Don Dexter, Ph. D.
Digital Filmmaking & Video Production
Digital Filmmaking & Video Production Instructor
The Art Institute of Colorado
Never, ever give up your dream. Don Dexter, Ph. D. , Digital Filmmaking & Video Production Instructor , The Art Institute of Colorado
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
I fell in love with broadcasting at age 11 watching TV and listening to the radio. When I was eight, I started piano and drum lessons. I saw the broadcast and music industry as a way to combine doing the things I loved most. I began playing professionally at 15. On my percussionist mentor’s advice, I wrote down my goals: to play drums with famous bands, play on hit records, work with famous artists, perform on national TV shows, and play at Carnegie Hall—before I turned 30. I checked them all off at 26.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I work stories of actual events that happened to me into lectures, studio projects, and demonstrations. Since I still produce and direct TV programs, students can see my work and we can have discussions based in a current, real-world context.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring—and how do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?
Everything has a story—even a 15-second TV spot. In my production classes, I emphasize storytelling. Students tell a short story using any combination of music, lighting, camera shots, and movement. They love the hands-on experience. I believe my classes inspire students and make them think and see things differently. I also believe that I inspire them to experiment with various shooting and storytelling techniques on their own.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
My class often produces content from program areas such as Fashion and Culinary. My students work together with those from other areas and synergistically come up with a program that’s unique. This process involves doing the research for the script, lighting the props, building and designing a set, etc.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
Never, ever give up your dream.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
The media industry is highly competitive, and attitude is extremely important. Most hiring and firing decisions are based on attitude. Be the best kind of professional—and person—you can be. Network. Attend meetings and seminars. Join professional organizations. Shake hands with people who do the hiring and firing. And again, never give up your dream.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’m very proud that many of my former students are working in the media industry—some of them at the highest levels.