Please tell us about yourself

My name is Deborah Sutherland and I grew up in New York City where I was lucky enough to get my film education at my parents’ movie theatres. I worked in the film business for many years before becoming an advertising copywriter, which I then did for fifteen years. Then, changing careers once again, I became a high school English and Film teacher.

Why did you decide to become a teacher?

I became a teacher because I wanted to do something meaningful and creative with my life, and while working as an advertising copywriter was certainly creative, after 15 years, I felt I needed to do more than just sell toothpaste (or perfume, or plywood, or sneakers, or whatever else I was hired to write and sell). I also wanted to return to my first love, Film, and knew that if I became an English teacher (which I had majored in in college, and of course had experience in as a working writer) I would also get to teach film, if I could convince the powers that be to let me. As it turned out, I ended up at a high school where I was ultimately able to teach 4 courses in film – one of them being IB Film, which I started at the school.

What sort of opportunities/rewards does studying Film provide students?

I think that whether students intend to pursue a film career or not, studying film in a course like IB Film has many, many advantages. For one, it allows them to view visual material critically and to understand it as a text that uses certain devices to convey meaning. And when students make films, it requires them to be organized and to collaborate well with others, all good skills to have no matter what you do in life. And finally, the writing and reading students are required to do in IB Film allows them to develop their ability to better understand other’s ideas and articulate their own.

Are there any developments in the film-making industry that you are excited by?

I am particularly excited by the wealth of opportunities currently available in film and television. We are truly in a golden age, and there really is a job in film for almost anyone. I have students who have entered the film industry as directors, editors, cinematographers, writers, actors, animators, lawyers, finance executives, costume designers, and marketing professionals and I think it is a very exciting time to be young and interested in the business today.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about?

Just that I am incredibly happy that Pamoja is making it possible for kids all over the world to take IB Film, and that I am proud to be part of that effort.


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