Filmmaker, videographer looking for next challenge

One of the first films Mike Barcia saw as a child was George Lucas’ space fantasy "Star Wars" and the subsequent sequels. “I was enthralled by the visual spectacle and the mythic storytelling,” he says. “From that point on, I was hooked on cinema.”

Barcia is graduating with a master's degree in American Media and Popular Culture from the ASU Film and Media Studies Department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The journey toward his master’s began as a 14-year-old, with his first job in a local video store. Although he was paid to clean shelves and run the register, he also had access to their entire video library. “I made it my goal to see every film in the store,” he says. “My current film/TV series count is over 3,000 and climbing.”

After high school graduation, he received an associate degree from the Scottsdale Community College’s film program and headed for a bachelor’s degree at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

In 2006, he began a career as a videographer at Channel 99, in Mesa. “I had the opportunity to hone my production skills and work in a rapidly-paced production environment, but I was also given the chance to experiment and learn various aspects of digital production,” he says.

Soon, he felt the need for further professional growth and a new challenge. "I wanted to synthesize the concepts and knowledge from an advanced degree and then apply it to the films and content that I wish to create.”

In a rapidly evolving world, he says, “the worst thing we can do is become stagnant.”

The first challenge to obtaining a graduate degree was finding a program that would accommodate his 45- to 50-hour work-week schedule. He chose the flexibility of the Film and Media Studies online degree program because he could not only choose his own hours, but also be physically near the university and have personal contact with his professors.

"The FMS program also has top-notch professors, who have an incredible understanding of the subject matter and are passionate about their field of study," he says. "They are eager and welcoming to 'young upstarts' like me.

“This degree program allowed me to study film, television, screenwriting and new media as convergent phenomenon,” he adds. "The practical aspect of my degree focused heavily on feature film screenwriting. During the course of my program, I wrote three feature screenplays (within one year) and two short films, as well.”

Barcia says he believes the research aspect of film and media is also important and relevant to modern culture. “As technology grows and adapts, these messages and textual artifacts are being consumed at an incredible rate, and by world-wide audiences. Film and media should be researched, deconstructed and critiqued/criticized by scholars and research students.”

Barcia lives by a creed: “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.” His favorite organizational tool is his Google calendar.

“All of my assignments, important dates, reminders – everything is programed into my calendar and I check it multiple times a day,” he says. “If you know what your day looks like, you can plan out your week, month, semester and year(s), very efficiently.”

Yet two unforeseen life events created another challenge. He accepted a job at a new organization that necessitated a 40-mile relocation in residence.

“Life happens,” he says philosophically. “Friends and family miss you and you miss your free time, but sacrifice is a good thing because it teaches you self-discipline and value, which are two valuable traits when you need to focus your efforts toward a goal.

“One of the goals that I had set for myself when I started this program was to increase my proficiency as a screenwriter,” he says. He cites Christopher Bradley, a professor, actor and screenwriter, as one of his most influential professors at ASU.

Barcia’s interests, perhaps partially due to his childhood fascination with "Star Wars," extend far and wide. “I am incredibly fascinated by science, the complexity of the universe (multiverse) and quantum mechanics,” he says.

He has also explored string theory, advanced geometry, physics and astrophysics, as well as artificial intelligence and emerging technology related to “big data” and genomic manipulation/advancement.

With an ever-expanding vista before him, Barcia plans on pursuing a career in the film/media industry as a writer and producer.

“I have a few speculative screenplays that I am going to write after I graduate, and will use them in conjunction with a short film that I am writing/producing/directing/editing, to seek representation with an agency.”