biggest advice is to not be afraid to put yourself out there. Columbia is a school full of opportunity and connections, but neither of those things come to you naturally. You must actively seek it out. Even if you don’t have experience, just jump on a project, and push yourself to learn from those around you. Another piece of advice is to stay grounded. You’ll get to meet so many people at this school, but don’t let other people’s achievements make you feel less than. Every single person is on their own path and each person will find success in their own way. Don’t allow yourself to be put into a box. Instead, find out who you truly are and accept it. The most valuable thing about you is your perspective and your voice, so don’t shy away from it! Find love and compassion for yourself so you can spread it to everyone around you. At the end of the day, people want to work with people they like, so do the inner work and find your community. 

If you were going to sum up your experience at Columbia in one sentence, what would you say? 

For me, Columbia has always been about the community of people around you, a journey of self-discovery, and an opportunity to [discover the] kind of storyteller you want to be.