Past Recipients Student Testimonials  

Melanie McGraw has recently completed her MFA in the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where she focused on writing-directing with a specialty in sound design. She has also just completed her thesis film, "Pitstop," a film born out of her own life story growing up in a conservative Mormon family of ten children. This experience, juxtaposed with coming out at age 23, instilled in her a desire to deal with life's uncomfortable moments and nurtured an ongoing fascination with how we can all be broken and beautiful at once. She explores these themes through her work.

Originally from Hyattsville, MD, Melanie studied creative writing at BYU, and later became a restaurateur, as well as an instructional designer and training consultant in the restaurant and retail industries. At age 30, she left the corporate world to pursue her dream of becoming a filmmaker.

While at USC, Melanie worked on over a dozen thesis films in a variety of roles, including editor, production sound mixer, supervising sound editor, re-recording mixer, and production coordinator. In addition, she acted as co-sound editor on "Cinemanifest," a feature-length documentary with Midge Costin, Head of the USC School of Cinematic Arts Sound Department, and held a teaching assistantship in the sound department 2005-2007. In March 2006, she traveled to Amman, Jordan to assist a small group of USC faculty in teaching a nine-day filmmaking workshop, held in conjunction with The Royal Film Commission of Jordan.

Melanie is the recipient of multiple awards and scholarships, including the Samuel and Lorenza Gary Memorial Award, the Albert J. Broccoli Foundation Award for Excellence in Production, the National Association of Theatre Owners Award, and the Tania Trepanier Memorial Scholarship. Her debut film “Coif” (16mm B&W, 6 min.) has screened at numerous film festivals around the world, including Frameline30 in San Francisco, and in New York City, Austin, Hamburg, Berlin, Toronto, Vienna, London, and Sydney.

Melanie is deeply honored and grateful to be included among the esteemed recipients of the Caucus Foundation grant for her thesis film, "Pitstop."

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