Scott Essman

Digital Filmmaking & Video Production

Digital Filmmaking & Video Production Instructor
The Art Institute of California—Orange County, a campus of Argosy University

Digital Filmmaking & Video Production Faculty Member Scott Essman

Be punctual, reliable, focused, upbeat, and willing to do whatever is asked of you. Scott Essman , Digital Filmmaking & Video Production Instructor
, The Art Institute of California—Orange County, a campus of Argosy University
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

When I was five, my parents took me to see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It was so rich in colors, characters, sets, props, songs, exotic locations, and unforgettable dialogue. Even at that age, I couldn't believe someone had the audacity to put a story like that on screen. I’ve pursued moviemaking ever since, and teaching has been a logical extension of that.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

I use both my experiences and those of my colleagues to give students a real-world perspective. I've had students practice editing raw footage from my own films, and brought in guest speakers from the industry to help connect the coursework to the real world. I’ve arranged informal mentorships so many of my students can shadow working filmmakers, specifically targeting their career goals—art direction, editing, sound, 3D environments, screenwriting, directing, etc. And I make sure to share regular updates and industry status reports I get from trade papers and my contacts with filmmakers to help students keep up with what’s happening in the industry.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

I have students in my editing classes take raw video files from a baseball film I made, Ten Men on the Field, and edit a scene together from this footage using the screenplay as their guide. We screen each final edit so students using the exact same material can show their individual take on that scene. It’s an opportunity for them to work with actual dailies from the film industry, and understand that there are as many ways to cut a scene as there are editors.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

Any film project can include students from nearly every program we offer. We have Photography students on hand to document the shoot in stills; Advertising students contribute taglines and marketing; Graphic & Web Design students create an official site for the film and design packaging materials; and students from Animation and Video Effects & Motion Graphics add their skills. We’ve had Industrial Design students build props and set pieces, and Interior Design students create the layout and look of the set. Fashion students have designed costumes, and Culinary students have provided craft services and catering. They learn to work together toward a common goal, and they see how things work in the real world.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

I stress how important it is to be disciplined, dependable, and honest.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

Be punctual, reliable, focused, upbeat, and willing to do whatever is asked of you.