Ethan: How Acting Helped with My Anxiety

Hello, everyone. I’m here to talk about how acting has helped me grow as a person. I don’t think I am a very good actor (I mean, I don’t think I’m too bad, either), but it has been a very big part of my college experience, and it has genuinely helped me with my anxiety.

This is me circa 2009. I was a pretty shy kid. For a while, I had dealt with anxiety (and I didn’t know it until recently (oops)). Since realizing what it was and talking to my doctor about it, I began to try things to combat it. One of the things was acting.

I took an acting class my sophomore year of high school. It was scary. I was the oldest in the class, so I at least had some sense of seniority, but I was still afraid to let go. I was uncomfortable in my appearance, and I didn’t want people to think less of me if I did things that weren’t “cool.”

For reference, this was me sophomore year with my dad and brother.
For reference, this was me sophomore year with my dad and brother.

Thanks to (second) puberty, and some attention to my diet, I am more confident in my appearance. Luckily, this coincided with a time during which my friends and I began messing around with making short films.

This is me now (shoutout to CA Christy).
This is me now (shoutout to CA Christy).

My friends would often come up with stories to tell, and they would prefer to be behind the camera. This frequently left me in front of the camera and on screen. I quickly became comfortable with it, and I ended up getting pretty into it. I was enrolled in the College of General Studies when I first got to BU. Through this, I looked into extracurriculars to get more involved with film and television. One of the outlets I found was assignments in my friends’ classes.

I was in an ungodly amount of Production 1 films, and I made it into a handful of Production 2 films as well.

This was one of the Production 1 films. It’s a silent film, but we were able to come up with idea, shoot it, and edit it all within two hours.

During my junior year, two friends and I started a Youtube Channel named COB. We assumed different roles for the channel, and I took on the roles of acting and producing. We set out to make short comedic videos on a weekly basis. Most of the time, we aimed to be absurd as possible while still hitting a bigger audience. Given the content, I often needed to act outside of my comfort zone.

This is our Halloween episode from last year.

I, along with some friends, wanted to make a video with a larger production than usual one summer. We came up with a story, launched a Kickstarter that earned $15,000, and flew down to South Florida to shoot the film.

https://vimeo.com/231416121

Due to some unexpected obstacles, I ended up stepping in to play the main character in the film.

This past semester, I auditioned and was cast in the musical Legally Blonde on campus. I was given the role of Kyle, the UPS Delivery Man. This required me to wear short shorts and dance on stage… in front of about 500 people for three different nights. This was objectively the hardest acting I’ve done not because the role demanded too much but because I could see my audience. I was used to having as many takes on camera as I needed, but I only got one chance each night to get everything right – and I could see the people judging that. I may or may not have blacked out every time I went on stage, but I can honestly say that it was one of the most incredible comfort-zone-shattering experiences in my life.

Kyle, the UPS Man.
Kyle, the UPS Man.

As an anxious and shy person, I didn’t have very many refined social skills. I found that I tended to stay well within my comfort zone, and this didn’t help me grow. When I began to realize this, I took steps to break out of that funk, and one of the most helpful ones was acting. Sometimes acting like a doofus helps you become more comfortable being yourself in front of others.

Ethan: Iconic School Movies to Help You Get Through the Semester

Hey, everyone. It’s time to go back to school! You may not be excited as me, and that’s okay. I compiled a little list of school-related films that I love to help get you in the mood.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Fast Times is an iconic film (to most of your parents (probably)). It’s an essential ‘80s film, and it has inspired many other movies primarily with a great stoner-esque performance from Sean Penn and the infamous pool scene with Phoebe Cates. The way the film portrays high school and life around it aims to be realistic while humorous, and it ended up as a classic.

Dazed and Confused

Dazed is the first of three Richard Linklater films on this list. It takes place on the last day of school one year in the ‘70s, and it focuses on a slew of main characters as they navigate the beginning of their summer vacation – for better or worse. Linklater’s films are almost always character-driven, and it made out to be a favorite for a lot of people just trying to get through high school.

Everybody Wants Some!!

