Megan Ruffe ’13 Earth and Mineral Sciences and the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, is a documentary filmmaker based in Brooklyn, New York, where she is a co-producer at Florentine Films, Ken Burns’s documentary company. She has worked on numerous projects that have been featured from the New York Times to PBS to Netflix. She earned her degrees in Geography with Honors and Film. Megan shares her insights on being a “multipassionate” student and how being a Scholar allowed her to combine passions and gain experiences in filmmaking. She also shares a lot of behind-the-scenes insight on how films are made that any Scholar who enjoys movies and TV can appreciate. You can read Megan’s bio and a more detailed breakdown of the episode topics below.
Megan Ruffe ’13 EMS, Com is a documentary filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. She co-producer at Florentine Films, Ken Burns’s documentary company. She has worked on several major series for PBS, including The Vietnam War (2017), College Behind Bars (2019), Hemingway (2021), and Benjamin Franklin (2022). She is currently working on a forthcoming series on the American Revolution. Megan has also been working with a small team to develop UNUM, a new digital project that uses Florentine’s library of work to bring historical context to current events. She also independently directs and produces short documentaries. Megan graduated summa cum laude from Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences earning a BS in Geography with Honors and the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications earning a BA in film. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and on CBS Sunday Morning.
In this episode, Megan shares her insights on:
· Choosing the Honors College as a “multipassionate” student
· Working with academic advisers to find the best major for you
· Insight on the geography major
· Seeking out practical experience on campus and in State College
· Thoughts on the Semester at Sea at program
· Thesis thoughts: learning project management while not over-pressuring yourself
· Interning aftergraduation and leveraging that into a fulltime role
· A crash course on the different roles in documentary filmmaking and serving in those different roles
· Making creative and narrative choices in the storytelling process
· The importance of editing in filmmaking and building your own style
· How to get your foot in the door in filmmaking
· The content equation and making the most of your content
· Skills Scholars should develop if they want to pursue careers in filmmaking or similar & resources available to Scholars to help you build them
· Pursuing careers in filmmaking without moving to Los Angeles and Southern California
· Designing films and mini-series for long-form television & streaming
· Advice for hobbyists, small business owners, and personal record keeping
· Learning from mentors and distinguishing hindsight from living the journey
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Credits & Notes:
This content is available in text form here.
This show is hosted, produced, and edited by Sean Goheen ‘11 Lib (Schreyer).
The artwork was created by Tom Harrington, the College’s Web Developer.
The sound effect is “Chinese Gong,” accessed via SoundBible used under Creative Commons License.
The theme music is “Conquest” by Geovane Bruno, accessed via Pixabay and used under Creative Commons License.