Charles Thompson Jr., 21, of Bryans Road graduated from the College of Southern Maryland with an associate degree in general studies; however Thompson neither processed in with his fellow graduates during the May 18 ceremony nor walk onstage and shake hands with college dignitaries as he received his degree.
Instead, Thompson took a position he prefers, behind the video camera, as he helped to capture the event as a member of the college’s video production team videotaping the ceremony for his fellow graduates to enjoy watching later.
Thompson dreams of working in the film industry and someday producing his own feature film. He started his film studies at CSM and it became his passion, he said.
“I took pretty much all the DMP [digital media production] classes,” he said. In addition, he worked as a student assistant for Patricia Christofaro, CSM’s executive producer and television station manager. He said that CSM provided multiple opportunities for Thompson to not only learn about film production but, even more importantly, to apply what he learned through class projects, his student assistant job and freelance work.
“I think the biggest thing I’ll remember from my time at CSM is starting the Out of Focus Film Club,” Thompson said, referring to the club he organized with his friend, CSM student Tim Gordon.
“I went all in,” he said, explaining that the club was designed to promote CSM’s DMP program. “We wanted to keep the momentum going. We had a great time, meeting a lot of great people on campus. I really got into student life. It surprised me.”
Thompson came to CSM after being a multi-sport athlete in high school — football, wrestling, track and field, and competitive weight lifting. He thought he was aiming for a sports broadcasting career at a place like ESPN. But after taking DMP1010 at CSM, he was introduced to the work that goes on behind a camera. “I just really fell in love with it,” he said. “CSM gave me the opportunity to find out if I liked the program, if I liked editing.”
For his last two semesters at CSM, Thompson worked at CSM’s television studio with Christofaro where he spent each week working at the studio, editing video and learning as much as he could. He said he enjoys finding and then teaching himself different effects he can achieve in his work. “It’s really fulfilling,” he said. “I like challenges.”
Christofaro said she appreciated Thompson’s devotion to his craft. “I loved his genuine enthusiasm for his work,” she said. “He always came in with a smile on his face, ready to do whatever I asked. I know he is going to succeed because his attitude is so wonderful and infectious. And he loves learning.”
Thompson will continue his education at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. “I definitely feel confident,” he said about joining other film students there. “So excited!”