We Are the Class of 2020 Telling our story, one graduate at a time.

Brandon Yates ’20

December 7, 2020

The UNCW experience for film studies major Brandon Yates 20 has the key elements of a good movie – a journey, friendship, challenges and self-discovery.  

Yates, from Concord, NC, who also earned a minor in history, acknowledges that hurricanes and the global pandemic affected his college life, but they didn’t define it. For him, the challenges were about self-discovery. 

“College was one of my first experiences with being alone and making my own long-lasting decisions in life,” he said. “I wanted to avoid this challenge for as long as I could, but after a while, I learned to embrace it. I truly believe that once it is tackled, you will come out stronger and better than when you went in. 

One decision Yates made was to stay connected to friends he met while living on campus as a first-year student. Although most of them now live in separate locations, this “core group of friends” has been there for him through the years. “Their support has meant the world to me,” he added. 

Yates, who plans to stay in Wilmington after graduation, already has some editing work lined up. Long-term, he hopes to earn a master’s degree in filmmaking, but first he wants to build on the practical experience he gained at UNCW. A documentary film project about a now-defunct music venue stands out as his favorite course assignment. 

The team I was working with was delightful to be a part of. We seemed to be on the same page from the phases of pre-production, the days of shooting, and all the cuts during editing were simply phenomenal,” he said. “The class was full of unique and exciting projects to come back to and see what others were making. This allowed for an open discussion, full of formal critique and analysis that helped each of us grow as filmmakers. 

Yates, who walks the trails behind Seahawk Crossing and Landing when he wants to find the energy to power through a long week, has some advice for new Seahawks.  

“Embrace the times where you may feel uncomfortable. College can be an uncomfortable place. We are often tempted to be guided by others and their decision making, but the uncomfortable decision is to decide for yourself,” he said. “When you embrace that independence, that uncomfortableness, that is when you can set yourself up for success.  

-- Andrea Monroe Weaver