Student-Athlete, Business Major Finds Passion for Filmmaking

Story by Social Media Ambassador Blagoja Naskovski ’24

In a pivot prompted by Kalamazoo College’s flexible curriculum, Ian Burr ’24 heeded a call for “lights, camera, action” in New York while discovering a potential lifelong passion. 

Burr, a business major, recently participated in the New York Arts Program, a winter-term study away opportunity, where students learn about acting, musical theatre, dance, play writing, directing, vocal music, instrumental music, improvisation and children’s theatre—or in Burr’s case—filmmaking. 

His interest in photography pushed him to take Framing Differences, a sophomore seminar taught by Genevieve U. Gilmore Professor of Art Richard Koenig, which gives K students a working knowledge of the tools used in photography before leaving for study away or study abroad. Burr then bought his first camera and worked on sports videography for the women’s soccer team and recreational hockey games.  

These experiences convinced Burr to add a film and media concentration to his K-Plan and seek opportunities in New York. There, he worked as a production assistant intern for an upcoming Netflix show, American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders, and at Green Point Pictures, an advertising company where he helped create pitches for clients. The time in New York also gave Burr an opportunity to shoot his first film. 

“The New York Arts Program was an amazing opportunity for me to gain hands-on experience as someone who is interested in the film industry,” Burr said. “It is very hard to get into the industry and participating in this program while taking classes and working for two companies was a very valuable way to gain skills for something that I am very passionate about.” 

Since, Burr has developed a Senior Integrated Project (SIP)—not in business, but in filmmaking—with a production titled I Love You, Bro, dedicated to his friend Jake, who died in a car accident. The short film focuses on the mental health of Rhett, who loses his best friend, Avery, in a crash. 

“I wanted to show how people deal with loss,” Burr said. “Some people push their feelings off, so they don’t seem weak, but no one should be alone, and it’s totally OK to share your feelings with someone.” 

Last fall, Burr had a chance to present the film—which takes place in his hometown of Franklin, Tennessee—to the K community while emphasizing the importance of mental health awareness. 

“The idea to turn my movie into a SIP came while I was attending the New York Arts Program,” Burr said. “Without the opportunity that K gave me and the collaboration with Professor Koening, I wouldn’t be able to do something that means so much to me. The professors are so great and welcoming. The small size class made me establish close relationships with the professors and my classmates easily. Professors here care about your progress and your ability to use your whole potential.” 

Burr also credits a close friend for his assistance with the movie. 

Aidan Baas ’23, “who also participated in the New York Arts Program, was very supportive during this journey,” Burr said. “When I was with him during the study away program in New York, he helped me to come up with the idea of I Love You, Bro. Furthermore, he came from Michigan to Nashville during the summer of 2023 and helped me with shooting and editing, which made the movie to be successfully completed.” 

Elsewhere at K, Burr is a punter and kicker on K’s football team, through which he’s established lifelong connections with his teammates. He also has drawn inspiration to achieve excellence in academics through faculty members such as L. Lee Stryker Associate Professor of Business Management Amy MacMillan, Visiting Professor of Business David Rhoa and Visiting Instructor in Art Daniel Kim, who have provided Burr with real-world experiences related to his coursework. And although he’s been dedicated to undertakings such as football and more, Burr strongly encourages his peers who are interested in filmmaking to find their own opportunities through faculty and coursework. 

“Dive into it,” he said. “Ask professors for many opportunities to grow. Filmmaking is building portfolios. If you want to be a director, direct something. Go and create. The only way you fail is if you never try. Be dedicated. Collaborate with your friends, classmates and professors. Create the films you want to see.” 

Ian Burr ’24 (left) works with actors Graeme Cadaret and Jayden Scheer while filming a scene of “I Love You, Bro.”
Filmmakers collaborate in a studio
While participating in the New York Arts Program on study away, Burr found his passion for filmmaking while working as a production assistant intern for an upcoming Netflix show, “American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders,” and at Green Point Pictures, an advertising company where he helped create pitches for clients.
Ian Burr prepares to punt during a Kalamazoo College football game
Burr prepares to punt during a Kalamazoo College football game. Photo by Kimberley Moss.
Ian Burr focuses on filmmaking with two actors
Burr films Cadaret and Scheer in the making of his film, “I Love You, Bro.”