GSU Produces Inspiring Filmmaker and Alumnus
Seth McClellan is a 2007 GSU alumnus who says he grew up on the Governors State University (GSU) campus where his father, Larry McClellan, was a founding faculty member and his mom, Diane McClellan was a professor and founded the child development center, now the Family Development Center.
With a Master of Fine Arts in Independent Film and Digital Imaging, McClellan has produced, directed, and edited films that have been screened on TV and at film festivals. At GSU, McClellan directed, edited and produced “King in Chicago,” a feature documentary about Martin Luther King and the Chicago Freedom Movement. It screened at 18 festivals, aired on PBS in Chicago and every year on the Education Channel.
When he's not making films, McClellan is inspiring aspiring artists as a Mass Communications instructor at Triton College.
“I would not have been able to make my thesis film for my MFA, “King in Chicago,” without the support, guidance and access to equipment that the faculty at GSU provided,’’ McClellan said.
Why did you choose GSU?
The great access to faculty, equipment and it’s not too expensive. One of the things that sets GSU apart from other universities is that the class sizes and program sizes are smaller. It afforded me the privilege to be mentored and taught by Professor Dan Nearing, Chairman of the MFA program, and because of the small class sizes he was able to help me with a lot of the details and questions I had. He had a huge impact on me.
What did you get from GSU that you couldn’t have gotten anywhere else?
“King in Chicago” has played at 18 film festivals around the world, aired many times on PBS in Chicago, and plays each year on education channels. It also gave me the chance to work closely with Sanghoon Lee, a GSU professor who served as cinematographer for "Chicago Heights" released in 2010.
What’s next for you professionally?
I’m a documentary filmmaker and for my latest film I spent the summer in the Indian Himalayans filming Tibetan refugee children at a school there. It will be out next year.
How did your GSU degree help you advance your career?
It provided the foundation for me to have the tools and understanding of how to succeed professionally. My documentary, “Little Wound’s Warriors’’ is about young people on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It was featured in GSU’s inaugural Chicago Southland International Film Festival (CSIFF) in 2018, received best Public Service Award at the 41st American Indian Film Festival. TimeOut Chicago magazine called it “stunningly beautiful.”
What are you most proud of when you look back at your GSU experience?
I’m most proud of the opportunity to get to know and learn from the faculty. The faculty are talented, intelligent, and creative people. It has made such an impact on my life on so many levels.
What advice would you share with current GSU students?
Work hard—much harder than you think you need to. Realize your career has already started, and that you already are doing what you are trying to do so you need to give it all you can —right now.