“I feel like everything is piled onto our generation,” said Jason Stefaniak, 26, a 2008 graduate of Towson and current student in the NYU Graduate Film program. That is a statement felt by many. Towson graduates today are facing the toughest job market since the Great Depression. Over 50% of recent college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed (meaning they have a job which doesn’t require a degree). Let us not forget about the whole other mountain of issues our country is facing. It’s easy to feel discouraged and overwhelmed.
Jason, however, is not one to let things get him down. He proudly says, “Don’t be afraid to take risks,” and believes in social advocacy. He created a short film called “This Is My Body” in July, which, according to the Facebook page for the film, is a “Women’s Rights advocacy video created in response to the attacks on women’s health and reproductive rights that have occurred throughout 2012.”
“This Is My Body” has been seen in over 133 countries and viewed more than 100,000 times online. It has even been featured on MSNBC and the Huffington Post. All this for a documentary that was filmed in one day and produced with less than $1,500 (of which was raised through a grass roots social media campaign).
Watch "This Is My Body" Below:
Jason has been interested in documentary film making since he was an undergraduate student in the Department of Electronic Media & Film at Towson. He won an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Student Production for a documentary about a bik co-op and sustainability practices in Baltimore. “I submitted it to the Towson Media & Arts festival and it didn’t make it,” he said. “So it [the Emmy] was very unexpected.”
Near the end of his Towson career, which included an active role in URG, Jason decided to further pursue his film education by applying to graduate school programs for film. “I learned a lot at Towson, but I felt there was a more to learn,” he said.
Ultimately, Jason decided to attend NYU. His time at NYU has included a class with actor James Franco, who was also a student at NYU. “He cared about being there and was always doing something,” he said. Jason said that Franco paid it forward by affording opportunities to the students in the program who would have otherwise never been able to experience them. “He taught a class on how to direct poetry and brought in well known actors, like Zach Braff for the students to work with,” he said.
Now in his third year at NYU, Jason says that he would like to pursue a career in documentary film-making and wants to do something that makes a difference. “I don’t need to have a famous career,” he said.
This passion for political advocacy is what led to “This Is My Body” being created. An idea, which was sparked in March 2012 and is now being talked about all over the world. Jason says that above all he wants women to be empowered by the film. “All of these rights [talked about in the film] are theirs [women]. Men need to see it. We need to be supportive of women’s rights,” he said.
Jason has some advice for Towson students, “We’re all capable of doing something,” he said. “We are our own enterprises. Think of yourself as your own brand.”
Another Towson Tiger doing amazing things their OWN way! Inspiring. Watch the movie. Share the movie and most importantly do something. This is YOUR destiny.
Image courtesy of Jason Stefaniak