Zachary Keifer

Class of 2007

Current Position: Co-owner of Folk Hero Films
Major: Russian Studies and Film Studies
Current Location: Charlottesville, VA

I had an interest in filmmaking right out of high school, but didn’t really consider it to be a viable career option. Pursuing a liberal arts education seemed like a good way to go because I didn’t want to take a very specific track. I knew I had a deep interest in learning a new language and culture, so William & Mary was a natural fit for me. The university has a great language program and an excellent track record for the type of education it delivers.

My liberal arts education provided me with the advantage of taking different cultural classes. By double majoring in Russian studies and film studies, I was able to keep my focus and interest in filmmaking without the expectation that I would pursue it as a career. I began to view film as a way to learn about other cultures, which led me to approach it from a different perspective. Instead of setting out to just make films or learn the technical side of filmmaking, I began to approach it more from the standpoint of what it means to a country or a culture of people. Even though I don’t use much Russian now, having that global knowledge of film and using those experiences to help frame the way I think about filmmaking has helped me a lot in my career.

The environment at William & Mary is very motivating and the students are driven to better themselves. As a student, I got involved in campus organizations and ended up starting my own film club. I was driven to be independent and develop my own approach to things. This resulted in me becoming a very self-motivated person, which has been beneficial in the career path I have been on since graduating. I was a student when the Reeder Media Center opened and the time I spent working there was almost as precious as my time spent in the classroom. You don’t always have access to those kinds of resources at a liberal arts institution, but William & Mary has done a lot to ensure its students have access to the resources they need.

A liberal arts education is great for figuring out exactly what you want to do and helps lay the groundwork for what you eventually will do. William & Mary afforded me the opportunity to become an entrepreneur without going the business school route. The tools you develop while receiving a top-notch education at William & Mary can easily be applied to a variety of fields.