Around this time last year, I had made a decision to leave Belmont University and continuing pursuing my passions back home in Kansas City, hoping to put together the puzzle pieces that would ultimately lead to my next step in filmmaking.
When I first stepped foot back in Kansas City on May 7th, 2017, I felt a sense of hope. A sense of wonder, a feeling of desire. In 3 weeks, I would start my internship with the Kansas City Royals where, from what they made it sound at first, I would be on the field, photographing players and fan reactions and so on. Driving up to Kauffman for my first game was agonizing. I hit traffic immediately once I got onto I-35 and I did not want to make a poor first impression by being late on my first day. After breaking a few traffic laws, I made it to Kauffman on time. As I walked the long walk from the parking lot to the stadium, I kept day dreaming about the things I would get to do, the people I would meet and just how blessed I was to have an opportunity to show off my talents.
That wonder soon turned into dread and broken promises and manipulation.
My bosses had created this alternative reality in my mind where they made it seem like all what I had just said would come true, but this is true life. They had me sign up to work green screens and awkwardly circumvent around the stadium and fans, asking people if they want an overpriced photo on a low-grade Canon T5i Rebel (anyone who has a pulse knows you can get a better image on an iPhone). For the first month, I smiled and waved and asked people if they wanted their photos taken. 99% of the time they would say no, but that 1% would always want their photos. It seemed nearly impossible to meet the sales goals each game but somehow, I persisted. I was getting paid and was able to watch free baseball games 3–4 times a week. I was not necessarily enjoying what I was doing, but it was a good first step into what I believed was going to become something great.
Then July 2nd came.
Whenever life gives you something good, the bad is always lurking there just around the corner.
I woke up on July 2nd around 8:45 am. I reached over to my bed side table to grab my phone. On it, a single notification from my boss. A text message which read -
“Hey Chandler, I’ve been meaning to call you but it’s a holiday week. I wanted to thank you for your help and being a part of our team but it’s really not a good fit for us. You’re a very talented photographer and I know you’ll do well and I want to wish you the best of luck but I’m sorry I have to terminate your employment. I will mail you your paycheck in full.”
I replied, with my hands shaking from sheer disapointment “Um may I ask why?”.
6 phone calls later, I decided to give up. I sat in my living room, in anguish, going through the phases, wondering what I did wrong. To this day, I still have no idea why I was terminated.
Life comes at you fast, but I knew I had to move on.
After the internship had abruptly ended, I was already planning my next move. I know that I am passionate about filmmaking and I love it with every bit of me, and I was ashamed in a way to be going to school where they were making me start from scratch. So I took it upon myself to reach for the stars and apply for a top 10 Film School — University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
With little to no people knowing, I was doing all of this underneath the table. I applied to the school, doing my research and so on. I dragged myself through my sophomore year, with each class feeling like it were on molasses. I sat in my intro film classes, making connections to my times as a High School freshman in my intro to video production class. I did not put any effort into any of projects, just making them “good enough” so I could get my A and move on. I felt like I was not being challenged nor did I feel the professors were making an effort to challenge those kids who were more talented than an intro level. My mind was never on school, but the future. I’m always told to live in the present, but why do that when the future hold more exciting things to do?
I soon got an email stating I was granted an interview with UNCSA. During my Thanksgiving break, i made the trip up to Winston-Salem and gave an interview. The current students there were detailing to us what to expect from the interview process and how long they would take — 5 or 10 minutes.
My interview lasted 40 minutes. It was mainly about Chocolate Chip Cookies and Stanley Kubrick.
After the interview, I had to play the waiting game. I refreshed my email every hour on the hour after 3 weeks, wishing I would get an email.
Then, the email came.
I had been accepted.
I felt a sigh of relief, I felt like I was worthy again. I felt accomplished. The Royals took that confidence in me and tore it up.
UNCSA instilled that back in me.
But nothing was set in stone. I knew I wanted to leave Kansas City because even though I love it here and it truly is my home, I knew I could not succeed here or grow more as a person. The main thing I had to think about besides myself is like I stated earlier, my future, education, career, money.
I have been dating Emilie for 2 years now and she is as big of a part of me as my bones are. I could not just let her go or forget about her while I moved away. Once I was accepted, we spent many nights detailing out the pros and cons of her coming along with me on this new adventure. Some nights ended in fights, some nights ended with me sleeping on the couch, some nights were spent crying. However we finally came to an agreement after many long nights.
