November 21, 2017 11:13 am
Like many college freshmen, Serena Berry wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to study when she first enrolled at Pierce College. Her passion had always been art, but she thought she may have better career prospects if she pursued a construction management or business degree. After taking a number of different classes in the three programs, she settled on art thanks in part to her experiences with faculty members in the program.
“I really connected with Patrick Daugherty and Fred Metzger in the theater program,” she said. “I’m so grateful that I was able to try different classes and programs, which is really why I chose to attend community college.”
Even after she completed her associate degree at Pierce College, her relationships at the college remained strong. It was one of her former professors who offered her a spot in the college’s first script development workshop offered through a partnership between Pierce College and Seattle’s The Film School.
“I accepted right away and was so excited to be able to learn screenwriting in an organized way, rather than trying to learn on my own,” she said. “It was incredible being in a workshop with experienced professionals who are practicing their craft.”
The Film School is a non-profit school that provides students with a solid foundation and expertise to work in creative environments in business and the arts. The school has faculty including Emmy Award-winning actor Tom Skerritt, writer/director Warren Etheredge and Disney Pixar Consultant Brian McDonald. Thanks to the partnership with Pierce, students can take part in periodic programs and workshops located on the Fort Steilacoom campus.
During her time in the eight-week script development workshop, Berry began writing the script for her debut film “Shards,” which quickly caught the attention of her instructors. The Film School ultimately selected her screenplay to develop into a short film, with a budget of $20,000. During production, Berry gained experience in all areas of filmmaking, from directing and producing to writing and acting.
The story behind “Shards” is inspired by her brother and father’s life. “The film is about a person saving himself from a bad situation, and it’s also about survivor’s guilt as well,” she said. “Those are two topics my brother and father dealt with in their own lives. The film has a lot of heart in it, and it’s a very personal story to me.”
The film has received rave reviews from a number of film festivals around the country. The film won the Best Student Narrative Award at the Global Impact Film Festival in Washington, D.C., and was also selected into the Holly Shorts Film Festival in Hollywood, which is an Academy Award-qualifying festival.
“I am so proud of the awards the film has received, and I’m so happy to even be accepted into the Holly Shorts festival,” she said.
Berry plans to continue writing and directing, and is currently working on a new web series with The Film School. “I just want to be a working artist and stay in the industry as long as possible,” she said. “I want to keep doing a little bit of everything. I’m so excited about future filmmaking opportunities with the amazing people I’ve met.”
She credits her time at Pierce for giving her valuable experience that provided a strong foundation for success. “I spent three years at Pierce, and was able to try as many classes as I wanted to,” she said. “Taking classes in construction management, business and art all lend themselves to filmmaking and have helped me so much in my career today. My time at Pierce was such a great experience for learning and provided an important foundation for my future.”