Maggie Zhu

Cinema and Television Directing (MFA)

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

As a Cinema Directing Master of Fine Arts student, I learned that a director’s job requires more concrete work than just 'being creative'. The pre-production paperwork, the on-set organization, and communication, the collaboration with the post-production crew are all a part of being a director.

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

The most beneficial experience I had at Columbia was being on set. Columbia sets are very professional and are good places to learn about working in the real world. They are also good places to develop amazing working relationships and friendships! I fortunately got to audit the undergrad Light II class at Columbia. The knowledge and experience I got from that [lighting] class helped me immensely as a person who wants to work in the film industry in the future and as a director.

What are your plans for after graduation? 

After graduation, I plan to start by working in the grip and electric department in China and find a way to get experience/education working as a director of photography.

Do you have any advice for current students? 

For writer/directors, your input is extremely important. Read books, watch movies, and experience life.