Lights, Camera, Action

Amy Julian

With the surge in Boston-based films, Beantown has become quite a place for aspiring filmmakers and producers. While many big-time filmmakers are being imported from L.A., there are plenty of opportunities for aspiring filmmakers and producers right here in Boston that can open the doors to an amazing future in the world of digital cinematography.

Just ask Cody Signore. The Burlington native started his career in film at a young age and eventually received his Certificate in Digital Filmmaking in 2007 from Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging, an experience he claims made him the filmmaker he is today. “The CDI was a great up-and-coming school that was pushing a hands-on experience, right from day one,” Signore recalls. He remembers the experience as an “intense” one and a wake-up call. “I definitely made mistakes,” he laughs. “But one of my friends kept telling me ‘Don’t get discouraged, that’s how a boy learns,’ and he was right.” After the nine-month program Signore received his certificate, but got much more from the experience than the piece of paper. “I met some great people and developed great relationships, many that I still have today” he remembers.

In the competitive world of filmmaking, Signore realized quickly that in order to be successful, you must gain experience from wherever you can get it, adding to his resume by working on projects like “Dancers to Save Darfur,” participating panel discussions, working with Bruce Willis on the set of the feature film The Surrogates, and even filming a documentary about the Drumlin Farm National Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary. Don’t overlook the smallest or seemingly random projects, Signore advises: “Opportunities come at the craziest of times, so just try to snag as much experience as you can.”

Signore’s work in all genres, from interviews, to short films, to his most recent projects working with the band Gravehaven to document the release of their new CD Calico, has given him a better understanding of what the film industry is all about and that there is always more to learn. “I filmed the process of the Gravehaven CD…and didn’t realize that I would find a band I really liked out of the project,” he explains. It’s also helpful, he says, to have someone working with you who is not afraid to offer up constructive criticism. “It’s important to be able to learn about yourself and what works,” Signore offers. “I had an idea of where I wanted to go with the project and I was working with my buddy [Spencer Campo] who was not afraid to say ‘That doesn’t work you idiot’…we were able to make it really great because of that level of comfort.”

Students interested in film, regardless of where they decide to receive their education, should realize it’s an industry that relies more heavily on the experience one gains rather than just a prestigious school or fancy degree. Sure you could receive Masters and doctoral degrees in the fine arts, but Signore says that some of the best advice he received debunked the notion that certificates weren’t worth anything. “When I first started film school, there was this underlying feeling of ‘Oh we just get certificates, not degrees,” Signore remembers. Quickly though, he realized that “people don’t look where you went to school, or what degree or level of education you have, they look at what you’ve done. I definitely understood that after I got out of school and began talking to employers.”

Now looking to start his own small production company with his friends from film school, Signore encourages students who are interested in getting into the film industry to go with their dream. “Start as soon as you can…work on anything,” he asserts. It’s definitely a competitive business, especially with the number of students and professionals vying for the same jobs; but Signore believes that you can always make it happen. “There’s so much film work flowing into the Boston area, it’s opening a lot of opportunities for the people who deserve it,” he says. In regards to film, or any area that one may be interested in, Signore says it’s drive, determination, and passion that will allow anyone (in film, accounting, or linguistics) to reach their goals: “If it’s something you really want, go with it; you’ll definitely find a way to get there.”

Cody Signore is a digital filmmaker from Burlington, Massachusetts. He is a graduate of the Digital Filmmaking program at the Center for Digital Imaging at Boston University. For more information or to speak with Cody about working on an event or project, contact him via email at [email protected].

Amy Julian can be reached at [email protected]