STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Joey Rayburn
LOS ANGELES – Cherokee Nation citizen Joey Rayburn has always wanted to be a filmmaker and write scripts for films. Since graduating from the University of Southern California in May, he is getting closer to his goals.
Rayburn earned a bachelor’s degree in writing for screen and television. He said he knew since second grade he wanted to work in the film industry.
Rayburn grew up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, attending Union Public Schools from elementary until he graduated high school in 2015.
“I had wanted to be a filmmaker ever since I was in second grade. And it was about eighth grade or so I realized I probably need to go to California to some school. So all throughout high school I tried my best to start writing because I knew screenwriting was the going to be the way I was going to go. I would watch movies. I would try to read scripts. I would try to do anything I could to prepare myself so that whenever I had to start applying to schools I had some sort of practice so I wasn’t sort of just not knowing how to do thing that I wanted to apply for,” he said.
His decision to attend USC stems from the inspiration of another Oklahoma-bred filmmaker.
“Ron Howard went there and he’s from Oklahoma, and I was like ‘oh OK, he made it so let’s try for that.’ So Ron Howard was the reason I applied to USC,” Rayburn said.
He said he had a great experience at USC in his classes and learning from his professors. He also gained writing experience, such as getting one of his scripts accepted into a film festival and being the editor for a satire student newspaper.
“Our class sizes were super small so there were only like 20 people. And everyone in my classes were super nice. We built a really great community in that way. We had these professors who are still working. They’ll come in from a pitch and then come and teach us in a class. So we had a great experience with them,” he said.
He said his family’s support encouraged him to continue his dream to makes films.
“They never told me that I couldn’t do it or that I shouldn’t do it. I think that really made all the difference. If they shut me down when I was in second grade, I wouldn’t have tried for it. But I got really lucky with some good parents,” Rayburn said.
Since graduating, Rayburn plans to stay in California and continue writing. He is working on his portfolio writing features and TV pilots and submitting them to different contests and for fellowships.
He said he’s a semifinalist in a script-writing contest called Scriptapalooza, where producers will see his work, and if he wins will receive screenwriting software and $10,000.
“Right now, I’m just trying to do the work no matter what, because that’s the thing I like doing the most and that’s thing I have a lot of fun doing,” he said.