UCLA Extension

Instructor Interview – Joel Austin Higgins

Meet new Entertainment Studies instructor Joel Austin Higgins! Joel will be teaching Adobe After Effects for Filmmakers: An Introductory Workshop online this fall. He is an editor specializing in the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite who has executed After Effects projects for clients including D.A.R.E. International, Mercedes-Benz, Hasbro, and a myriad of YouTube creators and online enterprises. He is also a writer, actor, and filmmaker.

We sat down with Joel and asked him 5 questions to get to know more about him and his course.

What about teaching for Entertainment Studies are you most looking forward to?
I’m very excited to learn about the students’ filmmaking sensibilities. We’ll be developing very technical skills, but there is plenty of room in my class for creativity as well. So to that end, I’m also very much looking forward to seeing what kinds of creative projects the students create.

What do you hope students get out of your course?
I would love to see students go from somewhat daunted at learning massive, new technologies to absolutely enchanted with the possibilities these platforms afford. By the end of my course, I really want to see students’ eyes light up when we talk about technical minutia because not only do they understand it, but they have a real sense of what they can do with it going forward.

What is one thing you want students to know before they begin your class?
It’s going to be OK. I say that somewhat comedically, but I also mean it. The skills we’ll be learning may seem gigantic from the outside, but I really want students to trust that we’re going to walk through things step-by-step and, as long as they follow along, they will have no problems gaining the skills they seek.

What are you watching or listening to these days that you are enjoying?
Oh wow, that’s a tough one. I just finished “The Boys” on Prime and adored it. I’ve been over the whole superhero thing for a while, so it was nice to see the filmmakers treat it a little more seriously. I’m also pretty obsessed with Gaspar Noe, Ari Aster, and Panos Cosmatos at the moment. And I’m listening to the new Tool album for probably the third time. I don’t think I understand it, but I’m also not totally sure I don’t understand it…

What’s the best piece of advice you would give to someone aspiring to break into your field?
The great thing about filmmaking is that nowadays anyone can do it. The terrible thing about filmmaking is that nowadays anyone can do it. What I mean is, there is currently very little resistance between the aspiring filmmaker and actually producing a film. With enough gumption and compromise, you can totally make a film you’re proud of and you can do it with way less sweat and financial equity than you could say thirty years ago. The challenge that presents though is that the markets are way saturated. So, my advice would be to get out there and start making things, but challenge yourself to create at exactly the level of your capabilities. These days, only the best indie films are rising to the top and the only way to get into that group is to be religiously devoted to your perspective and filmmaking vision.