The Visionary Filmmaker
Blake Rozelle ’20 has worn many hats: DJ and President of WPAW, YouTuber, PaceDocs filmmaker, small business owner, and much more. What got him started? Making videos with his grandmother.
Blake Rozelle ’20 has always had an artist’s eye for detail. He first fell in love with filmmaking when he was still in middle school thanks to his grandmother. “We made a lot of fun videos together, and it was like a side activity,” he told us. It’s when Rozelle got to high school that he started getting serious about filmmaking. “Teachers began to compliment my work, and I started going to film summer camps. I learned more with experience, and starting doing my own side projects and movies.”
Now, Rozelle has his own YouTube account filled with videos like a behind-the-scenes look into what it’s like on the set of his many projects. (Spoilers: it takes a lot of work and patience.) He’s also the president of WPAW, PLV’s official radio station, an assistant in Pace’s Media Lab, and owner of BR Productions, a self-run business offering Rozelle’s filmmaking skills for a variety of events.
“I like the process of watching an idea turn into production, which eventually turns into a final product,” he said. “Film allows any story to [come] true. I like that it is a combination of the arts and technology, which have always been my favorite fields.”
It was only natural that he would pursue a digital cinema and filmmaking degree—but how did he choose Pace? “I felt like I would get more of a personal experience coming to this school versus other ones,” Rozelle explained. “I was also impressed by the film department’s [...] space and equipment. I still think those same thoughts today; I don’t feel like just another student at a school. I really get to know my professors and peers.”
Of all the classes he took, we weren’t surprised to hear Rozelle’s favorite was the one taught by Professor Maria Luskay, EdD. It’s called “Making the Documentary,” where students get to be involved in creating an actual documentary film. They’re part of every step of the process, even getting to travel abroad. “It was the most involved class I had ever been part of,” Rozelle said, having worked on Puerto Rico: Hope in the Dark last year in the wake of Hurricane Maria. “There was a lot of dedication [necessary] to pull everything off, and it was certainly worth it.”
Although his official roles were camera/gimbal operator and assistant editor, Rozelle—and his entire class—wore many, if not all hats during production. “We literally created a story in front of our eyes,” he said, and went on to detail a particularly impactful moment while on location.
“My group and I were filming an interview, and the man we were interviewing took us on a trip. After a long drive, the man showed us a house that had completely toppled over. It was upside down, near the bottom of the mountain. That was the most impactful thing that I personally saw while there—seeing all of a person’s belongings just destroyed. We passed so many signs from people asking for help [who] hadn’t had electricity for literally six months.”
Rozelle is currently very busy as WPAW’s newly elected president, a role he’s slowly worked his way up the ranks to obtain. He started out as a general member, eventually became treasurer, and then received a promotion as DJ manager. “I really care about WPAW, and wish that more people knew about it,” he told us. “Having a radio station on campus is wonderful and should be used more. Everyone learns from the people that did the job before them. I was taught how to DJ from the original manager, and now I am here a year later teaching others how to do it.”
And he could certainly teach a whole lot of people what he knows. Rozelle also runs his own business, having taken on a variety of commissioned work over the years; from shooting a wedding to music videos to commercials to—yes, this is real—a rave. “I find that you won’t get work unless you are looking for it,” he advised. “By just reaching out, I got a few projects [booked] and planned more for the future.”
In the meantime, Rozelle is keeping up with his hobbies outside of making movies. His mother runs a dance studio, and he’s taken dance lessons since he was just two years old. Also? “I played piano, saxophone, drums, sang, acted, and did karate all for more than 10 years,” he told us. With as many new projects as he takes on, it makes sense that he’s always on the go!
What's your Pace Path? Do you or someone you know have an interesting Pace story? We want to hear from you. Send us an email!
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