Alumni Interview: Weston McFarlin

How has the Film, Television and Digital Media department prepared you for the working world?
Long story short, film and TV production is not an easy career path. It is an industry that you have to really want in order to “make it.” The department gave me valuable skills that have been important tools of the craft within my profession. More importantly, the program gave me the understanding that it would take passion, strength and grit to be successful in this industry.

What are some things you have done post-graduation?
Since graduation I have been freelancing production on a variety of projects from low-budget commercials, national spots, network television series and, more recently, Netflix originals.

What class did you find most beneficial after graduation?
While I could probably pick out one specific class it was really a combination of a few practical classes within the department they gave me real-world experience that has allowed me to work on various productions. Advanced Video Production taught by Chuck LaMendola, Cinematography taught by Greg Manser and Directing taught by Richard Allen each gave me crucial skills and knowledge that have helped me further my career within the film and TV production industry.

If you could go back to college and do one thing differently what would you have done?
I would have started a production assistant position the moment I knew what the job really meant my first year! It’s something that you HAVE to do if you want to be in production on set. I wish I would have known that generally there is no experience or degree necessary. I could have spent four years gaining more professional experience on set or in the field on location.

What piece of advice would you offer to a student interested in the film, television and digital media major?
If you think you are interested, try it out and see if it’s the right fit. Production, specifically, isn’t easy. It takes a lot of energy, time and resources to make something happen, so you have to love what you are doing or else it’s not worth it. Don’t just do something because it is cool. Do it because you are passionate about it. Whether it’s telling a story or creating beautiful compositions.

What do you feel made a difference in your experience at TCU in the Bob Schieffer College of Communication?
There are two parts to this one. First, the professors are such great mentors! Don’t just go to class and leave Moudy. Stick around and ask questions about their careers and what advice they have to offer. Next is the alumni, your current and past classmates. Almost every single production I have worked on I have had the chance to bring on another former classmate or alumni to work alongside me. These people are the ground floor of your networking base, so get to know them now and it will pay off in the long run.

How did you know that this was the area in which you wanted to focus?
It was something I was always interested in. It took some time to decide that production was where I wanted to focus my attention, which is something I still ponder regularly. But I knew from before my time at TCU that film and TV production was something that interested me.

Did you participate in any groups or jobs that helped you find success after graduation?
While I wasn’t really heavily involved in the film, television and digital media student groups I did participate extensively in the many production portions of my coursework and at times really felt like they had become something more than an assignment. I think it’s important to gain as much experience as you can in the metaphorical “classroom” with as much hands-on learning that you can get. Take advantage of all the opportunities given to you in this program.