Alumni Spotlight – Zach Otley

October 14, 2022

Zach Otley (‘19) took a circuitous route to finding his passion. After graduating from MMFS, Zach went to Hofstra University, intending to major in Exercise Science. But he began to realize it was his choice of minor—Cinema Studies—that really grabbed his interest. So after two and a half years, Zach transferred to NYU Tisch School of the Arts to pursue a Bachelor of Art in Cinema Studies, with a minor in Producing.

Zach, who was at MMFS from elementary school through graduation, credits his strong foundation in English with helping him in his pursuit of a Cinema Studies degree. “A lot of what I do now is analyze films historically, theoretically, and symbolically, and write essays.” Zach remembers really enjoying his English classes, especially with teacher Abe Maneri and former MMFS teacher Keith Gauger. English provided a foundation in story analysis and essay writing that Zach continues to use in college. “MMFS helped me go from a young kid with dyslexia who couldn’t read or write to a college student who can easily read hundreds of pages and write extensive papers weekly.”

This past summer, Zach attended a study abroad program in London. “It was great being able to live in a city that I love for an extended period of time.” Working directly with industry professionals, Zach learned about various career paths in the film industry, from filmmaker and producer to journalist. Zach is currently focusing on finishing his studies and degree and hopes to begin an internship this spring. “Whether it is producing, marketing, film publications, or working in archival and curation, cinema is definitely an area that I am passionate about pursuing.”

To any MMFS student hoping to find a major they are passionate about pursuing, Zach says, “Try exploring a range of different courses to find what interests you.” He emphasizes that we should go toward what drives us and excites us, and that looking back at the MMFS classes that sparked excitement is a great start.

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