Andrew Morrison (’17) never thought about filmmaking in his childhood, yet he found himself working on professional movie sets while still in college. His fast-track career resulted from a combination of character and education.
Morrison grew up in a small town and, after high school, went into the army. He says it was “a big wake-up call for me as far as work ethic, as far as purpose.” It shaped his character and proved his capability, yet it could not provide him an outlet for artistic expression. He yearned to be a creator.
Before leaving the military, he discovered the art of screenwriting. He learned that screenwriters make money writing and selling screenplays. He decided “I wanna do that!” and enrolled in Liberty University’s Cinematic Arts program, where he pursued screenwriting as well as cinematography.
Morrison connected with his cinematography professor who developed his lighting and coloring skills. He earned a spot training in the electrical department of the school’s film, Extraordinary, which was released in theaters across the nation. Professional keys (film department heads) hired for that project further mentored Morrison in lighting and gaffing.
Because of mentors, Morrison gained professional skills, experience, and even contacts. In the summer before his senior year, the keys he had worked under brought him onto a production titled Mom and Dad, starring Nicholas Cage. He became Best Boy in the electrical department, a top position and a rare opportunity for a budding film worker. His contacts helped him get into a professional union and, a month before his college graduation, they got him onto CBS’s show, The Inspectors, which won an Emmy for lighting direction. He believes the Cinematic Arts program gave him an education equivalent to 4 -5 years of work experience in the industry. “It really helped me figure out what I wanted to do as a career.”
Since then, Morrison’s guiding values have helped him navigate film jobs and balance them with his career and family goals. To date, he has worked on a variety of projects, including Lady and the Tramp, Ford v Ferrari, a Super Bowl commercial with Bill Murray, and The Glorias, in which he worked with respected craftsman Rodrigo Prieto. He says his career success “goes back to work ethic and craftsmanship. You will reap what you sow.”
Along his journey, Morrison also reaped the reward of marriage. Currently, his wife is pursuing a film career in wardrobe while he is studying screenwriting. Writing allows him to travel with her as she follows production jobs. Lately, they are preparing to welcome their first child.
Reflecting on his experiences, Morrison says: “My faith has grown exponentially. It’s the age-old analogy of a seed. When a seed grows, you put it in the earth, and it’s the struggle of trying to push through that causes it to sprout roots . . . Then the roots find water, and they gather strength until eventually, through the struggle, the seed emerges as a plant. That’s the same concept as filmmaking. God’s given you everything you need. He’s given you his instructions for life and what to do, so that’s got to be in your seed. . . As long as you’ve got that, the water will come, and you’ll grow. . . A plant never stops struggling.”
To film students, Morrison says, “Film needs you! There are so many hurting people . . . you have what they’re looking for”: Jesus Christ. He has you there for a reason, so stick with it. “If you’ve got a great work ethic and a great heart, you’ll make it.”