Alumni Profile: Alumnus chases successful film career across the globe
Looks to help other students share in his success
Thursday, January 3, 2019
Written by: Lauren Leetun for Seminole State
Seminole State College alumnus Brandon Widener can pinpoint the exact moment he knew he wanted to be an artist in the film industry. Not more than five or six years old, sitting in a darkened movie theater, he recalls being mesmerized by “The Lion King” and dreaming about a career in film production.
Widener graduated from Seminole State in 2010 with an associate’s degree in multimedia technology. He selected Seminole State College because it was close to home, allowing him the opportunity to live with his parents while saving money to eventually move to Los Angeles, where he knew he’d have the best shot at breaking into the industry. In addition, Seminole State’s affordability was attractive to Widener; he didn’t want to come out of school with any student loans, and while working part-time as a server and attending Seminole State as a student, he was able to graduate without incurring any student loan debt.
“I learned a lot at Seminole State that I was able to immediately apply to my dream job right out of college, and I know how fortunate I am to be able to have landed that opportunity."Brandon Widener
Widener credits Seminole State’s editing coursework with helping him land his dream job right out of college. From a little boy who marveled at Disney’s work in “The Lion King” to a paid storyboard artist and eventually an editor for Disney XD in Los Angeles, Widener recalls how his experience editing in Avid Media Composer software while at Seminole State help set him apart from other applicants and made him an attractive choice for the job opportunity at Disney.
When he was a Seminole State College student, Widener was featured in a profile article detailing his love for exploration and his goal to use his career as a springboard to allow him to travel the world while making a living as an artist. At the time, he’d visited nearly 20 countries. Today, believe it or not, he’s traveled to 58 countries as a byproduct of his career, often called upon by producers who know his skill for directing and editing exemplary documentaries and branding projects in the travel industry.
From National Geographic to CNN to the producers of music videos and so much more, Widener’s role as a freelance cinematographer and director ensures he’s on the move, going wherever the projects take him.
When thinking back to his time spent at Seminole State, Widener recalls how influential retired TV program professor Pat Fitzgerald was as he completed coursework in multimedia television and film production. He also recalls how helpful Mary Kimball in Enrollment Services was in helping him to modify his required elective courses to ensure he was getting the most out of his time spent at the college. For instance, his initial track required that he take a drawing course. He knew he wouldn’t use that skill in his film production career, so he asked to change the elective to one that would be more beneficial. Kimball worked closely with his professors to change the required coursework, so Widener could still graduate on time having taken the courses that were most applicable to his career choice.
At only 30 years old, Widener has certainly established himself as a top-notch freelance cinematographer and director. And while he’s grateful for every opportunity to build his travel film portfolio, he has his vision set on a narrative film production to start in the fall of 2019 in Florida.
“I learned a lot at Seminole State that I was able to immediately apply to my dream job right out of college, and I know how fortunate I am to be able to have landed that opportunity,” stated Widener. “By saving on tuition costs and staying close to home, I was able to purchase my own camera equipment, which has help to make me a more desirable candidate for jobs throughout the world. I’d like to pay it forward and help other students who may want to break into the industry, sharing tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.”
Widener, who left Los Angeles three years ago to reside in Brooklyn, NY, welcomes the chance to connect with Seminole State College film students and recent graduates who may want to become engaged in his narrative film project next fall. Connect with him on Instagram @brandoncolewidener and he’ll add interested students and recent grads to his contact list to reach out to as the production timeline becomes more solidified.
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