ArtsForce Asks: Director and U Film & Media Arts Alumna Sage Bennett

September 07 2021

By Cayden Turnbow

This past month, I was able to speak with commercial director and Department of Film & Media Arts alumna Sage Bennett. Sage recently completed a sunscreen commercial for EltaMD that was shot in Salt Lake. I remember seeing Sage’s capstone film “The End” in one of the first classes I ever took at the U. I remember being blown away by the quality, and it really set a precedent for what I should be striving for by the time I get to my capstone class.

As a film student myself, I really wanted to get an idea of what it was going to be like post-graduation, and Sage was more than willing to give her take on that transition. 

As art students, it’s important to remember that our career will most likely take many unexpected turns, and our expectations change as we learn more about what we like to do – plus balancing all that with being able to afford rent. Being able to see how other artists have established their careers, and how much their vision has shifted can be beneficial because there really isn’t one way to succeed. “I make a living as a commercial filmmaker [...] but I guess from my education I thought that my paths were limited. Either I’m going to become a famous director of feature films immediately, or not,” Sage said. “There are so many paths in between where you can still do film and make a living.”

Sage credits her internship at St. Cloud, now Namesake, as the experience that best prepared her for her career as a commercial director. “I think that was instrumental in my career. I wouldn't know what I would be doing if I hadn't done that internship,“ she said. She started out as a production assistant and climbed up the ladder into eventually getting signed as a director at Namesake. This proves that internships provide valuable networks and experiences for those starting out. Who knows, your internship could lead directly to a more permanent position at the company later on. Sage’s experience made me remember: make sure you put 100% of your energy into creating a positive experience for whatever internship you can get a hold of.

“There is this narrative that if you want to work in any sort of art it's going to be really, really hard and I'm not saying it's not hard – but there are ways to do it where if you are passionate about it, and it's what you really love, I think you can be far more successful in that than in something that you don't care about.”

Beyond building a professional reel for film and production work, Sage also built a solid community while she was in college. “I think the biggest thing is community and finding people that you can align yourself with that also want to succeed,” she said. For a lot of people, community starts in college. Whether it be getting involved with different internships or joining a club, being able to team up and work with a variety of people is a skill that continues beyond campus life. There are so many resources on campus for students to utilize. It's just a matter of if you are willing to take the time to try it out. “Filmmaking is just a giant group project. [...] Learning how to work with other people, especially people that maybe you don't agree with, or you wouldn't think you would work together well, learning how to do those kinds of projects with my peers really helped me to prepare.”

So test yourself. Try something new.

As Sage said, “You'll never know unless you do, and now is such a good time to try stuff out.”

Regardless of if you choose to apply for an internship, focus on creating a cohesive reel, or build up a community, make sure to ground yourself and enjoy where you are at the moment. “I have kind of realized that every time I accomplish something, I want to accomplish something else, so I might as well just be happy where I am […] Enjoy where you are in your journey and make the most of that.”

Artsforce Takeaways

  • Really experiment and discover what you enjoy creating while you are in college.

  • Get involved in a community that shares your passions and ambitions.

  • Find your niche. Start to build up a portfolio that showcases your skills.

If you are interested or want to learn more about ArtsForce, join here.  

Author Cayden Turnbow is an Emerging Leaders Intern at ArtsForce, the Film Production Club President and a Commercial Director in Student Media. He is majoring in Film and Media Arts.