DON BURTON - BFA in Sculpture, 1997
On his work:
I'm a freelance creative director and editor working with producers, advertising agencies and film studios in LA. Projects range from short and feature documentary/narrative films to spots for companies like Pepsi and General Motors. In 2003, I started collaborating with The Post Studio in Manhattan Beach, California. Together we offer a "concept to finish" creative environment with editorial, motion graphics design and project management resources. We've edited and/or produced close to 100 DVD featurettes and numerous promos, infomercials, television pilots and one feature film trailer. Last year we expanded into production by developing television content and feature material. Currently, I'm developing two scripts-a horror thriller and a story based in Afghanistan that I'll both produce and direct later this year. Additionally, I'm working on a film installation sculpture for a show on Cape Cod this fall.
On his recent accomplishments:
In December 2006, I completed the edit on an independent feature called Ranchero. It was spotted by a high profile film representative who contacted the producers for viewing. Though we're still waiting for an offer, this initial studio contact serves as recognition that we're operating effectively.
On his proudest achievement as an artist:
I don't think I'll be "comfortably" proud until I direct a feature myself and find that it touched people personally. But that's an accomplishment with too many variables to worry about day-to-day. My end goal is to create honest work that moves me personally. Additionally, I'm realizing a true need to balance my fine arts foundation with film aspirations and a neglected desire to teach both. It's a tall order to harmonize this and I'm working on it.
Sculpture (my major at UMass Dartmouth) and film can seem worlds apart. But in this cinema-dominated industry, I'm continually referencing everything I learned as a fine artist in school. The CVPA experience coupled with many electives in the English department revealed so much to me because the professors encouraged experimentation across disciplines. In fact, I'm glad I went to UMass Dartmouth for sculpture instead of attending a film school elsewhere. The support system I left school with, the creative and practical challenges presented by professors and fellow students-the entire experience-continues to help me see life as an artist and serves as an essential foundation for everything I do creatively.
On CVPA faculty:
There were so many supportive, inspiring people in the CVPA! Professor Rick Creighton is an amazing teacher who continually challenged me and guided my work in unexpected directions. Professor Eric Lintala was extremely open to experimentation and demanded that we live and breathe our work. Professor Tony Miraglia was a great leader and his Composition and Design course was one of the best. They were all influential in helping me choose the path I'm on today.
On lessons learned in the "real world":
Understand the business of your medium, whether its cinema or the gallery scene-but know it so you'll understand how you fit into it. Gain a higher understanding of "acceptance" and "rejection." Often a "yes" or "no" from a studio exec depends on what he had for breakfast. The same goes for a film festival or gallery. Sometimes there's no connection between how "good" the work is and if you get in - clever marketing, connections and luck go a long way, plain and simple. Knowing this can liberate you to make honest work. So keep making work. Allow your work to be critiqued. Listen to honest reactions. Sometimes you'll get a critique purely intended to shake your resolve. It's competitive out there. You'll be able to tell the difference if you understand yourself first. So pay attention to your evolving needs as a person and an artist. They're definitely linked. Never be afraid to take risks. The entire adventure is a risk-it needs them to live. And again... keep making work!
Advice for today's students:
Take advantage of everything you can. The fact that CVPA is part of a larger University is such an asset-the structure offers so much diversity. Find ways to connect it all. Build bridges between disparate disciplines. Find professors whose work and lives as artists speak to you personally. Their examples will light those dark moments when practical life as a creative person seems overwhelming. Open yourself to fellow students. Collaborate and stay in touch with them. They'll be your emotional support system now and in the future. Most important, use this time to experiment and discover who you are.