Barbara Ishida

Barbara IshidaThird Year
Dramatic Writing Option

What medium do you prefer to work in? Being a writer, I feel like I have the freedom to work in all three.

Favorite TV show? Breaking Bad.

Favorite film/documentary? Drive, All About Lily Chou Chou, Burn After Reading, Babel, The Royal Tenenbaums, Young@Heart (documentary), just to name a few.

Favorite play? Allegiance, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Les Misérables, No Exit, just to name a few.

Why did you choose Cal State L.A.’s MFA program in Television, Film and Theatre? For the affordability as well as the diversity within the writing program. As a writer, I want to know how to be a good storyteller in any medium.

What were you doing before you enrolled in the program? I was, and still continue to be a video editor for TV and web content. The decision to go back to school was because I really wanted to increase my skill set so that I can have more flexibility with my career and future, possibly even teach. I’ve always been a storyteller, that’s the part about editing that I enjoy, so enrolling in a writing program seemed natural.

Do you have film/TV industry experience or are you currently working in the industry? I’ve worked in post-production for 10 years. I’ve edited for VH1, Travel Channel, msn.com, The Hub, and FoodNetwork among others. Editing has always treated me kindly, and I love having a profession that’s creative and collaborative.

What are you passionate about? My true passion has always been in storytelling—it just took me a long time to realize it. I don’t like to call myself a writer, because storytelling is so much more than that, and really captures my interest and career throughout the years. Whether it’s making short documentaries, writing a web series, or editing reality TV, telling authentic stories is what I strive for in the projects I create.

What themes are important to you in your work? Imperfection. Air brushing and happy endings have their place in life, but what interests me are the moments when people let their true selves shine and admit we’re all just “making it up” as we go. I like when lead characters don’t know all the answers.

What projects/people in the film industry inspire you? As an artist I try to gain inspiration from different places—I’ve always been that way. So, a painting or a photograph can inspire a whole script, the same way watching a film can, or even having dinner with my brother. The filmmakers that motivate me to find my authentic voice are filmmakers like: Wes Anderson, the Coen Brothers, Charlie Kaufman, Sofia Coppola, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Gaspar Noé, Gus Van Sant, Pedro Almodóvar, and Quentin Tarantino to name a few.

What’s the most fascinating thing you have learned in the MFA program recently? Coming from a non-academic career, I am fascinated how schools as institutions currently operate. For example, I’m getting my MFA not only to grow as a writer, but so that I can teach film classes one day. I recently learned that a lot of baby boomers are waiting longer to retire so that means that there will be a scarcity of full-time job openings in higher education for another 5 to 10 years.

What are your plans for after graduation? I’m going to Disneyland (is that joke too old?)!! To be honest, I have no plans for after graduation right now. Currently, I’m trying to secure a good writing internship, and work on my thesis. Once those are completed, I’ll see where I stand. I have a couple scripts I’d love to sell, and my dream job would be creator of a new series on HBO, Netflix, or Showtime.