KOKOMO, Ind. — Call him the Martin Scorsese of the auto industry.
Right now, Austin Sarver creates videos covering standard operating procedures, plant safety, and visitor information for FCA USA LLC.
Someday, though, he dreams of his work in independent horror, drama, or 80s homage film being shown in cinemas around the world — and it all started at Indiana University Kokomo.
Sarver, 22, came to campus after earning a two-year degree, attracted by the opportunity to minor in film studies. He especially enjoyed a class focused on great directors, and studying specific genres.
“It wasn’t until IU Kokomo that I actually had the chance to take film classes specifically focused on studying film and filmmaking,” he said. “It was a great chance to study film at an academic level, and it helped me build a better knowledge for the craft, and helped build a better knowledge on directors.”
His previous school focused more on broadcasting than film, which was not his interest.
“IU Kokomo has a focus on art, which I like a lot,” he said. “It was more open to creativity. The media program here is excellent.”
As a student in new media communication, he was an intern with FCA USA LLC for three years, based at Indiana Transmission Plant 1 and the Tipton Transmission Plant. He began full-time employment there, making videos, less than a week after graduating.
“Everyone says you can’t make money in art, and I end up getting a job creating art in manufacturing,” Sarver, from Mexico, Indiana, said. “I feel very lucky to have this opportunity.”
He was first inspired to be a filmmaker by watching the Quentin Tarantino classic Pulp Fiction. He hopes to go to film school eventually, and continues to make his own films, in addition to those he makes for school and for work.
“I saw that movie, and said, ‘I can do that,’ and pursued it,” he said. “I’ve always been into photography, and I’ve always loved movies.”
Sarver had plenty of opportunities to make videos while on campus, including a semester producing Cougar Country videos, staring mascot Kingston Cougar, for the Office of Media and Marketing. He’s submitted a short film, created in his cinematography class, to the Hoosier Dance Film Festival, and displayed his work in the Union Street Art Gallery.
Most of his video work has been short videos, and he looks forward to creating larger projects.
“After graduating, I’ll have more time to dedicate to writing screenplays and shooting my own short and feature-length screenplays,” he said.
Outside of school, Sarver is a partner in a small film company, Undefined Cinema, which creates videos for a variety of clients, musicians in particular.
“Lots of my friends are musicians, and they’ll ask me to make videos, after they’ve seen what I’ve done for other people,” he said. “We try to keep in mind that we want our videos to have a cinematic a look as possible, to bring in aspects from the movies. It’s all about production values.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.