Photos by Andrea Six
Derek Carter returned to Savannah this week to take part in the Distribution Revolution Panel and SCAD Alumni Panel during the Savannah Film Festival.
Before coming to SCAD, Carter went to the University of Georgia and received a degree in broadcast journalism. He lived with his parents for a year, making a short film about a suicide bomber, which he and a friend were detained for because of their filming of it in the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
“I’m still on file, I think,” Carter said.
He used that film to get a scholarship to SCAD to study film and television. After receiving his master’s degree in 2009, Carter took an internship as an administrative assistant in the international sales and business affairs department at Focus Features.
“I ended up wanting to go back into theaters,” Carter said.
It was where he started, after all. His very first job was in a theater when he was 16 years old and now he wanted to go back. So he got a job as an assistant manager at Clearview Cinemas’s Chelsea theater. He worked as an assistant manager at Bow Tie Cinemas’ Chelsea theater and then became the general manager of their Manhasset theater.
And in the spring of 2014, Carter got his job as the general manager at the Angelika Film Center, the movie theater chain known for their unique selection of independent and foreign films.
“We’re in the top market in the world, in New York City,” Carter said.
He said a lot of kids end up working as theater managers, not necessarily by choice, but that this was his choice – he enjoyed going over the numbers to see how many people went to see a film over the weekend and how much it grossed.
“I’m a geek for the film business,” he said.
He likes sneaking in the back of the theater to see how audiences react to films and likes the intimacy that, he said, the Angelika has and other, larger companies lack. And he believes he has SCAD to thank because the knowledge and understanding he has of the production and industry that others don’t.
“SCAD prepares you more than NYU for a lot less money,” said Carter. “It’s essential to be artistic and creative, but also to be collaborative.”
And that’s what he said was the most valuable lesson he learned at SCAD: learning how to collaborate. It taught him that he didn’t have to settle for a pre-established role, but that he could make his own field and his own job. And though he wishes SCAD offered entertainment and film business classes, the classes he did take helped mold and better him.
“I wasn’t a leader coming to SCAD, but, I think, I was one going away,” he explained.