ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Erik Anderson (MFA, Broadcast Cinema ’12)

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Erik Anderson June 9, 2015

Erik Anderson (MFA, Broadcast Cinema ’12) is a filmmaker and instructor. He thoroughly enjoys telling stories that are filled with as much heart as visually arresting imagery. Erik is currently working as a commercial director with clients such as Ford and Cannon. While a graduate student at Art Center, he worked closely with the Designmatters department and directed the award winning short film, HANDS IN THE MIST. The  documentary film centered on social innovation and its impact upon the lives of the disadvantaged.

Influencing Change Through Storytelling

Stories have the power to influence change. Belief in this motto led to my pursuing a graduate degree in filmmaking at Art Center College of Design. What I didn’t realize was that this “pursuit” transformed into something akin to a journey. Originally, my energies centered on stylized commercials. I’d directed speculative commercials for Pepsi, Smart Car and a host of others. And while fun, they didn’t feel particularly fulfilling.

Twenty speculative commercials and three short films later, I found myself nearing graduation. And like most graduating students, I was anxious, incredibly anxious. Then came an opportunity to work with Designmatters on a film project that was intended to document and tell the story of a small handful of students co-creating with families in Lima, Peru.

The best part about this adventure was that I got out of my comfort zone. I was no longer in the hills of opulent Pasadena, but in the dirt, tackling the elements in the slums of Lima. I felt like a kid again, but this time I had a camera, not a bicycle. I found myself working hand in hand with local families and fellow students. And together, a multitude of products were developed to better enhance the lives of those less fortunate through the process of social innovation.

Upon returning home, I found my attitude had changed and I’d like to believe it’s reflected in my work as a filmmaker. Traveling the world and working with people both behind and in front of the camera, brought forth a fresh perspective that has enabled me to grow and mature. I can only hope for those who are struggling to find “that something” in themselves, perhaps can take a similar leap into the deep end in order to find that missing something.

Erik Anderson

Over the years, I’ve made it a point to keep in touch with a great many of the students I met at Art Center and have had the added pleasure of continuing to work with some from different disciplines. One being recent Product Design graduate, Mariana Prieto. She was kind enough to bring me onto her design team and together we traveled all over the world on behalf of creative consultancy IDEO.ORG.

And not unlike what I’d done in Peru with Designmatters, I once again found myself telling stories about people who simply want an opportunity to better their lives and those of future generations. Relationships such as that continue to astound me. And while we operate in different disciplines, there’s that common thread of creativity that seems to bond us.

Designmatters took a gamble on me as a filmmaker. Up to the point, I’d simply done nothing that I believe would have led the Designmatters Department to believe in my ability to make an emotionally impactful film. I still to this day don’t know why they picked me, I’m just grateful that they did.


Did I forget to mention that our film was nominated for Young Director Award In Cannes, France?

For more information about Erik’s work, visit:

Follow him here —-> @andersonerik