MAGNIFYING, No. 28: Merritt Mecham, Department of Film & Media Arts Program Assistant

March 22 2021

MAGNIFYING is a series dedicated to showcasing the talent of our students, faculty, and staff to help you learn more about the remarkable individuals within our creative community here at the College of Fine Arts. 

Merritt Mecham is a Program Assistant in the Department of Film & Media Arts. Originally from Rexburg, Idaho, she graduated from Brigham Young University in 2015 with a degree in Media Arts Studies. Prior to coming to the U, Merritt worked for BYU Radio, KSL NewsRadio, and the Sundance Film Festival. She is currently an MFA student in Emerson College’s Writing for Film and Television Program.

Can you tell us about your role in the film department?

I’m the Program Assistant in the film department, and I’ve been here for almost two and half years. I schedule our student production areas, give tours to prospective students, write our student newsletter, act as a receptionist for the department, manage office purchasing, and help out with whatever else comes up. My favorite elements of my job are where I get to connect with students — whether that’s through events, tours, or writing alumni spotlights. 

Talk about your background and how you got interested in film.

I graduated with BA in Media Arts Studies from BYU in 2015, where I focused on screenwriting and film studies. I originally started out studying English and Creative Writing, but being an English major felt restrictive. I’m interested in so many things, and film encompasses visual arts, technology, sound & music, business, history, and social issues. Additionally, writing for and about a primarily visual medium is exciting and challenging. 

Film was definitely not an obvious choice, however. I grew up in a small town in southeastern Idaho, so it wasn’t like I had ever been exposed to the film industry or even anything outside of the blockbusters that showed at the one local movie theatre. However, in high school I stumbled on writings by Roger Ebert. I had no idea that he was and is one of the most prominent film critics in history, but I fell in love with his writing. It didn’t matter whether his reviews were positive or negative — they began to teach me how to watch films. The rest is history, I guess. Basically, I just really love movies! 

In between my undergrad and coming to the U I worked for the Sundance Film Festival, did some radio reporting, and nearly went to graduate school on the academic/Ph.D. route. I’m glad I ended up here! 

Feel free to stop by my desk and ask me what I’ve watched lately, or share your favorite cult films.

Can you talk a bit about your current studies, films excited about, and your goals for the future?

I’m currently in Emerson College’s MFA in Writing for Film and Television program. I’m primarily interested in writing feature films, though television is increasingly interesting to me as limited, experimental series become more popular (think Fleabag or Atlanta). My pie-in-the-sky ambition is to write and direct, but the idea of earning a living by writing is exciting enough. I especially enjoy writing horror and comedy — which I suppose are both rooted in my love of surrealism and the absurd!  I’m definitely still a film studies/history nerd, so I’m usually down some film rabbit hole (recent obsessions have included Australian New Wave film The Last Wave and 70s paranoia classic Klute). Feel free to stop by my desk and ask me what I’ve watched lately, or share your favorite cult films. I’m also lucky enough to occasionally write for the indie online film magazine Bright Wall Dark Room. My most recent piece there is about the Muppets!