Alum Zach Shedd talks to students about his work, gives advice

Zach Shedd speaks to Urban students about his life as an artist.

Kris Bailey, Director of Communications

Zach Shedd speaks to Urban students about his life as an artist.

With a grey cardigan and brown oxfords, Urban alum Zach Shedd (’03) could have easily passed for an Urban teacher. On October 3, he came to talk to students during E5 and lunch. Even though he offered a disclaimer, saying, “I’m fairly young … I feel stupid about giving advice,” Shedd offered insight into his process as an artist. Students from all grades were interested in hearing about his academic and creative experiences at Urban and beyond.

Shedd attended the New York University Tisch School of the Arts and graduated in 2007. He is currently a producer and director at Flies Collective, a film company he runs with two other director/producers.

Shedd played trailers for his past and upcoming films, “A Little Closer” (2011), “Hide Your Smiling Faces” (2013), and “Americana”(2015) for the students that attended. He describes his first film, “A Little Closer,” which he made just out of college, as a “simple story.” Mark Salkind, Head of School, saw the film and said that it was “cool.” Shedd’s films have made it to film festivals all over the world, from the Berlin Film Festival, to the Chicago International Film Festival, along with many others.

Shedd was greatly affected as an artist by his time at Urban. While at Urban, Shedd took part in One Acts and Jazz Band. He credits Jonathan Howland’s Creative Nonfiction English class with the inspiration for his upcoming film, “Americana”. He says that the writing that he did during that class has largely influenced his work, because the ideas he came up with in that class have manifested themselves in his work in one way or another.

He offered advice for creative students interested in pursuing art after high school and beyond. He said to “be a sponge” within Urban and San Francisco, because Urban prepared him in various ways to be an artist. The most important, he said, was “having so many outlets to write and perform.” “I took for granted … the nurturing community.” He credits “having smart and … amazing students” around, and “friends that wanted to help me make stuff” for his creative success in high school.

Shedd said that he regrets not having done “more” in high school. He told the audience to “make a ton of stuff so that when you get out of school you can show people” what you have been able to make.

He also said, “even if (your writing) doesn’t translate into a movie, it’s still important.” He stressed the point that “you’re not a writer if you don’t write.”

Shedd encouraged artists to get feedback on their work, but warned, “don’t be mad when people don’t like it.” “Take advice (from others),” he said, “because they are watching objectively.”

He said, “be around people who you respect and like their work”, and added that “being around people who are at the top of their game” was incredibly influential for him out of college.

Shedd is shooting “Americana” right here in San Francisco in two weeks. Working on set is his favorite part of the movie making process, and his excitement was apparent, saying “I get an absurd rush from being on set,” he said. He added, “I don’t really like … the writing process, I like when the writing is done”.

According to Shedd, “Americana” will be done in August of 2015. Until then, watching his previous films can satiate interested viewers: “A Little Closer” and “Hide Your Smiling Faces” are both available for rent or purchase on iTunes.