Throughout the fall semester, I have attempted to cross the entire gamut of dreammakers.
In just a few breezy months you’ve met Bear McCreary, renowned composer for film and television whose credit list includes Step Up 3D, Battlestar Galactica and The Walking Dead.
You’ve been introduced to Rod Gilfry, the Grammy-nominated opera singer who has performed on prominent stages around the globe in 74 different roles, and Brian Ralston, a working emergency medical technician turned prolific film composer.
You’ve also read the inspiring advice of Hollywood screenwriter Richard Outten, Disney animator Sandro Corsaro and adventurous entrepreneur Heather Apraku.
Finally, you’ve been informed of the endeavors of many wonderfully ambitious USC students, including musicians and artists such as Kevin Jones, Dan Blanck and Tyler Demorest, as well as Peter Lee Johnson, the prodigious violinist who performed at Spark! the Visions and Voices multimedia event earlier this year.
Yet, within this motley crew of strangers there have been visible patterns in their advice for us here at USC. Each, whether he or she is currently in the trenches or beyond the point of no return, shares an understanding of the hardships we all must confront on the road to our version of happiness.
There is not a shred of self-imposed ignorance when it comes to the realities of certain industries, which are inherently and terrifyingly unstable.
Each individual has lived through the dubious state of pre-college limbo and empathizes with those who have deviated from an artistic or obscure career path for “safer,” more mainstream careers.
“I wouldn’t say I have completely strayed from this path, but I do constantly doubt whether I am good enough to do this,” said Jones, a senior at USC majoring in international relations (global business) and founder of Viceroy magazine.
Without fail, each individual also remains overwhelmingly positive about the journey and the importance of doing what you love to do. Every story is a testament to the possibility of life-affirming achievement despite the stigmas, and each person is a tangible example of someone living his dream with the same stability as the businessman, scientist or physician.
“Certainly there were moments that can be incredibly lonesome … [but] as challenging as that time was for me on a number of levels, it turned out to be one of the most treasured experiences of my creative career,” said Corsaro, creator and showrunner of Disney XD’s Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil.
At the same time, however, this column was never meant to be an assault on the career of the businessman, scientist or physician.
Our society would not function effectively without their existence, and such professions can be equally rewarding for an individual. The aim of this column has always been to halt the subordination of the arts in relation to other fields.
The unfortunate truth is that the arts are treated as lesser interests in elementary and high school and therefore children mature with the perception that artistic ambitions lack practical application when they grow up and enter the “real world.”
But what if we designed a curriculum that married the sciences with the arts in an equal and interdependent partnership? What if young people who struggled in mathematics were given equal opportunity to prove their intelligence in dance and filmmaking?
Yes, programs do exist in schools, but many are underfunded and undefended, and they are not integrated into the curriculum.
“I was always involved in music and had a talent for it but it seems no one really believes that you can make it a career. My parents have been nothing but supportive … but I have heard many words of discouragement along the way,” said Ralston, who composed the score for Luke Kasdan’s Don’t Fade Away.
Dreammaking, by my definition, is the idea that anyone can dream, but it takes passion and resilience to achieve that dream and make it real. It is a process that begins with a more open and empathetic culture, which is certainly burgeoning today, and it is a concept that demands we see the arts as having the same relevance with which we see the sciences.
It’s a sad thing to see a young man give up dreams before he has even been given the chance to fail.
Where would we be without Stephen Sondheim, William Faulkner, Emily Dickinson or Robert Zemeckis? What if their parents and their peers had dissuaded them from pursuing their respective interests? We cannot forget that all of these men and women were once children with childish hopes and childish dreams.
Most importantly, remember that every single individual featured in this column throughout the semester is a USC student or graduate. They all took the same general education courses, ate in the same dining halls, and they continue to bleed cardinal and gold.
Now is not the time to start losing faith in your goals.
Are you still dreaming?
Brian Ivie is a sophomore majoring in cinema-television critical studies. His column, “Dreammaking,” ran Tuesdays.