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Daily Inspiration: Meet Maria Corso

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Corso.

Hi Maria, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I always loved film and television. When I was younger, while other kids played sports, I did theater. It gave me confidence, helped me build friendships, and most importantly, helped me solidify what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. After graduating college with a film degree, I moved out to Los Angeles with just a volunteer position at a film festival and an unpaid internship once a week at a production company as my only job prospects. Afterwards, I moved on to background extra work, which allowed me a front-row seat in observing virtually every department in film and television production. From there, it was an easy decision. Directing had always been a part of me: I was always creating videos and plays with my friends for fun or for school projects. Seeing it up close made me realize it was what I had wanted to do all along. I thought that if I did the traditional route, become a PA, be promoted to AD, then to Director, then I could make it happen. I quickly realized that nothing in the industry is linear or guaranteed and if I wanted to direct, I had to just do it. I wrote a script and raised the money via crowdfunding and maxing out credit cards. Just having that first short film has helped me get further directorial work. Since then, I’ve directed and produced narrative shorts, documentaries, music videos, Ad spots, and PSAs.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Definitely not smooth. I didn’t go to school in Los Angeles or have any friends there when I first moved out. I really had to hustle, from offering to shadow people for free, taking on internships even though I was out of college, cold emailing production companies to see if they had any openings, apply for countless entry-level jobs and maybe get one interview after 100 emails. Ultimately it’s just about putting yourself out there, networking, reaching out to anyone you can. Even just having coffee with someone you admire or is further along than you can be tremendously beneficial to empower you to keep going. And along the way, making sure you are staying creative, whether it’s writing or journaling or seeing a movie. It helps when you may be feeling discouraged to still feel like you are making some progress towards your goals.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’m a Director/Producer that specializes in creating short-form content, from narrative to music video, documentary and commercial. I’m most proud of the fact that my sets are safe spaces for people to create. I like to hire crew that have good ideas and make sure those ideas are being heard. Filmmaking is collaborative and it’s in my best interest as a director to make sure I work closely with my crew and that they are respected. I can also say that every project I’ve directed has had at least 50/50 crew gender parity from pre to post and that’s something that will continue to be a non-negotiable for me. I think what sets me apart from others is that I’m not into the traditional conventions of filmmaking, creative or otherwise. Filmmaking isn’t black and white, I love experimenting and creating something unique even on the smallest budget. I also believe that even though I do work on a smaller scale, I can still create practices that move the needle on the changes that happen in the industry surrounding issues like pay inequality, harassment, and gender parity. As newer filmmakers, we can create better paths ahead no matter the budget or stakes.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
My acting teacher was hugely influential in my journey to where I am now. I remember one day in class, she said to us, “After all of your training here, you will never watch movies the same way again.” That really stuck with me and the next time I watched a film, I realized I wasn’t watching it like everyone else. I was looking at details, colors, sets, performances, why a camera moved left instead of right and what the meaning of that was. It really shifted my perspective into thinking, is this my talent? Is this what I’m good at? Am I meant to do this?

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