Robert Wenzek, BA, MA
Digital Filmmaking & Video Production
Digital Filmmaking & Video Production Instructor
The Art Institute of Vancouver
If you're kind, respectful, and work your butt off, you'll do well. Robert Wenzek , Digital Filmmaking & Video Production Instructor , The Art Institute of Vancouver
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
I’ve been living a creative life for as long as I can remember. When I was about 9 or 10, I’d round up neighborhood kids and we’d put on plays in my back yard...and in a way, I never really stopped doing that. I recently wrote and directed a feature film where we actually filmed a scene in my back yard. Some things never change.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I share stories and bring in examples of projects I’ve worked on. I outline my process—mistakes and all. I usually preface those moments by saying, “Here’s a mistake you don’t need to make...because I already made it for you.”
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
In my Introduction to Editing Class, I guide students through the process of developing a storyline, creating and filming a shot list, and editing the footage into a short film. Everyone edits separately, so they all tell the story differently. Students not only have the opportunity to learn filmmaking techniques, but also understand that there’s never just one way to tell a story.
In what way do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?
Students are often so terrified about making mistakes that they don’t take risks. Filmmaking is all about calculated risks informed by research and testing. In a class like Music Video Production, I encourage them to think outside the box and push themselves creatively.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
Collaboration is fundamental to filmmaking. It shows students how to communicate and work as a part of a team—much like they will when they enter the workforce. When students from different programs work together, they learn cross-discipline skills and form new relationships that often last deep into their professional careers.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
Always do your best. Follow your passion, show up, and take ownership of your mistakes and successes.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
It’s a tough industry, and you need to know when to take the lead and when to take a supporting role. Every role on set and in the production pipeline is important, and there’s something to learn in every situation. Recognize that every new situation is a new learning opportunity. If you’re kind, respectful, and work your butt off, you’ll do well.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’ve been fortunate to do what I love over the last 20 years—both in terms of doing creative work and teaching and mentoring others.