Three Similarities Between Film-making and the MSA Program

It sounds odd, but someone who used to make short films and loves fiction and art now wants to be a data scientist. I used to think this was a strange idea until I realized I could combine both interests. Even though I studied communications and focused on entertainment and art, I have always had an interest in exploring the technical side of things. I like working with numbers and coding because I see them as another way to tell stories. 

When I found this program, I saw that I could make a change without losing who I am as a professional. My job as an audiovisual producer was a good balance between soft and technical skills. I needed to know how to manage people and have technical knowledge of what is occurring to be able to make important decisions during filming. What’s cool is that I noticed the Institute’s MSA program has a lot in common with filmmaking. It might seem weird to compare a data science program with making movies, but they’re alike, especially in these three ways: Teamwork, Intensity, and Trusting the Process.


In making movies, everyone works together like a well-timed machine. Each team member from the photography, art, direction, and production teams does their best work for the project. Even though our micro-goals as teams are different, we work on the same major goal, which is to finish the film in the assigned schedule. To fulfill that goal, we interact with each other, and every team gives their perspective on how to solve any kind of problem;

the conversations are enriched by the diversity of views. 

The analytics program works in the same way. Being in a group with people from different backgrounds gives a broad perspective of how to solve problems, open your mind, and help the team’s creativity. You always learn something from your teammates. Having a diverse team is a strength, and this program does an amazing job of choosing talented people who are great to work with.


Intensity is something that moviemaking and this program have in common. Moviemaking is intense. It involves a tight schedule, and each step has specific goals to finish the project. Anything can happen on a film-making day, and you must be able to manage all the possible scenarios. You must be very organized and prepared for the unexpected. It’s like living in a rush of excitement.

The analytics program is also intense. It’s like a two-year program squeezed into ten months. Because of that, we have a busy schedule and must be good at time management. This intensity makes the program exciting, and each class helps us get ready. Both filmmaking and the MSA require getting into the rhythm and finding a sweet spot between all the events/ classes/ homework that are happening at the same time. As past graduates say, we should trust the process, and things will work out. 

Trust the Process 

In moviemaking, all the other teams trust the production team to make the project successful. Our job is to create a great environment, so the project teams can do their best.  The production team provides a safety net that all the teams need to be able to perform at their best. We want all teams to succeed in their work because if they succeed, the project will be completed more efficiently. The MSA program is similar. When professors and alumni talk about “Trust the Process,” they mean everyone involved is committed to helping us succeed. This shows that each step in the program is planned so we can learn and do well in our careers.

In my opinion, moviemaking is about working toward a goal – to finish the project in the best way possible as a team where each person matters. Every choice in moviemaking is for the good of the team and the project. The same concept is displayed in the MSA program, the idea that everyone wants us to succeed. The professors and staff members treat us with care and commitment.

In essence, my decision to join this program was driven by the recognition and excellent reputation of the program and also by the family essence that this program has regarding my work and my background. The worlds of film and data science share fundamental principles of teamwork, intensity, and trust in the process. Both realms encourage people to harness their diverse talents and work collectively toward a common goal, whether creating a cinematic masterpiece or mastering the art of data science. This unique blend of my passions and professional aspirations drove me to choose this great program, and it has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life so far.

Columnist Marco Arellano