In our newest Meet the Jury Feature, we proudly introduce you to Kyle Rodriguez, IES Abroad Buenos Aires alumnus and 2015 Study Abroad Film Festival Winner. Check out his interview for an inside look at what it was like to win the second annual Study Abroad Film Festival and how it impacted his career path moving forward.
Kyle Rodriguez 2015 Study Abroad Film Festival Winner IES Abroad Buenos Aires Alumnus, 2015
Q: Your film, It’s Okay, won 1st place in the 2015 Study Abroad Film Festival—tell us what that experience was like. A: It was all so surreal. When I first set out recording my time abroad, I had no idea what the end result was going to be. The original plan was to put together a highlight reel to keep for myself and maybe share with a couple other people in the program. But when I started to piece together the footage and look back on the experience as a whole, I realized that I had something more to say than that.
After I finished the film, I was so surprised at all of the support I received from my friends and family. Not to mention the strangers that reached out to tell me how much the film had resonated with them. It meant the world to me and even though a few months have passed, I’m still blown away.
Q: Did you have much experience with film and video before this Festival? What advice do you have for students when it comes to documenting their study abroad experience? A: Film has always been an interest of mine, although it wasn’t always so artistic. When I was growing up, I used to sneak my mother’s camcorder out of the house to record my friends and I being, well, kids. I’d put together these ridiculous videos of us causing mischief around town. I started to take it a bit more seriously in high school and college with a few small projects, but It’s Okay was my first comprehensive film.
When it comes to documenting the study abroad experience through film, the best piece of advice I can offer is to not be self conscious about capturing it. There are going to be times where it will seem a little obnoxious to pull our your camera and start filming. But try your best not to worry about what people think about you. If you see a frame, don’t be afraid to capture it.
Q: Why did you feel it was important to document your study abroad experience through film instead of another medium? A: It was important for me to document my experience through film because the medium has a very unique ability to transport us to these specific moments in time and allow us to relive those experiences, especially if they’re from our own perspective. I thought it would be important to capture the narrative of my time abroad, instead of just pictures of the places that I’d been. I don’t, however, think that filming everything was a substitute for keeping a journal. I think that my one regret is not having kept my journal up to date throughout those six months.
Q: Did your experience with film influence any of your future goals or your career path? A: My future plans are fairly misty at the moment and I can picture myself going in a thousand different directions. Although I don’t see myself directing or producing, I hope to be involved in the filmmaking process. Lately, I’ve been extremely interested in pursuing a career in film score composition. Wherever I end up, I would love to keep music as an integral part of my life. Being involved in creating music for film seems like the perfect marriage between two of my passions. Then again, that might change next week.
Q: What is your favorite film? And why?
A: More often than not, my favorite film is the last one that I saw, but that’s not really much of an answer. If I had to pick, I would say that Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood is among my favorites of all time. It’s not the most uplifting movie, but I never get tired of Daniel Day Lewis, the cinematography is stunning, and the score perfectly captures the spirit of the film.
Q: How would you condense the spirit of study abroad into one word? A: Humbling.
Hanging out with sea lion pups in the Galapágos Islands, taking in the view of Lake Como, jumping into the waters off the Italian coastline - our Fall 2017 study abroad students had some unforgettable moments, and they have the photos to prove it!