"I wrote a sequel to From Dusk Till Dawn when I was in seventh grade."
So began the filmmaking career of Rob Fatal (MFA 2012). His obsession with film proceeded apace, but it took him a surprisingly long time, he says, to realize that there was a person called a director -- that movies didn't just spring into existence like Athena from Zeus's head.
Inspired by Quentin Tarantino, Mel Brooks, and Robert Rodriguez, Fatal began writing screenplays at age 12. "I loved camp and sci-fi films before I even knew they were genres." At 19 he borrowed his father's camcorder and made a 30-minute film about DJs with magical turntables. "It was accidentally campy. It was accidentally bad. But it had a lot of sincerity." Much to his surprise, it did well, even getting into a couple of festivals.
Film Maker, Filmmaker, or Artist?
Fast forward a few years. Fatal was still working in film and experimenting with video art, but not quite to the point of considering himself a filmmaker, and certainly not an "artist," whatever that meant. But one day, in the midst of editing a video documenting an experimental opera by Fatal's collaborator/mentor Juliana Snapper, he recomposed portions of the footage into a new composition and showed it to CCA faculty member Cheryl Dunye. Dunye delivered the unexpected news that what he was doing was art, and urged him to apply to CCA's MFA program. The faculty there, she said, were pushing the boundaries of genres, and dealing with gender politics and racial identity -- fields of study Fatal had been researching for years in his graduate program at Sacramento State University. CCA presented Fatal with a place to finally bridge his dual love of film theory and practice.