Everybody Wants Some!! is the “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused. Linklater’s followup to the previous addition to this list established its own brand and style while keeping the charm from Dazed. This film centers around a college baseball team in the ‘80s as some of them begin college and others torment the newcomers. The film only contains about a minute of screen time in an actual class, but as far as capturing a college lifestyle outside of school itself, Linklater proves his worth.

Grease

Grease has been my favorite musical movie since I first saw it. My mother grew up loving the film, and she could not wait to show me. I fell in love with some of the songs and the characters and the overall charm of the film. The late ‘50s feel of the film is “electrifying,” and it made for an easy addition to this list.

Napoleon Dynamite

Is there a movie every elementary/middle school kid quoted more than Napoleon Dynamite? Doubt it. Jon Heder’s portrayal of the iconic character inspired a plethora of Halloween costumes over the years, and the well-timed, super dry comedy in the film has solidified its inclusion in any school-themed movie list.

School of Rock

This has been and always will be one of my favorite films. School of Rock is one of the very few movies I keep on my laptop because I can watch it anytime and as many times as I want. Jack Black is a hero, and Richard Linklater can do no wrong as a director. Though almost no schooling actually takes place throughout the film, it almost entirely takes place in a school… and it’s in the title… good enough for me.

The Social Network

The Social Network, with writing by Aaron Sorkin, directing by David Fincher, and acting by a stellar cast, is one of the smartest and well-crafted films I’ve ever seen. Feel free to fight me on this. I love this film, and I think I quote it at least once every few days – it’s okay that they insult BU at one point.

Animal House

Animal House was a movie that my dad kept saying he had to wait until I was older for him to show me, and it hurt him because he loves it so much. I later found out that it was good that I waited to watch it, and also I love it too. In fact, it’s my third favorite film. It’s a quintessential college film (and party film), so please watch it if you haven’t.

Recess: School’s Out

Recess: School’s Out technically takes place during the last day of school and the following summer, but it’s too important to not have on this list. I would watch this film every time I visit my grandparents growing up, and it’s a tradition I’ve continued to this day. It has an incredible soundtrack, a fun story, and an overwhelming wave of nostalgia.

Ethan: The Importance of Extracurriculars

When I arrived at Boston University my freshman year, I was fully prepared to major in psychology. I was accepted into the College of General Studies, and after that I planned on continuing into the College of Arts and Sciences. That was the plan.

One day during my first semester, my roommate was going to the BUTV10 general interest meeting, and, on a whim, I decided to join him. I had worked a little with film in high school – nothing more than hanging out with a few friends and a camera, though. I went in with no expectations, and I half-heartedly signed up for a few shows. These shows went into production for the semester, and I dropped by Bay State’s first shoot of the season. Bay State is a soap opera (the longest-running college soap opera in the nation, actually), and I had no intention of becoming very involved in the show. I ended up staying for the full five hour shoot, and I loved it.

As a production assistant, I was doing everything from building sets to operating boom mics. I had no idea how to do any of it prior to the shoot, but everyone taught me the basics, and I was on my way. Throughout the semester, I was able to operate cameras, dress sets, and even act a little bit. The show is entirely student run, and the community of people working on set became an entire circle of friends.

Through working on the show, I became friends with a lot of the older students. When they would need to produce films for class, they would ask me to work on their crews. This was perfect for me because I wasn’t in COM yet. I gained experience on sets before I took classes in which I needed to produce my own work.

Eventually, I encountered a frequent question from my peers: Why aren’t you a film major? I never really had a good answer. For the longest time, I had convinced myself that pursuing a career in the arts was foolish. It seemed like every adult around me wanted to push science and math fields on me, and I just assumed that was what was best for me.

After being given the tools and opportunities to gain experience within film and television, I realized that not only is it what I love to do, but I can be successful doing it.

Classes (obviously) provide you with knowledge on a variety of subjects, but especially within COM, it’s important to put that knowledge to use. Throughout my time at BU so far, I’ve joined a number of clubs and organizations like The Daily Free Press, WTBU, Spoon University, and On Broadway. Though they may not fall into the same fields, these groups have offered invaluable experiences and a number of friends along the way.

