Student Spotlight: Rachel Bass

Rachel Bass

Rachel Bass
Major: Motion Picture/TV Program

Rachel Bass graduated from Amherst College in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Black Studies.

She then applied to graduate film school but was turned down. Moving back home to Chicago, she had every intention of reapplying to graduate school but also decided to register for film classes at College of DuPage.

“The only expectation that I had coming in was that I was going to learn as much as I could about film and to gain experience during my year of preparing to apply to graduate school again,” she said. “My intention was to make myself more competitive the second time around.

“My time at COD has done much more than that, especially the classes I took with Heather Currie and John Rangel. Their classes have artistically and academically challenged me more as a storyteller and filmmaker than any other class in my history as student.”

Bass recently completed her Film Production MFA at Chapman University in Orange County, Calif., with an emphasis on directing. She directed her graduate thesis, “Thicker than Water,” which was nominated for a Princess Grace Award, from a script she co-wrote with her siblings in a writers group they established years ago.

“In our script called ‘The Old Coat Society,’ the setting is 1877 Illinois and the story is about a lonely white boy with polio who develops a friendship with an adventurous white-looking town newcomer, and his racist worldview is threatened when he discovers that the boy is really black,” she said. “The film was my most challenging undertaking as a storyteller, but it pushed me to grow in ways I did not foresee. My team and I are proud of the outcome, and the story unfolded magically.”

Bass currently works as a computer teacher at an elementary school in Inglewood with ICEF (Inner City Education Foundation), an organization whose schools serve the highest number of black kids in the state of California. She plans to teach her students (kindergarten through fifth) computer skills as well as storytelling and filmmaking.

She also continues to prepare for her filmmaking career, taking scene study classes at a drama school to enhance her work with actors and preparing her application for a fellowship program, Project Involve, aimed at minority filmmakers. She also reads as much myth and history as possible, because she plans to incorporate myth more fundamentally into her work. Her long-term goal is to professionally direct historical fantasy and drama films.

While Bass is excited about earning her MFA, she is equally pleased about her decision to take film classes at College of DuPage.

“My experience at COD provided the foundation that is enabling me to pursue film to greater heights,” she said. “The faculty is the bomb. If you come to COD with a purpose, the resources can take you wherever you want to go. My one year at COD has been the most important year in shaping my identity as a storyteller and always will be.”

More about the Motion Picture/TV program

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