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Jess Van Natten: Film Extraordinaire

Jessica Van Natten
Film Studies Major

I sat down with Pitt’s resident student cinematographer to talk about her love of film and find out what she’s working on. She just finished up her internship this past summer at the Silk Screen Asian Arts Organization for the Asian American Film Festival and now works on videos for Pitt’s student affairs. If you see a tall girl with a camera around campus, it’s probably her.

Check her out:

HC: What made you pick your major?
Jess: I’ve known since I was in middle school that I wanted to be in a directorial-type role. I love being a leader. When I got into high school I found that I enjoyed watching film from a production side of things, thinking about how they did certain scenes or shots. I took classes at Pitt and decided I wanted to go into cinematography.

HC: What’s your favorite aspect about the film program?
Jess: Pitt has a connection to a production school called Pittsburgh Filmmakers. Pitt as a university isn’t production based but analysis based as film studies. So, the best part is that you come into a big school with a lot of names and people but get access to a smaller school (Pitt Filmmakers) that gives you the opportunity to get big school and little school.

HC: What exactly is Pitt Filmmakers?
Jess: It’s a smaller production school that teaches film, video, and photography. I’m currently a teaching assistant there. They are built to be a go-at-your-own-pace certificate school. If you were a full time student there it would take you two years to finish a certificate.

HC: What kind of work do you do on campus with film?
Jess: I work for the student affairs video production department. We create the majority of the Youtube videos and various departmental videos at the university.

HC: What’s some videos you’ve worked on?
Jess: I was in charge of the current OCC video, the suicide and depression prevention video which was required watching for freshmen, and soon-coming LGBTQ website videos. I also go to the career fair and shoot B-Roll and interview people.

HC: Tell me what your previous internship was and what did you do there?
Jess: My previous internship last spring semester was with an organization called Silk Screen Asian Arts Organization. I was hired as a video programming interning. My main job at first was to assist. I helped the small organization program the film festival. Every year they do the Asian American Film Festival and my job was to contact distributors and create a line-up. I also screened 65 Asian American films from January to our deadline in March for the festival in May. The second part was continued into the summer and had to do with what I want to do. My boss is a filmmaker and he encouraged me to pursue my dreams to be a cinematographer. So, he gave me an opportunity to film the festival and work with their organization to create a 15 minute documentary about it.

HC: Okay, here’s a fun question. What’s your favorite TV show?
Jess: Right now, I really love the Newsroom.

HC: What do you see yourself doing after graduation?
Jess: I plan on entering The Cinematography Guild and becoming a filmmaker.

Mandy is an English and Communication dual major at the University of Pittsburgh. She plans on graduating this April, but decided that she'd finish her last three classes online and move to the big apple for an editorial internship at Ladies' Home Journal. She is a proud Her Campus Pitt member from afar and the previous Editor-in-Chief. When she isn't exploring the city, she enjoys absorbing every TLC show, following news leads on Twitter, or blogging for her Small Girl in NYC Wordpress. She's orginally from Philadelphia and will always have a cheesesteak over a salad. Her previous internships include Entertainment intern for VERVE Management Social Magazine and the editorial/fashion intern for WHIRL Magazine. Magazines are her obsession, but writing is her passion. Follow her on twitter @mandy_velez or send love to her at mandyvelez16 [at] gmail [dot] com. 
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