Harman Program holds discussion with writer and Baruch alum Sam Pollard

Mia Euceda, Arts & Culture Editor

The Sidney Harman Program hosted a conversation with Spring 2023 Writer-in-Residence and Baruch College alum Sam Pollard at Baruch’s William and Anita Newman Conference Center on April 20.

The conversation lasted nearly an hour and began at 6:00 p.m. It was preceded by a 5:00 p.m. buffet reception with students and faculty in attendance. Journalism professor Bridgett Davis introduced Pollard before Harman Director Esther Allen led the discussion. Davis recalled how she received Pollard’s “secondhand wisdom” from filmmakers involved in the ‘90s New York independent film scene.

“Well, you know, as Sam says, you just gotta learn to multitask,” Davis said. “Or as Sam says, stay positive, but also stay focused.”

Allen asked the filmmaker to reflect on his experience at Baruch and his early career as a filmmaker. He shared that he initially attended Borough of Manhattan Community College as a marketing major before transferring to Baruch.

Pollard said he never considered filmmaking until a Baruch advisor inspired him to join a documentary film editing program prioritizing people of color after expressing dissatisfaction with his major. He also credited a foreign film class during his time at the college to help him develop his appreciation for film.

After the film internship, Pollard said he felt uneasy about entering the workforce as a freelance filmmaker but was soon hired as an apprentice editor for director Bill Gunn’s film “Ganja and Hess.” Pollard was scouted by editor Victor Kanefsky through his work in the program. He said his three-year experience working with Kanefsky as an apprentice felt like a graduate school education.

“When I got into the film business, it was the first time I learned about having passion for something,” Pollard said. “The film business gave me passion, direction and focus.”

Attendees were invited to ask Pollard questions after the interview. One student asked Pollard if he had any advice for his younger self, and by extension, advice for other Baruch students.

Pollard told Baruch students to be patient about finding their passion and sense of self.

“If you find the people that you can connect with that can help you embolden yourself and inspire you, it will lead you to that sense of direction,” Pollard said. “Everyone has their own track. You can’t expect everybody to find themselves at 23.”

Pollard recently founded the production company Message Pictures this Spring and is in the process of developing content with Netflix and Roc Nation. Pollard also directed a documentary on rapper Ol’ Dirty B*stard with his son Jason Pollard that is set to premiere on A&E Network in 2023.

The Baruch Performing Arts Center will host a two-day film festival featuring Pollard’s four most recent films on April 24 and 25, including “Citizen Ashe” and “MLK/FBI.” The first day will include a conversation on the films with Pollard and English professor Dr. Erica Richardson. Black and Latino Studies Interim Chair and English professor Dr. Shelley Eversley will have a discussion with Pollard on the second day of the festival.