Friez brings varied background to cinema chair

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Friez brings varied background to cinema chair

Photo by Kayla Snyder

Photo by Kayla Snyder

Photo by Kayla Snyder

Written By Kayla Snyder, Co-Copy Desk Chief

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As a Pittsburgh native, Cara Friez always knew that the city of bridges would be her home. 

Even after moving away from the city for school and taking on different jobs in different cities around the east coast, Friez would eventually find herself back in Pittsburgh.

“I’ve kind of been all over,” assistant professor in the cinema department, Friez said. “I lived in New York City for a while; I went back to North Carolina for a while and then I did come back here. I’m a typical Pittsburgher; it seems with the boomerang where I left for a good period of time, but I came back.”

 Friez graduated from East Carolina University with a B.S. in Communications with a concentration in Media Production. Eventually, she went back to school at the Academy of Art University to obtain a M.F.A. in Filmmaking and Television.

Some of her video production credits include working in different sectors such as marketing roles, corporate freelance and video production. 

Friez explained she learned the crossover with communications and cinema when she worked on the American soap opera, “As The World Turns,” in New York City. She credits her job as a digital production coordinator and digital imaging technician as the biggest credit to her name. 

However, she eventually became more passionate about the editing side of video production. She said she’s done a little bit of everything, but didn’t really enjoy shooting and producing. She really found her niche in editing.

After finding herself back in Pittsburgh, a friend suggested she reach out to the Point Park Cinema chair at the time because they were looking for an assistant professor. From there, she became a visiting artist. 

In the Conservatory for Performing Arts (COPA), visiting artists are hired for one to three years, but they are not on tenure track. Visiting artists fill a temporary role until a position is available.

Friez is now a professor who oversees the editing concentration within the cinema department. Senior cinema production major Kelsey Myers and junior cinema production major Keith Tucker said that Friez feels more like a friend than a typical professor. 

“She’s very hands-on and very much willing to help with anything,” Myers said. “If you were to email her about post-production or a job, she’s willing to look at a resume or portfolio and give feedback. She’s willing to sit down outside of class and help you.” 

Tucker sounded off similar responses saying that Friez’s teaching style is laid-back and informal.

“Her classes are always great and she explains concepts wonderfully,” Tucker said. “Usually professors will give you a concept and have you do homework, but she gives you a concept and makes you do it in class and then have you critique each other. It’s very practical.” 

Friez told Tucker a story once about parents being skeptical of the cinema industry and job market at Pioneer Experience. 

“She would ask the parents, ‘Have you watched a video today?’” Tucker said. “The parents would say, ‘Yeah,’ and she would say, ‘People made that. Someone was hired to make that.’”

Recently, Friez also took control of Point Park Cinema’s social media and Tucker said the new presence has made a difference in getting student work out there.

“There’s a lot of things are made really well in the school, but no one really knows about it,” Tucker said. “Unless you read about festivals, you don’t really know. With social media, it’s cool that people can see the work we do.”

Her assistant professor role comes to an end on May 1 when she steps into the role of full-time faculty chair for the next three years. Over the last couple of years, the cinema department has filled this role with interim chairs. The last interim before Friez takes over is Fritz Kiersch, who also serves as the assistant vice president of academic affairs for the university. 

As the full-time faculty chair, she will be responsible for overseeing recruitment, admissions, budgets, equipment, event planning and alumni relations. Friez said as the full-time chair, she will still be teaching two classes instead of her usual four.

In this position, she will be able to communicate with faculty members to really hone the learning experience for students within the cinema department by teaching what’s new in the industry but also sticking to the core of the learning principles. 

“It’s about reaching out the faculty and seeing what they’ve heard to see what we can do to improve the program,” Friez said.  “I think what we have right now is solid, in that the majority of everything that we have here, you’ll be able to get outside, really easily.” 

Tucker said Friez is going to be “amazing” as the cinema chair. 

“She sees the improvement,” Tucker said. “She’s on top of the new trends in the industry and she sees that things can be better.”

Although Myers will be graduating this spring, she said Friez will use the power of being in the chair position for the betterment of the program.

“The more she pushes, the more it will benefit students,” Myers said.

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