When she was 10 years old, Allison Baumgart started her own production company with her neighbors. Every weekend, they made videos for their YouTube channel, with Allison editing them in Movie Maker. All told, they ended up with around 60.
Her interest in filmmaking stayed with her. As a student at Maine-Endwell High School, she started making video podcasts, and then joined the video production program at Broome-Tioga BOCES. She won awards for her video work, including first place in the Tompkins Cortland 24-Hour Film Competition and the SkillsUSA state competition, going to Louisville for the latter to compete in nationals.
“I immediately loved it and I stuck with it,” she said of her experiences behind the camera.
A conversation she had in her BOCES class, however, stuck with her. The topic: Kathryn Bigelow, the director behind such acclaimed films as The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty.
“At higher levels, female filmmakers are less common. When you think of directors, I bet most people couldn’t name a female director,” she observed. “People like Kathryn Bigelow are paving the way.”
Now a SUNY Broome student in the Communications and Media Arts program, Allison is one of two finalists for the Vanguard Award, which goes to students in fields considered non-traditional for their gender. (The second finalist, Nathan Smales, is a Physical Therapist Assistant major.)
She chose her local community college for its proximity to home, and the opportunity to take her time when selecting potential transfer schools. It made sense in other areas, too; as a Fast Forward student in high school, she had already earned academic credit, allowing her to take more advanced courses in her major once she reached campus.
“I was surprised about how much I liked it,” she reflected on her experience at SUNY Broome. “I like how you could go anywhere from here. I can stay close to home and figure out the next step. SUNY Broome was the perfect option.”
The storyboard for her future
The Communications and Media Arts program is very hands-on, and Allison has created her own short films – doing everything from writing to directing actors, shooting the scene and editing.
“That class gave me the opportunity to go all in and see a project from start to finish,” she said of her Introduction to Filmmaking Course. “There was a lot of working with cameras and different aspects of production.”
One of her greatest motivators is instructor Ed Evans, who nominated her for the Vanguard Award. She is also inspired by prominent directors, including Bigelow and Chris Nolan, whose projects include The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Prestige and Inception.
Outside of the classroom, Allison is vice president of the Communications Club, which is headed by fellow Hornet Kipp Hallett. This year, the club has a new initiative: They plan to make promotional videos for other SUNY Broome clubs. Allison and other communications students are excited about the possibilities.
During her winter break, she continued to develop her skills, this time as an intern at Lockheed Martin, where she is assistant to the media department’s videographer. The internship represents an opportunity to expand her professional experience – approaching individuals for interviews to setting up shots and editing.
As she enters her final semester at SUNY Broome, Allison is finalizing her transfer plans and continuing to explore what aspects of filmmaking appeal to her most. She hopes to enter Buffalo State’s Television and Film Arts program, continuing her trajectory in the field she loves.
When asked to describe her SUNY Broome experience, she offered a single word: enlightening.
“I wasn’t expecting to have as many opportunities as I’ve had,” she explained. “To get the most out of Broome, you have to want it and you have to work for it. For me, that’s been a positive.”