We have decided to move to Winston-Salem so I can pursue Filmmaking and she can pursue a nursing degree.
She will be saving lives while I direct people pretending to save lives.
This does not go without saying that I was considering another move.
I missed Belmont. A lot more than I thought.
The people, the food, the atmosphere, the city, the landscape. I re-applied there, thinking there would be a chance that I would attend there again. I critcize Belmont a lot and I recongize their faults, but I was willing to give them a 2nd shot.
They slowly then kept digging their own grave.
I soon came to realization again that the Belmont Administration does not care about their student body or what they desire the most out of their institution. Belmont swiftly kicked an upstanding fraternity off campus after some of ATOs members went to Chilis for dinner. This is only one of the major communications problems Belmont is creating for itself by not listening to the students.
Belmont also continues to disapointment in the only field I feel confident in (filmmaking).
I always argue that one cannot put restraints on art. Art is subjective and always up for debate. However Belmont Motion Pictures restricts students on what they can do or film AND you do not own the rights to what you make. Everything you create within the Belmont University guidelines is not yours, it is theirs. You get to screen your projects once and that is it. No distribution whatsoever. I attempted to start a dialogue with the head of the MOT department at Belmont with regards to who gets the rights to the projects, but I never got any replies from them.
Belmont had a chance to redeem themselves in my eyes, but they kept twisting the knife.
But now, as Kylo Ren stated, I have to let the past die. In order to grow as a person and as an intellect, I have to continue pursuing different opportunities, taking chances and seeing how life will unfold for not only me, but Emilie as well.
My previous post about transferring, to me, felt much more heartfelt, it had a soul to it. This transfer post was a long time coming and something I do not feel too emotional about.
Unlike my time at Belmont, I did not build lifelong friendships at UMKC. I had not joined a fraternity and nor did I even feel welcomed there. I came here to further my career and build a resume. Even though I did not accomplish fully what I first set out to do, I still took the right steps to keep going.
In the days and months between the internship and school, I isolated myself. I blocked everyone out.
All that what left was the voice inside, and I could hear it clearly. It didn’t have to yell- it whispered, and said to me briefly, plainly, and kindly- what it had to say.
What it said is between me and the voice.
I ignored it, and the following months were full of suffering for me- I hollowed out, stopped listening to music, watching movies, never picked up my camera, started slipping into old habits. All of the vibrancy I used to see became de-saturated. Lost. I used to see art or magic in everything, especially the mundane- the ability was buried under wreckage.
Slowly, once I had done enough damage to myself, I began to climb out of the hole. Clean. When I made it out, the only thing left inside was the voice, and for the second time in my life, I no longer ignored it- because it was my own.
There are many roles for me to play in this ending. I can be a well-wisher, ill-wisher, sympathizer, vilifier, comedian, rain clouds, a victim-
That last one, again, is important. I have never thought myself a victim, nor my comrades, nor my family- especially my family.
I learned that failure is apart of life. We as people (especially me) learn from our mistakes. In The Last Jedi, Yoda told Luke that failure is the greatest teacher.
Most of what was in that film resonated with me. I relate to Kylo Ren in how his character was constructed and how he is confused about his place in the universe. How he feels lonely. How he was been rejected. I relate to what Yoda was attempting to tell Luke on Ach-To. I relate to Poe’s recklessness, thinking he was doing the right thing when he was just blinded by his own cockiness.
The clearest actions come from truth, not obligation. And the truth of the matter is that I love Kansas City.
However I felt lonely in Kansas City. I was confused on where I belonged in life.
But I am now 100% certain UNCSA is where I am suppose to be.
So, if this finds you well, and sheds some light on anything, or my personal account and feelings on the matter, then it is out of this love, mutual and shared, not duty.
I am going to end this the same way I ended my previous post because I truly believe I will never write anything better than that.
In closing, I want to thank every single friend/colleague/acquaintance. I have learned from you, maybe more than you think you’ve learned from me. My only regret is that I am awful with names and bad with goodbyes. But I never forget a face, or a feeling- and that is what I have left from all of you.
I feel love.
Since I am bad with goodbyes. I refuse to let this be one.