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Platt Alumni Spotlight: R. Christian Anderson

December 8th, 2017 |

R. Christian Anderson

Nicole

We love staying connected with our alumni and it is always such a thrill to hear what they have been doing in the industry since they have graduated. Can you give us a brief overview of what you’ve been up to since you graduated in 1997?

R. Christian

Soon after graduating from Platt College San Diego, I went to work for a top graphic design firm in Carlsbad, California. I was with them for two years, and I gained a lot of experience as a professional graphic designer. While there, I was assigned to design the covers for a tennis industry magazine. I then went to work for them and became their art director. For the next three years, I designed over thirty covers for them, as well as three book covers. After that, I moved to Palm Springs and worked as a senior art director for the largest medical facility in Palm Springs. I did that for the next couple of years and finally decided to put my own graphic design firm together. I did a lot of work building my own clients and reputation over the next seven or eight years until I moved to Las Vegas where I live today. Since 2009, I have been making films both writing, directing, and producing. I started my own production company and I have enjoyed it ever since. I am now concentrating on my screenwriting but I still enjoy writing and editing short films very much.

Nicole

What is your favorite part of working in the film industry?

R. Christian

I love the creativity. It used to be that when someone told me they worked in film I just assumed they were acting. Today, I ask people what aspect of film they work in because now I know there are so many fascinating and interesting jobs in the film industry. Acting is just a small part of it. I started as a production assistant on a short film where I did title design and then I worked on a couple of shorts until I wrote and produced one of my own. Then I was a producer, then I was a director. Today I’m mainly a screenwriter, but I still enjoy directing producing and editing short films and helping colleagues with their projects. I think to be successful you need the experience of every film job really. Probably more than any other job, the one aspect of film I would strongly suggest anyone learning and learning well is film editing. Film editors are very much in demand, it’s slow and tedious work but it pays really well. It’s a part of filmmaking that really allows you to share your creativity. I’ve even acted in a couple of films as well, and I designed a couple of film posters.

Nicole

What are some of the best experiences that you had while attending Platt College San Diego?

R. Christian

Other than attending classes and learning new techniques in the programs and so forth, my best experiences at Platt where mentoring students after my classes ended. I attended class in the morning and I had afternoons off, but most afternoons I just stayed at school and helped those students who were having a tougher time learning the computer or a new program. It was a rewarding experience and it gave me a real appreciation of what the instructors go through with a whole classroom of students.

Nicole

Can you tell us about any Platt instructors or Platt classes that were influential to your success?

R. Christian

I went to Platt in the mid-1990s. My graphic design instructor at that time was Bern Smith. He now teaches graphic design at San Antonio College in Texas. I am still in contact with him and in fact, I visited him in San Antonio just a couple years ago. He’s a remarkable man with a wealth of knowledge. The principles of balance, proportion, design aesthetics; all those things that I learned in graphic design class are all applicable to film. From the opening title design to the production company logo, even the way I direct the camera are affected by things you learn in graphic design class. I certainly learned from him, he is a pretty amazing individual.

Nicole

In what program did you receive your Bachelor’s degree?

R. Christian

I graduated in 1997. That was a year before Platt College San Diego offered a bachelor’s degree so I graduated with an associate’s degree in video production and editing also known as multimedia. I can tell you without any hesitation that if anyone is attending classes at Platt and has decided not to go for the degree to rethink it carefully. More than once I’ve been hired as a graphic designer because I had the degree. I have actually gone through a bachelor’s and now I have a master’s, but a degree is extremely vital if you want to get hired over someone without one. They do look at it very carefully when you are applying for a job. If there are two people with equal talent and equal ability and a comparable portfolio, the person with the degree would get the job, so it’s really worth it to get your degree.

Nicole

How have the skills you learned at Platt helped you with your career?

R. Christian

The skills I learned at Platt that helped me most in my career are graphic design principles. They are used in almost every aspect of the design industry. Learn those; Learn them well, you’ll need them continuously throughout your career.

Nicole

You recently won “Top Music Video” at the “New York Jazz Film Festival” this year. Congratulations, can you speak a little about that?

R. Christian

This win was really an honor. It was the second music video I made that won a top award; both at the New York Jazz Film Festival. I found this wonderful jazz piece by guitarist Pat Thomi and I was already good friends with a photographer in New York named Miriam Danar. I put her images with his music and made a music video out of it. We submitted it to the New York Jazz Film Festival. It was made an official selection and by golly, it won the top music video at the festival. It was a wonderful thing and I was really honored and shared my award with both of them.

Nicole

What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers, directors or screenwriters?

R. Christian

My advice to aspiring filmmakers, directors or screenwriters, don’t typecast yourself. If you love horror, drama, comedy, suspense, space movies, or blood splatter films, whatever it is you like, don’t get pigeonholed into that one style. You need to be diverse and in music the same way. Whether you love classical, jazz, heavy metal, hip-hop or whatever it is you like in the way of music, don’t get typecast for that. Early on, do a little bit of everything, even if you have to invent it yourself. Try something with a piece of classical music; try something with a jazz piece by Ornette Coleman. Do something in the hip-hop thing even if you’re not familiar with the music, find out what it’s about. The more you challenge yourself and the more variety your portfolio has, the more you’re going to be hirable and desirable to people in the industry, and they’ll take notice of you. The other thing I would say is to make solid friendships. Don’t use people along the way. If you start using people because they’ll do something for you, and you don’t give anything back in return either in money or helping them with their project, you’ll get a reputation. The business is too small to get a bad reputation and you won’t be able to work with too many people as time moves forward. That’s about the best advice I can give right there.

Nicole

What was your favorite film project to work on and why?

R. Christian

I did a feature documentary a couple of years ago. It was a real challenge because it was well over an hour. I produced it, I wrote it, and I directed it. It is called “When the World Came to San Francisco” and it’s about the 1915 World’s Fair. It was a huge challenge because it had not only the story of the fair but a dramatic intro and a dramatic ending on the film as well. It was so well-received, it premiered at the de Young Museum of Art in San Francisco in November of 2015 and because of the demand, they replayed it a month later. I’m currently working on a feature drama that I hope to start filming next spring. For this one, I wrote the screenplay and I hope to direct it as well. So I guess those are the projects that I am really very proud of and I want to continue doing as my career continues.

Nicole

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

R. Christian

There is something I’d like to share as a final thought. In the industry, once you start working you’ll be asked to design things whether it’s a print ad or a brochure or a film perhaps. Whatever your client wants you to create, once you create it, be prepared that they’re going to tell you what they don’t like about it and they’re going to change it. Keep this in mind; do your own projects that display your creativity on your own time. If you’re on someone’s payroll, give your boss or your client what they want. It’s their money, not yours. If you learn to please the client and you make them smile you’ll go far in the industry. My advice is, stick with it, give them what they want, and if you can learn to do something beautiful with their desire and aesthetic in mind following all your guidelines you’ll go far in the industry.

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About the Author:

Social Media Content Writer. Librarian, and GE Instructor. Likes creative writing, teaching, photography, poetry, dancing, and cooking.

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