Taylor Austin '24 
Milford High School, Milford, New Hampshire

The ground beneath me began to shake as an oil truck instantly burst into flames. A massive ball of fire flared into the sky, illuminating my awestruck eyes. Suddenly, hundreds of gallons of water rushed down onto the truck, safely extinguishing the blaze. “CUT!” a director yelled. I cheered, astonished by the scene I had just witnessed.

My love for Hollywood began with moments like these from my childhood. Disney’s Hollywood Studios was home to attractions like The Great Movie Ride and The Studio Backlot Tour, both of which introduced me to the special effects, intricate illusions, and thrilling stunts seen in professional films. These two attractions were early indicators of my love for filmmaking, I just didn’t know it yet.

Years later, I am still captivated by the magic of cinema. Whether it be a summer blockbuster, an Oscar-hopeful, or a cult classic, I’ll take any opportunity I can get to experience an original film. For a few hours, I can forget about the world around me, becoming completely immersed in the universe on-screen. Characters come alive, their personalities and stories intertwining themselves with real-life experiences of my own.

I’ve always been what you would call a “tomboy”, a far-from-fragile girl who loves football and loathes dresses. Having strong female characters like Hermione Granger and Princess Leia to look up to on-screen has had a profound impact on my confidence as a young woman. Seeing another woman hold her ground and stand up for herself was truly inspiring to me. I may not wield a wand or a blaster, but I’ve certainly used the strength of these characters as a personal inspiration to stay confident and secure in myself.

My passion for film does not end with characterization. I am just as invested in the technical, behind-the-scenes aspects of cinema. Cinematographers bring stunning landscapes and perfectly-framed shots to life, invoking awe and emotion in both casual moviegoers and film fanatics. Lighting designers shape a film’s mood and tone, adding flares of emotion and rich symbolism to climatic scenes.

I still have so much to learn about filmmaking, and I cannot wait to tackle the challenges that come with producing a film. When I do, I know that I’ll put my heart into it. Maybe my protagonist will defy the stereotypes that surround young women, choosing jeans over skirts and football over dance. Maybe she’ll love brisk autumn mornings, and never understand the appeal of hot, sticky, summer afternoons. Maybe she’ll discover her peculiar affinity for both science and cinema. Whichever direction I decide to take my characters and my story, my life experiences will have a huge impact on the final product. This is yet another thing that I love about movies; they are entirely unique to the individual who creates them. No two people could create the same exact film no matter how hard they tried — there’s always a little bit of a director’s soul woven into their work.

I’m still unsure whether I’ll follow my passion for film into a full-time career or a part-time hobby. If I decide to pursue filmmaking, I hope to use my platform to spread a message of hope, perseverance, and strength. Films can reach millions, possibly even billions of people, giving me the perfect opportunity to make a profound impact on someone’s life. If just one person can be inspired by one of my characters, much like I was by Hermione and Leia, I’ll be satisfied. Even if I never sell out theaters or break a box office record, I will have achieved success if I can make someone’s life just a little bit better through my work. Through filmmaking, I hope to invoke the same sense of wonder and awe that I once felt as I experienced the magic of cinema for the very first time.