Rhea Alsharabaty, MFA ’22, Film and Television Production

What inspired you to pursue a master’s degree in film and TV production?
My dad used to take a lot of pictures, and that’s how I got interested in photography. I started off taking pictures with my phone, then I started using a DSLR camera, then film cameras. And I also used to perform music in Lebanon quite a lot, in bars. I grew up there. The combination of music and photography translated into film for me. I studied film production as an undergraduate and wanted to continue my education here.

What and who are your influences as a filmmaker?
Currently, based on what I’m writing, I’m very inspired by David Cronenberg, and Federico Fellini a little bit. Jim Jarmusch is one of my main inspirations too. There’s also Aki Kaurismäki, a Finnish director that I really love, and Akira Kurosawa. For now that’s who I’m liking, but tomorrow or in a few hours we’ll see, I’d name different people.

What made you decide to come to SFTV, and how’s the experience been so far?
When I visited the campus, the graduate director, Gino Brancolini, spent a few hours showing me every room and every area at the Playa Vista campus, where the graduate programs reside. He sold the school to me, honestly. The fact that students own the rights to their films is a big plus also. And I was looking for the intimacy of the small class sizes here.

The school has more than lived up to my expectations. My professors, teachers, the counselors—everyone cares and is doing their best to help us go through our journeys as students. There is a healthy spirit of competition here, but it’s about competing against ourselves to do our very best work. And as peers, we push each other to succeed. We constantly challenge each other, which I love. It’s like having family away from home.