In the world of work, no one values professional community more than freelancers. They understand that reputation and personal connections mean as much as a resume toward landing the next job. Combined with a clear goal and consistent experience, community can propel a career forward, job after job. Drew DeFosset (’17) is proof.
DeFosset has focused on cameras and related equipment most of his life. As a kid, he watched extreme sport documentaries, and the innovation of the camera crews fascinated him. He experimented with making his own equipment for supporting the family camcorder so he could learn more about mechanical operations. Soon, he wanted to learn how to tell a story through a camera lens.
His career path being obvious, DeFosset’s parents encouraged him to go to film school. DeFosset toured Liberty University’s newly established Cinematic Arts Department. He visited a class discussing cinematic cameras and filters. He looked at a RED Dragon camera up close. The class wasn’t traditional; it wasn’t centered around books. Impressed, he committed to Liberty early and spent his high school free time studying the operation manuals of Liberty’s film equipment. It was the beginning of a habit he says still helps him gain value on film sets.
In his junior year of college, DeFosset began the cohort phase of his degree. Instead of lectures and reading, he was trained on film equipment and techniques with classmates in short projects. He loved it: “It was so easy to just wake up and go to class.” That year, his cohort participated in the feature-length movie, Extraordinary. DeFosset started as a jib technician but his mentor on set, Diego Montiel (a visiting professional), introduced him to the role of 1st Assistant Camera (AC). His career goal came into sharp focus. He eagerly volunteered to work as 1st AC on some of his classmates’ thesis films.
During his senior year, DeFosset volunteered to help Montiel on another movie, Run the Race. Shortly before graduation, Montiel hired him as 2nd AC on Indivisible. DeFosset finished his coursework and traveled to Tennessee. Before that project finished, he secured his next job on a production titled F.R.E.D.I. where, because of a classmate’s recommendation, he became 1st AC for B camera.
Since then, personal connections have helped DeFosset continue to secure AC-related jobs, including the recent Christian-market hit, I Still Believe. “There’s a Liberty community that gives working people like myself and [classmates] who are still in the industry essentially a network to pull from when people are looking for crew, which is really great.” The Cinematic Arts’ cohort structure naturally builds classmates and alumni into a professional network. Students learn their classmates’ work ethics and keep in touch on exclusive Facebook groups where they can share job opportunities and help each other well after graduation.
DeFosset so values his network he gives back by returning periodically to the Cinematic Arts Department to train students on set. “The hardest thing to get across to the film students is you need to be really good at one thing.” Find a specific career goal and go after it by learning from the bottom up.
Despite several film credits in cinematography, DeFosset maintains a posture of learning. He trusts God is developing expertise in him that will lead to fulfilling achievement someday—hopefully, as Director of Photography. Certainly, his community will be there to applaud him.