With over 40 areas of study at Keene State College, some students have a hard time finding their path. For KSC senior Keelan Brown, his plan was always clear.
Brown is a film production and critical studies major and plans on going on to graduate school to become a film producer. Brown has been interested in film long before coming to KSC. When Brown was 13 years old, he was assigned a film project for his computer class. Being his first time creating a video, everything was very new.
“I ran around the playground with a camcorder and a bunch of my friends and [I joked] around and it was awesome. I had a lot of fun doing it,” Brown said.
Brown said before the project, he was always interested in writing and storytelling.
Although the project left a positive mark on him, Brown did not really think about getting into the film industry until later that year when he was able to watch the Academy Awards for the first time.
Brown said, “I was enchanted by its star power, glamour and what-not. I was just fascinated.” After that, Brown’s parents bought him his first camera and he started building his dream. Throughout his time at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Brown knew he hoped to pursue a film degree. He said this made applying for colleges easier, since there are not many colleges that offer programs with film.
Brown said KSC had always been an interest of his. Being from Farmington, New Hampshire, Brown said he was drawn in by the in-state tuition, the beautiful campus, and the close-knit and extremely impressive film program that KSC offers.
Since coming to KSC, Brown said he has been through many skill-building experiences. During his sophomore year at KSC, Brown was accepted as an intern at the United Talent Agency (UTA) in Beverly Hills, California. During this time, Brown said he was able to go to many receptions and film showings. He worked 12 hour days and saw celebrities like Nick Jonas that he had seen on television. Brown said the best part was spending two weeks at the Sundance Film Festival, the largest independent film festival in the United States.
“I went up there and was put in this beautiful house and I worked my a– off,” Brown said. “My bosses were very ‘[the] Devil Wears Prada;’ very ‘I need this done immediately.’ It was a huge culture shock for me, being there.”
Brown said his first year at KSC he was “just some freshman running around with a camera.” He said he did not really know what he was doing. After the internship he found his motivation to get serious about his passion.
“I think Sundance was a defining moment for me, because it was in that moment that I [realized] there are so many people here in the film industry and they are making so much money and they are doing very well for themselves.” Brown said that was the moment when becoming a filmmaker went from “being a dream to an actual, tangible career path.”
Brown plans for graduate school, he knows his end goal. Brown said he currently wants to become a film producer for movies focused on historically marginalized groups. Last year, Brown was one of only 50 college students around the world to go to the Telluride Film Student Symposium in Colorado. He was able to see many exclusive first viewing of films and meet his biggest role-model, Todd Haynes. Haynes started out during the year 1990 at the height of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic when the public perception of the LGBTQ+ community was pretty negative. Brown said that Haynes’ movies showed this really incredible, fun to watch side of queer cinema.
“Coming to college, recently coming out of the closet, that was like a real inspiration of mine. It was a very empowering thing to witness,” Brown said.
Brown said it inspired him to hear about how Haynes started his career and his impact on the LGBTQ+ communities. “[Haynes] is a really nice, intelligent, down to earth guy,” Brown said. Haynes and his producer, Christine Vachon, have really fueled Brown’s passion for filmmaking and he hopes to follow in their footsteps in the future.
To Brown, producers are the businessmen on set; the ones who really get the film made.
“The goal is to produce films on my own, to team up with filmmakers who have their own vision and help them bring their visions to life, ” Brown said. He added that he wants his films to “reshape, and redefine… Cinema to follow [the modern American] culture.”
Film production students here at KSC have expressed their excitement of Brown’s work in hopes that one day they can see him on the red carpet and at the Academy Awards in years to come.
Brown’s professor Irina Leimbacher said, in an email interview with The Equinox, she sees a lot of potential in him and hopes he will go far in his career.
KSC senior Kevin Aruilio met Brown during their sophomore year. Since they are both majoring in film production studies, Aruilio has seen a lot of Brown’s work and has been partnered with him for projects before. Aruilio said he believes film is a way people can express things freely. He added that he admires Brown and other people who can turn film from a hobby into a professional passion.
“He knows what he wants to do and knows how to get it,”Aruilio said. “If there is going to be one person [who makes it], it will be Keelan.”
Angelique Inchierca can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org