How My Dream Job Combines The Fields Of STEM & Film

Every time someone asks me what I study, they always look so dumbfounded when I tell them that I major in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology and minor in Film, Television and Digital Media. People usually think those two fields are polar opposites, but I believe they can flow together nicely and build upon each other. 

two street signs that say Photo by Brendan Church from Unsplash Ever since I was little, I have always been obsessed with art and science. I love creating and learning, which is one of the reasons I am thinking of pursuing a PhD program after undergrad. I want to use the knowledge I have gained (and will continue to gain) in STEM to apply it to the film industry. It would be so exciting to be able to create films grounded in scientific expertise, such as in documentaries or even semi-realistic sci-fi movies. 

I like to go by this quote by Leonardo da Vinci that states, “To develop a complete mind: Study the science of art; study the art of science. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” That is a mantra I like to live by because it is very true. Our existence is cause and effect-based, so everything really does connect to everything else in one way or another. That is why science and art go hand-in-hand more than you might initially think. 

microscopy image of lung cancer with purple staining Photo by National Cancer Institute from Unsplash I have noticed this first-hand through my classes. In many of my STEM classes that are research-based, we have to write grant proposals at the end of the quarter. You have to not only understand the material but also be able to apply what you have learned in a way that requires a lot of critical thinking and creativity. Proposing experiments to investigate a hypothesis reminds me of drafting a storyboard for a film or choosing a palette for a painting. All of these things need a decent amount of planning, thoughtful choices and boundless innovation. 

I also apply the scientific method to my film classes. For example, in my stop motion animation class, I have to build my own puppet and stage to animate on. This process begins with observation and data collection- I have to look at other stop motion films to gain enough inspiration to get an idea for my puppet. Then I have to figure out the exact measurements in order to build it and buy the necessary material. Next comes the fun but stressful part, which is experimentation with many trials and errors. I have to keep adjusting and modifying the puppet until it finally comes out the way I envisioned. This is essentially how scientists work in the lab. The process and work is the same, just with different materials.

wooden puppet covered in rainbow paint Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels My brain is able to function almost the same in either situation, which is why I am keen on creating a career that allows me to pursue both of my interests. No matter what you study, do not let anyone tell you you can not combine two subjects that are normally not meshed together. Follow your passions and build a career out of what you genuinely enjoy doing. It will be a lot of hard work, but the end result will be success and happiness, and those are two fortunes in life that I think- in one way or another- everyone strives for.