Going Rogue with Chloe McClare

Chloe McClare with team members Sierra Huerta and Cassidy Aranas on set. Photo credit to McClare.

McClare is embracing the unknown of the filmmaking process in her Honors Scholar project

When fourth-year media communication major and Honor Scholar student Chloe McClare was a sixth-grader, she produced and starred in a 30-minute rendition of the Hunger Games. Her and her crew of other kids taped an iPod Touch to trees to act as a tripod to make the film come alive. 

This was just the beginning of her film endeavors. 

McClare participated in Point Loma Nazarene University’s Honors Scholar Program. The program is a year-long, in-depth research study. 

“The purpose of the Honors Program at PLNU is to prepare students for the world of

post-baccalaureate scholarship and professional life,” according to PLNU Honor Scholars Program Guidelines and Overview. 

Mark Mann, professor of Theology and director of the Honors Scholars Program, said the program’s goal is to share the gift of knowledge with the community. 

The program culminated on Saturday where the 36 students presented their projects on topics ranging from biology to literature to community members. 

McClare’s project consisted of writing, producing and editing a fantasy short film called “Bottled Love” which takes inspiration from some of McClare’s favorite films such as “Harry Potter,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Percy Jackson” and “Star Wars.” Her project research focused on editing techniques. 

“I decided on editing because I think editing is something that has encapsulated a lot of my life,” McClare said. “I’ve been editing since I was really little. I think that’s basically what brought me into film with platforms like Video Star and iMovie.”

An Honors Project is intended to be the most difficult project a student has taken on. McClare said that sentiment felt true to her, but that she welcomed it. 

“This project was not necessarily something where I wanted to feel comfortable, so I’m definitely pushing myself out of my comfort zone with this,” McClare said. 

Her interest in stretching herself is one reason her mentor, Rick Moncauskas, believes she is a good candidate for the program. 

“She’s smart,” Moncauskas said. “She is not afraid to try things. As a result, she often succeeds where other people would kind of get stuck. She’s creative in that sense.”

The stress from the project often became challenging, McClare said. 

“I think film is uniquely stressful,” McClare said. “I think that this can be in any art form, but film specifically, because a lot of the control is out of your hands. Or it’s in the hands of your team members who might have a different vision than you do… so I think putting expectations on a film… and then seeing it turn out differently can be incredibly stressful.”

The cure, she said, is to erase the expectations. 

“I try not to put expectations on the film,” McClare said. “Or I try and let it develop by itself. I allow myself to go off the shotlist sometimes. I’ll tell my crew I’m going rogue… because sometimes the film tells you to do things that you didn’t necessarily plan, and that’s okay.”

Mann, who oversees the student’s progress throughout the year, said many students encounter stress when working to complete the project. To help students cope, Mann implemented several new structures to the program. 

For example, Mann said he trains all mentors on the program’s expectations and timeline, begins the program in the spring of students’ junior year, conducts time management workshops with scholars and creates small deadlines on Canvas throughout the year. The most powerful tool he can offer to students he said is collegiality – working in mutually supportive ways with peers focused on collaboration. 

McClare said she relies on her mentors’ encouragement and her production team to make the short film come alive. 

In fact, the same way that film can be stressful – the aspect of teamwork and collaboration of ideas – is what McClare said brings her out of the stress and back into the project. 

“I love the team aspect of it,” McClare said. “I like that when you get on set you might not necessarily know what’s going to happen that day but you and your team will figure it out and you always have them to lean on.”

Rising juniors with a grade point average of 3.5 or above can apply to participate in the program next year. For students who are interested in participating, they can contact Mark Mann at markmann@pointloma.edu

Written By: Sarah Gleason