Senior Faith Liu, shown here in the Tower Players’ production of “Mother Courage and her Children,” will pursue screenwriting at the University of Southern California  after graduation. Anders Kiledal | Collegian
Senior Faith Liu, shown here in the Tower Players’ pro­duction of “Mother Courage and her Children,” will pursue screen­writing at the Uni­versity of Southern Cal­i­fornia after grad­u­ation. Anders Kiledal | Col­legian

Senior Faith Liu walked away from her high-school pastime of film­making when she enrolled at Hillsdale in the fall of 2012. As soon as she fin­ishes her time at Hillsdale, however, she is diving back into it.

This week, Liu com­mitted to a graduate program in screen­writing at the Uni­versity of Southern California’s School of Cin­e­matic Arts, one of the most pres­ti­gious film schools in the world.  

“Ever since I was very young I’ve always been attracted to stories,” Liu said. “Film is a very dif­ferent medium in that the story can be told visually. But someone has to con­ceive of that; someone has to set up the outline from which that film is made. And scriptwriting is a huge part of that.”

Before attending Hillsdale, Liu, along with her friends Joshua Jackson and Brian Tang, did a number of film projects, ranging from parody trailers to entire short films, under the name Stop­Mo­tionClub (although, as Liu points out, “we did absolutely no stop-motion what­soever”).

“Our first project was a 35-minute long film that I wrote and pro­duced,” she said. “That was a drama about someone who was deaf, but could hear music. For others, we took popular apps on the iPhone and turned them into fake movie trailers — we had one for Temple Run that went viral in a week.”

Parted from her col­lab­o­rators upon arriving at Hillsdale, Liu focused on other things during her college years, majoring in English and par­tic­i­pating in the music and theatre depart­ments.

“People here are very busy and don’t really have time for that sort of thing, so I had to kind of put it to once side,” she said.

Her prior col­lab­o­rators, however, who in the meantime both moved to Los Angeles, never stopped pes­tering her to pick cinema up again.

“Both of them kept telling me, ‘You have to come out here, we have to do movies again out here!’” Liu said. “So I filled out an appli­cation, sent it in, and didn’t think about it after that point until I got the email.”

Paul Wolff, a USC film pro­fessor whose own screen­writing resume includes such shows as “Little House on the Prairie” and “Home Improvement,” picked up Liu’s appli­cation and liked what he saw.

“What happens is everyone on the faculty gets about 35 appli­ca­tions to read, and all of us get to choose our top 5 out of the 35,” Wolff said. “A tennis pro can watch 10-year-old kids play tennis and see who’s going to be a pro­fes­sional. It’s like that with pro­fes­sional writers — we’ve been around a long time, and we can just spot them. Reading Faith’s work, you can just see that she’s a natural-born writer.”

So after receiving her accep­tance email, Liu flew to USC over Spring Break to visit her friends and scope out the college for herself.

“We spent a good portion of a week out there, vis­iting pro­fessors and looking around campus,” Liu said. “I got to work on a music video Brian and Josh are working on with a bunch of other people, so that was very fun.”

For their part, Tang and Jackson are thrilled to reunite with their former partner.

“I’m proud of Faith for taking a leap with herself and jumping into what many con­sider an unstable career, albeit an exciting one,” Jackson said in an email. “She’s writing a good story for her own life, and I’m incredibly excited to con­tinue col­lab­o­rating with her again.”

Although Liu did not focus on film during her under­graduate years, she still thinks Hillsdale has set her up to succeed at USC — in par­ticular, by helping her develop a sense of some­thing about which to write.

“As cheesy as it sounds, knowing the good, the true, and the beau­tiful — that’s very important in film,” Liu said. “People can very quickly tell if your film is about nothing, very quickly get bored and leave. There’s a dif­ference between good in quality and good in content. And I think Hillsdale’s given me a lot of content with which to work.”