CHEYENNE — Four years ago, Garrett Deary had no idea what kind of career he wanted to pursue. As a freshman at South High School, Deary decided to take a TV/Media class because he’d heard it could be an easy A.
“I fell in love with it,” Deary said.
He took TV/Media classes for four years, alongside childhood friend Miles Enstad. They became friends with Matthew Peterson, a fellow South student, who began taking TV/ Media their sophomore year.
Now, as recent graduates, the trio plans to attend film school together at Central Wyoming College in Riverton beginning this fall.
According to its website, CWC is the only college in Wyoming to have a film program. Wyoming PBS is headquartered at the college.
The boys credit their love of filmmaking to the TV/Media classes, and to their beloved teacher, Lisa Hushbeck.
“As a kid, and even in middle school, I watched a movie to watch a movie. But now when I watch it, I see different camera shots, I see the continuity of a shot,” Deary said.
After hearing about CWC’s film program from a former student, Hushbeck planned an overnight visit to the school for her students in October 2019. She said she wanted to show them there was a practical, approachable way to learn marketable skills they could use in advertising or public relations while also pursuing the big dreams they had for TV or film careers.
Deary, Enstad and Peterson went into the visit with an open mind, and at the hotel after the visit, Deary said they all sat down to talk about what they’d learned. There wasn’t a single downside they could think of, he said.
After touring the school and speaking with admissions staff and the film school’s professor, it seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.
“We all just fell in love with it immediately – not only the film program itself, but the people surrounding it, and it was a very good environment, very good people,” Deary said. “We’ve been doing this for four years now, so we already were bonded, and then we decided that this school was perfect for all of us.”
Staying in Wyoming for college wasn’t the original plan, nor was attending the same school. They’d talked about attending UCLA’s film school, or going somewhere in Colorado.
But outside of how exciting the film program seemed, there were the other benefits of going to an in-state school: it was much less expensive, they could get additional scholarships, and it was close to family.
When it came to approaching TV and film as a career, Deary said Hushbeck helped put things in perspective for her students.
“(It’s not like) you’re going out, pressing record on a camera, and then you’re putting it in some editing software and, boom, you’ve got a multimillion dollar movie,” Deary said. “You’ve got to put in the work and the time, because, if you don’t, you’re going to fall into the deep water, and now you’ve got no money and you’re broke.”
Enstad said Hushbeck is unlike any other teacher he’s had. As someone who struggled at times in school, he found his film teacher’s step-by-step, hands-on, welcoming-of-mistakes approach impactful. Hushbeck’s classroom was a space for open conversation, whether about class curriculum, movies or discussions about life. Because she’s passionate about similar things, Hushbeck is easy to talk to, Enstad said.
“She’s like a second mom to us,” Deary said.
In early TV/Media class, students learn basic editing skills and how to use cameras, later learning about lighting and camera angles, Hushbeck said.
As upperclassmen, students complete TV news packages and produce things like commercials and public service announcements.
For Enstad, it was a lifelong love of movies that led him to TV/Media. A self-described geek, he loves Harry Potter, Star Wars and superhero movies. His favorite film is “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” the 2010 cult classic starring Michael Cera.
“I just love the way he’s an awkward kind of dude ... but then you also see him be, like, totally cool and get into fights with people who have powers, and then he has powers himself,” he said.
One day, Enstad would like to edit big-budget films – specifically, Marvel movies. He’s already created a couple of podcasts he worked on with friends, discussing movies or comics or whatever they wanted.
Peterson is especially passionate about cinematography. He’s inspired by modern classics like “Jurassic Park” and “Back to the Future,” and said his biggest dream is to work on a film like “Avengers: Endgame.”
“(It’s) the cinematography, the actors. I just want to know how that feels to connect with people while filming,” Peterson said.
Hushbeck said Peterson also became the go-to tech person in her class.
“Anything I give him, he can fix,” she said.
Deary put together the senior video for 2021, filmed high school sports games and worked on the morning newscast, even anchoring at times – though he isn’t a big fan of standing in front of the camera. He loves editing and directing, and the relationships that form throughout the often lengthy process of filming and editing a project.
The South High graduate likes having control over a project – having the ability to make something his own, and then getting to share it with others. Deary’s big dream is to one day win an Academy Award for Best Picture or Best Director.
Throughout high school, and with the encouragement of Hushbeck, the trio created and submitted their own short films to festivals, including the Cheyenne Youth Short Film Festival. They also worked as student assistants, filming special projects for the community and helping other students with assignments.
One of the founding teachers of South High, Hushbeck has been teaching TV/ Media for four years.
“I had them when I started teaching the class, and then have seen them through to their graduation,” she said of Deary, Enstad and Peterson.
Having the trio in her classes year after year meant it was easy to build off of their skills and hit the ground running at the beginning of each year.
“I think it’s flattering, as a teacher, that they would choose to pursue something that I had a hand in teaching them,” Hushbeck said. “They were very excited to go on a trip, you know, but this trip ended up – I mean, it’s going to impact their lives, because that’s what they decided to do with their lives.”