I’m not the first person to say this, and I certainly won’t be the last, but get involved. See what you like – ditch the stuff you don’t. If you cast a wide enough net, you just might find something you love.

Bay State

Ethan: Winter Survival Movie List

Boston recently celebrated the 2-year anniversary of one of the biggest snowstorms the city has ever seen, and it has me feeling nostalgic. I thought back on those days holed up in my Warren double freshman year, watching Netflix and eating popcorn, I wondered how everyone stayed (somewhat) sane. So I made a winter movie playlist to help everyone get through a potentially tough season in our beautiful town.

  1. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Star Wars is perhaps the most culturally important franchise our species has seen – if you haven’t seen it, I suggest you take advantage of a snow day and marathon all the films. This installment prominently features Hoth, the ice planet. Many a meme was created during the blistery winter relating Boston to the remote planet.

  1. Snowpiercer (2013)

After a climate change experiment goes wrong, the world is consumed by ice. The last survivors of our world are aboard Snowpiercer – the train that runs around the globe. A class system develops on the train, and tensions constantly run high. The film assumes the tone of a comic book film and is full of well-placed action sequences, but there is also a strong story underneath. The class divide is certainly topical, and with climate change as a central motivator, this film will continue to be relevant for years to come.

  1. The Hateful Eight (2015)

Yes, it is 3 hours and 7 minutes long. Yes, it mostly takes place in one room. Yes, it’s still full of blood and vulgarity. People largely overlook this Tarantino film in favor of his more fast-paced movies like Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, and I think it’s unfair. The story largely unfolds in a cabin in Wyoming during a snowstorm. A group of 8 – made up of bounty hunters, criminals, and lawmen, stay the night, (portrayed by a stellar cast) and violence ensues. Though this is not my favorite Tarantino film, I highly suggest it if you’re a fan of his quick dialogue and interesting characters.

  1. Eddie the Eagle (2016)

This feel-good movie flew under the radar after its release, but it deserves much more attention. Producer Matthew Vaughn drew inspiration from Cool Runnings to make this story of an Olympic underdog come to life. All his life, Eddie Edwards simply wanted to compete in the Olympics, but he could never find a sport. One day, he discovered ski jumping, and the rest is history. The film takes from the true story of Eddie Edwards’ life, but it takes a decent amount of liberties with other characters and storylines. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this movie so much that I watched it twice over winter break.

  1. The Thing (1982)

John Carpenter’s The Thing is easily one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time. Coincidentally, it’s one of the greatest thrillers of all time as well. In The Thing, a research facility in Antarctica is invaded by an alien that presents itself as different humans. Paranoia consumes the crew as they attempt to figure out who is still human. The Thing has gone on to inspire a myriad of films throughout the years due to its creative story and iconic ending.

  1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

I’ll confess: the first time I saw this film, I thought it was subpar. I was young and ignorant, and I simply didn’t get it. Recently, however, I thought about the story and decided to revisit it. I loved it. It will simultaneously break your heart and fill you with hope. The main idea behind the story is: What would happen if someone could erase you from their memory? The question unfolds into a complicated and remarkable story. The impressive cast takes on characters that all embody different levels of emotional stability, and it’s hard not to fall in love with them. I include it on this list because a lot of the movie takes place during the winter. Also Valentine’s Day is coming up, so this is prime to hit you right in the feels.

  1. The Shining (1980)

This was obvious. The Shining is about Jack Torrance and his family staying in a hotel through the winter to keep watch over the estate. Jack goes stir crazy, and you probably know the rest. Kubrick’s Drama/Horror is iconic, and a must-see. Imagine not being able to leave Warren for DAYS, and you can easily relate to Jack.

  1. Frozen (2013)

It’s overrated. It’s still very good though. (Note from the Editor, CA Megan: no winter movie list is complete without this film. Its all about sisterhood, and has a talking snowman. Also the most annoying Disney song ever, but what can ya do. Some parts are actually golden.)