Freshman filmmaker explores reel life at ASU

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Editor's note: This is part of a series of profiles of fall 2017 incoming ASU students.

Arizona State University freshman Ashley Sorensen believes film, theater and television — if done correctly — have the potential to entertain the masses while addressing important social issues.

“I believe today’s audiences are receptive to hearing a message if it's entertaining and keeps their attention,” said Sorensen, a National Honors Society member who recently graduated from Chandler’s Basha High School. “If you can keep someone’s attention for two hours, you have the potential to change a lot of hearts and minds.”

Sorensen will spend the next four years at ASU’s School of Film, Dance and TheatreA unit within the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. in the film program trying to perfect her “two hours.” She’s already off to a pretty good start.

The 18-year-old has shot three short films tackling subjects such as self-esteem, depression, anxiety and mental illness. Sorensen also directed two classics for the stage and has racked up several film certifications and awards. In April she won a Max A. and Clara E. Springer Scholarship for $5,000, an academic competition for first-time freshmen graduating from an Arizona high school who plan to major in the arts.

Sorensen recently wrapped her first week at ASU and believes this saga will have a happy ending.

Question: Why did you chose ASU?

Answer: I chose ASU because it was the one film program that cared about its students building a portfolio. That and knowing how much that department has grown in the last few years guided me here.

Q: What drew you to your major?

A: When I was 8 years old, “Corpse Bride” was on, and that’s when I really got into director Tim Burton. He sparked my interest in filmmaking because he showed me that you can have a completely different style of art and it can be amazing.

Q: What are you most excited about to experience in your first semester?

A: Being able to see who I’m going to be working with and see what creative ideas they have so we can possibly collaborate.

Q: What do you like to brag about to friends about ASU?

A: The Arcadia Residential Community is a very welcoming community and basically a big family. I got here less than a week ago and I’ve already made a ton of friends. I didn’t think I could get that experience anywhere else.

Q: What talents and skills are you bringing to the ASU community?

A: I’m experienced in backstage theater, and I think I’m going to bring some new and creative things to film.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show right now?

A: I’d have to say “The Office.” I love its satirical humor.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your college years?

A: I hope to gain more experience on how to direct and be a better cinematographer because those are the fields I’m looking into. I’m hoping to ultimately get into the movie industry in Los Angeles.

Q: What’s one interesting fact about yourself that only your friends know?

A: I can mimic a bird; I can do a bird whistle.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem in our world, what would you choose?

A: I would love to get together with National Geographic with that kind of money and spread information about how climate change has affected the world. The message would be, “This is the world we live in, and we need to take better care of it. Otherwise, we’re not going to have a place to live.” Another thing I’m interested in is to educate people about the LGBT community and Black Lives Matter. I have a lot friends who are affected, and it breaks my heart.

Q: Predictions on the final score for this year’s Territorial Cup game?

A: I have no idea what the final score would be, but I know ASU would kick some Wildcat butt!

Top photo: Filmmaking freshman Ashley Sorensen of Chandler has a goal of working as either a director or cinematographer. She poses in the movie theater at Sun Studios of Arizona on Tuesday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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