Alumnus inspires students to act as storytellers through film

After graduating from Lawrence University, Mike Lee ’66 went to graduate school at the University of Kansas. From there he journeyed on into the world of filmmaking where he has worked as a producer and a filmmaker in a variety of film types, from commercial advertising to documentary film. He returned to Lawrence on Tuesday, July 7 to deliver a lecture entitled: “Filmmaking: an Inside View”.

In his lecture Lee discussed a vast array of lessons he has learned from being a filmmaker. This included general philosophies about film and filmmaking supported by personal anecdotes as well as examples of different kinds of film.

Lee began his lecture by saying, “Film is an extremely powerful communication vehicle.” This idea was one upon which the entire lecture seemed to be based. Lee theorized that it was perhaps from this power that the societal popularity of film rose and has persisted.

In the presentation Lee chose to emphasize three things for new filmmakers to consider. The first of these was his belief that in a world in which it is so easy to get access to films of varying quality, the most important thing is to retain high quality as a priority over quantity. He also emphasized the importance of marketing and distribution once a film has been completed. The third piece of advice he had fore new filmmakers was that opportunities are everywhere and all new filmmaker must do is take advantage of them.

Lee emphasized the importance of taking into account the power of combining visual and auditory components in filmmaking. As a demonstration of the power of sound in filmmaking, Lee asked the audience to close their eyes while he played clips of different kinds of music and asked members to describe what kinds of things they visualized while the music was playing.

At the end of the lecture Lee opened up the floor for questions. In his answers, he offered advice for new filmmakers. He said, “Be willing to work hard, be able to deal with ambiguity, and perhaps most importantly, be a storyteller.” When asked what he felt his liberal arts education did to help him in his career, Lee answered that he felt Lawrence had imbued in him an ability to communicate well with and understand people in a variety of situations.

Lee was brought to campus by the career center after working out scheduling conflicts. “Our alumni are always eager to do what they can to help current students,” said Dean of Career Services, Mary Meany ’83. “That’s the magic of Lawrence.”

In addition to bringing speakers such as Lee to campus, the career center also has “Guest Drop-in Hours” with mentors and hosts. Some of these Guest Drop-in Hours are scheduled for Thursday, May 9 with Shaun Donnelly ’68 to discuss working in the State Department and international business.

Elsewhere on campus, other efforts are being made towards engendering filmmaking on campus as Catherine Tatge ’72 oversees the creation of the Hurvis Center for Interdisciplinary Film Studies and works on strengthening film on campus.

Senior Camilla Grove said after the speech, “It was really cool to see a Lawrence alum come back and take time out of his busy schedule to show us how to use our liberal arts education after Lawrence.”