CMI Melinda Lujan | MFA in Screenwriting | DFM '14 | New Mexico State University - BE BOLD. Shape the Future.
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Melinda Lujan | MFA in Screenwriting | DFM '14


When did you graduate from CMI?

I attended 2012-December 2014

What was your area of emphasis at CMI?

DFM. I really didn’t have a focus. I just went in there and tried everything.

Where are you and what are you doing now?

I’m still in Las Cruces. Right now I’ve just graduated with my master’s in film from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and I’m working on developing a TV show, which is an anthology series based on the immigration situation. Since graduation, I’ve decided to focus on writing.

What do you like most about what you’re doing?

I finally figured out that this is something I can use as a tool to be a voice for people who can’t speak for themselves. It’s not so much about entertainment anymore; it’s about using my voice and my creativity. Being able to tell stories and give examples to inspire and educate people has been the most important for me.

What are some projects/jobs that you’ve worked on since graduating?

Producing Hafid Abdelmoula’s Broken Gaiete and The Wall in the Garden. Me and some other former CMI students have been filming things, trying new things. The last few years at VCFA, I’ve really gotten into writing. I’ve learned how to put things together a lot better than I did before. Now I’m working on my television series. I’ve gotten to work with so many great advisors: Nina Davenport, Annie Howl, and Luis Guzmán.


Lujan with advisor Luis Guzmán

What classes and learning experiences at CMI were the most valuable in building towards your current job?

My screenwriting classes with Amy Lanasa. She had a great way of making her point and telling you what changes you needed to make. She wasn’t afraid to be bold about it. I trusted Amy because she knew how to tell you your script was not-so-great. She was very direct, and from that I learned to take constructive criticism.

My senior thesis film Chloe had a lot to do with mental illness, relationships, and getting caught up in someone else’s issues while trying to still make your own life. That’s one of the moments I decided that that’s what I want to use my voice for. Inspiring people and educating people.

What are you doing when you aren’t working?

Writing. Reading. Watching films. Just trying to learn. I’m one of those people who likes to soak things in so I can use them in my writing. I try to learn a lot about everything. I’m an indoor girl like that.

What’s some advice you would give a CMI student (or maybe potential CMI student) about their time at CMI?

Keep your mind open, because you might go in wanting one thing but finding out your heart is in some other area of filmmaking. Don’t go in thinking “Oh, I’m just gonna produce and just learn about producing, and that’s all I need to know.” Learn every aspect of it so you can figure out what you want to do.

What’s next for you?

I’m trying to get my show produced. I’ve had a lot of really good feedback from my advisors at VCFA. I’m really hoping to start pitching my anthology series, Amado. I have really high hopes for it. If I say so myself, it’s really good. It’s from the children’s perspective of being brought to the border, separated from their parents, not knowing what’s going on. It’s just a really awful situation. I was writing an episode the other day, picturing my nieces in those characters, and I’m sitting there typing just bawling my eyes out. They’re alone in this cage! It’s very emotional. I’m hoping it gets picked up so I can make a lot of other people cry too.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

Keep pushing. In my situation, I was much older when I went in, and I knew absolutely nothing. Even though I’m not where I thought I’d be in this journey, it’s still been a growing experience. Learn all you can about everything you can, because it’s just going to serve to make your work better. Social issues, political issues, a dog walking across the street. Everything is important, no matter big or small.

Since starting this journey, I’ve learned so much about myself. I’m a totally different person. I used to be very quiet, very shy. I’m a lot bolder and a lot braver, and I feel more comfortable jumping in to doing new things. CMI helped with this. I got thrown into a lot of things I didn’t know a lot about. It started there and now it’s culminating. I’m on the right path, and my advisors and everyone helping develop my show are really excited. Personal growth has been the biggest thing.