At a Glance
Major(s): Liberal Arts
Minor(s): Film Studies
Why UML? “UMass Lowell was affordable and ... I can do all the same things that students at a film school do.”
When Jake Abramowitz was applying to colleges, he knew what he wanted to do: write and direct movies.
He chose UMass Lowell for its affordability and because he could craft his own major through the Bachelor of Liberal Arts (B.L.A.) program, combining concentrations in digital media and theatre arts with a minor in film studies.
Now, when Abramowitz visits his boyfriend in New York City and socializes with students there who brag that they’re going to “real” film schools, he tells them he’s getting the same education at less than half the price, thanks to lower tuition and a generous financial aid package.
“UMass Lowell was affordable and made sense to me, and I thought, ‘If I just put the effort in and utilize the time of the professors who are being offered to me, I can do all the same things that students at a film school do.’”
Now Abramowitz is the one with bragging rights: He bested students from several top film programs in a pitch contest at the Massachusetts Production Coalition’s 2022 Student Media Summit.
After pitching his senior capstone project, a short film about a trio of “mill girls” in Lowell in the 1830s, and answering tough questions from the judges about his progress and plans, he walked away with the top prize: a check for $1,000 and a $500 voucher from Talamas, a film equipment sales and rental firm, which he used to rent equipment.
“I was super-excited,” he says.
Abramowitz immediately called Asst. Teaching Prof. Dan Frank to share the good news. Frank, an award-winning television and film director and producer who teaches many of the core classes in the Digital Media program, had encouraged Abramowitz to go to the Student Media Summit, held at Middlesex Community College. It included a career panel, a networking lunch and the pitch contest.
“I really could not do (this film) without Dan, because every time I turn something into him, he’s giving me notes and feedback to make it as professional as possible,” Abramowitz says.
The classes Abramowitz has taken in the Digital Media Program include screenwriting, lighting, sound, video production and editing.
“Digital media gives me practical skills I can use on a set and put on job applications, while the film studies minor is the theory element, how the story is crafted and the art of it,” he says. “In theatre arts, I’ve taken courses in directing, acting, set design, costume design and lighting design. They’re different in film and theater, but they share a lot of things as well.”
For experience, Abramowitz has acted, crewed and done hair and makeup for shows by the Off Broadway Players, a student organization. He has helped to livestream Commencement and basketball and hockey games at UML’s Tsongas Center. He’s also gotten jobs making videos for clients in Lowell. And he always has several projects of his own in progress.
After graduation, he plans to move to New York City and tap his network for short-term crew jobs, then work his way up to ultimately become a director. He’s got more confidence now after winning the pitch contest – and thanks to his mentor, Frank.
“I’m so grateful to UMass Lowell,” he says. “Anyone can do this; it just takes a lot of time and energy.”