Paving a new path on the Liberal Arts course

Senior Madi McIntyre’s journey to the Cleveland International Film Festival


From writing her first script her freshman year at DePauw to now, senior Madison McIntyre produced her first non-student short film and screened it at this year’s Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) over DePauw’s spring break.

Alongside her director, McIntyre promoted her LGBT drama, “Grace and Betty” (2017), met with other filmmakers, and promoted her own production company “Fish Out of Water Productions” at CIFF.  

McIntyre produced “Grace and Betty” a year ago in the spring of 2016 while she was working in Chicago for her semester-long Media Fellows internship. McIntyre describes herself as an untraditional DePauw student: she came into her freshmen year wanting to work in print media, and ended up pursuing a film production path. However, McIntyre’s creative writing courses, rather than film studies, started her on the path of storytelling.

“[Professor Tom] Chiarella was the first person to ever embrace my writing,” McIntyre said. “I ended up writing a 90-page script my freshman year. I sat in my dorm one weekend and it came to me,” McIntyre said. “So, that is when I fell in love with storytelling, kind of untraditionally, and he was very instrumental to that.”

After creating her own major sophomore year, “Film and Digital Media Production & Criticism,” McIntyre fused communication, film studies, and English writing in her studies both on and off-campus. While on campus, McIntyre gained interest in digital media at D3TV where she put DePauw’s television station on the digital map, creating their first website during her sophomore year.

Although she gained hands-on skills at D3TV, she didn’t find her passion for filmmaking until weeks before the end of her sophomore year where she found “King Rat” (2017). The film is an upcoming feature length drama directed by DePauw alumni Henry Johnston ‘14 that was produced on DePauw’s campus during the spring of 2015.

“I had two weeks before I was leaving for George Washington University to study public policy, and I worked on an independent feature film set on campus and fell in love,” McIntyre said. “So, I cancelled my summer at George Washington and moved to Chicago the next week to continue working with the production company on “King Rat.””

During that summer she took a film course at Chicago’s DePaul University while working with film students from both DePaul and Columbia College. “I became amazed with it [film],” McIntyre said. “I knew I wanted to learn network and narrative film.”

Leading up to her junior year Media Fellows internship in Chicago, she worked at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, the largest American independent film festival, helping production companies during the event.

After Sundance, she moved to Chicago where she worked for an independent production company, Runaway Train, as a project manager and was a production assistant for major TV networks 21st Century Fox and Showtime.

At Runaway Train, McIntyre developed her passion for producing. Although a producer can mean many things in the industry, McIntyre describes being a producer as the person who compiles all the pieces into a cohesive work.

“You are the person that pulls everything together,” McIntyre said. “You are looking at casting, finding the right people, creating budgets, asking people to support your film...and then, being on set and having the magic happen.”

After her Media Fellows internship, McIntyre flew to France where she worked with Lionsgate, a hollywood movie studio, as their international marketing/sales intern at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Cannes is one of the largest international film festivals, showcasing both European and Hollywood films. At the festival, McIntyre worked with the movie studio on their upcoming, now released, films “La La Land” (2016) and “Nerve” (2016).

“I got to work on ‘La La Land’ and ‘Nerve’ before anyone knew about those films,” McIntyre said. “I was in the office when the producers first talked about ‘La La Land,’ and then Ryan Gosling walked in the door.”

Although McIntyre stood alongside many big Hollywood names like Woody Allen and Blake Lively at Cannes, she learned the most about film during the festival. “My experience at Cannes did not feel like real life...but it was the most I’ve ever learned in two weeks,” McIntyre said. “It was amazing practicing film in a different country for the first time.”

After Cannes, McIntyre came back to the U.S. to work for a number of film production offices in New York the summer prior to her study abroad experience at Queen Mary University in London.  

While at Queen Mary, she studied film theory, virtual reality, and digital storytelling from a European perspective. “It was an amazing opportunity to study film outside of the Hollywood context, which is what I really appreciated during my time in London,” McIntyre said.

Following her study abroad experience in London and attendance at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, McIntyre settled back into Greencastle one last time before the end of her DePauw career.

While enjoying her final semester at DePauw, McIntyre has developed her production company, and is currently the producer for her senior thesis documentary exposé on the intersection of mental health and the criminal justice system in Indiana. As a 22-year-old producer, McIntyre has loved being able to be a bridge between young filmmakers and the professional film world.

“It’s definitely an empowering voice to the next generation of filmmakers, to be someone in-between here and the real world,” McIntyre said. “I think a lot of young people have incredible stories and the reason I was attracted to being a producer was to be able to tell those stories.”  

McIntyre says she hopes more students will be willing to take the untraditional path that DePauw allowed her to create. “I’m hoping to have a voice for people who are a little more untraditional,” McIntyre said. “If you want to make something, you don’t need a fancy production company and a million just need the time and passion.”

Although McIntyre herself did not take a production class on-campus, she believes the new film production courses are crucial to the innovation of DePauw students’ storytelling. “I would love to see DePauw embrace how many film students we have and innovating more on campus,” McIntyre said. “Asking what the next stories are going to be and who will tell them.”

McIntyre’s “Grace and Betty” is nominated for the Shorts Jury Awards, which is based off of audience appeal, at CIFF and will be announced April 9.