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Artistically Speaking: Aly Candelas

Senior spent high school career as a double major

Zoe Hocker

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The Shield: Why did you decide to apply to the Fine Arts Academy for both majors?

Senior Aly Candelas dances with the marching band during the Taco Shack Bowl. Photo by Madison Olsen.

Aly Candelas: All throughout middle school, I was in band, and I really enjoyed the environment and the experience of it all. I only actually took one film class before high school, and it was a film and literature class, so it was about the culture of film and not really the technical aspects. It was more like a film analysis class really. I really enjoyed learning about the culture surrounding film and surrounding the whole industry. We had a project to actually make a film, and that was probably the highlight of my seventh grade year, I mean, to be fair, seventh grade is pretty rough for everybody, but that was probably the highlight of my year. From there I had been writing more scripts and watching more films than movies. I had just been slowly introduced to both of these different worlds, and when I heard that McCallum had this growing cinematic arts program, I just wanted to be a part of it. I knew I wanted to be in the band program forever.

TS: How is it balancing band and cinematic arts?

AC: Film is definitely one of the easier majors to double with, but band is not. It’s very difficult to double major with band just because of the time and energy commitment.

TS: What is it like managing the curriculum requirements of two majors?

AC: On top of just my graduation [course] requirements, I have requirements for band and for film, and they never intersect with one another. The two extra classes that I have taken for film are theatre and technical theatre and are not the same as piano and music theory, which I have taken for band. On top of that, film and band are both double blocked, but I haven’t been able to take band double blocked since sophomore year because of how complicated my schedule is.

TS: When did you start playing the flute?

AC: I started playing flute in sixth grade. When I was in sixth grade, my parents decided that I wasn’t going to go to just middle school; I also had to have an outside commitment that I was a part of, and I chose band. I was intending on quitting after sixth grade, because I knew that in seventh and eighth grade I was going to play basketball. I picked the smallest instrument, because I knew I was going to be riding the bus, so I was like ‘Oh I’ll go easy and pick a tiny instrument!’ I remember one of the last few days of sixth grade, being placed in band for next year and this kid in our class was trying to quit, and our band director was like ‘No! You can’t quit. I’ll bring cupcakes if you stay in band. You can’t quit!’ and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Oh, God. I can’t quit.’ He kind of scared me. I started to like it more and had more of a reason to stay in band when I started marching band. I love marching band.

TS: Are you looking to pursue either band or film in college or as a career?

AC: I definitely want to keep writing films. I don’t know if I’ll be able to be out directing and producing, but I really enjoy screenwriting. As for band, I really have liked music theory, and I definitely want to keep learning about that throughout college, but I don’t know if my career would include music in any way.

TS: What have you learned at McCallum from being involved in both majors?

AC: In film, when I first started, I had dreams of becoming a filmmaker. I learned through my experience at McCallum and my experience with my internship that film as a career just isn’t for me as much as it is just a hobby or a side thing that I want to keep doing. It’s not the means of making a living for me. I love it, and I’m sad to say that I won’t be doing it for my whole life, but when I have to choose and get down to it, I think it’s just too crazy for me to stick with.

TS: What are your roles in each?

AC: In band, I am a squad leader, which is fun. Basically, we just teach people how to march and that sort of thing. It’s really more during marching season that it’s more applicable. We teach people how to march and are really the leaders of the band. I am in charge of filming and editing all of the plays and musicals that MacTheatre puts on. I choose which days we are going to film, what cameras we use, who helps me and whatnot.

TS: What are your plans for college?

AC: I am planning on going to the University of North Texas and majoring in philosophy, and from there I hope to go to grad school and possibly become either a philosophy teacher or something else to do with philosophy.

TS: What have been some of your biggest accomplishments at McCallum in film or in band?

AC: The first thing that comes to mind is when band went to state this year. That was amazing and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In film, I’ve made a few pretty good films that I am proud of. I made a music video that I really loved. I have also been a paid intern for a little over a year now.

TS: Can you talk about that internship a little bit?

AC: I am a paid intern for a local artist here in Austin. She has been a great mentor for me and has taught me a lot about pursuing your dreams and doing art as a career and the logistics of making your life the way you want it to be instead of fitting into this mold that the world has created for you. She has done a few projects that were on South Congress during South By Southwest, and last year I was involved in documenting that process and creating a 15 minute film about that, which she kept and shows to people sometimes to show her work and talk about it.

TS: What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a double major?

AC: I’d say that if you really want it and work hard towards getting your life balanced out and sticking with both, then you can make it work but, it takes a lot of sacrifice and time and energy that you’re giving away to these causes that you value so much.

TS: How has is been balancing your school work with all of the extracurriculars you do?

AC: The first three years [of high school], I really struggled. I didn’t know, but I actually have ADHD. When I started getting treatment for that, my grades completely turned around and greatly improved. Ms. Ramsay, the fine arts director, pulled me into her office last year, and I was really close to getting out of the academy [due to grades]. She said, ‘Hey, I think you should drop your majors and focus on graduating high school. I don’t think you need to be doing this extra stuff,’ and I said, ‘Let me prove you wrong. Give me a chance and I will prove you wrong.’ I started getting the treatment I needed, and then I came back into her office and she told me that she had never been more proud to have been proven wrong.

Ms. Ramsay, the fine arts director, pulled me into her office last year, and I was really close to getting out of the academy [due to grades]. She said, ‘Hey, I think you should drop your majors and focus on graduating high school. I don’t think you need to be doing this extra stuff,’ and I said, ‘Let me prove you wrong. Give me a chance and I will prove you wrong.’ I started getting the treatment I needed, and then I came back into her office and she told me that she had never been more proud to have been proven wrong.”

— Aly Candelas

TS: Do you have anything, as a senior, that you want to look back on from band or film?

AC: One of the great things about McCallum is that it really enforces competition, not only with yourself but with your peers. You want to be first chair or you want to be selected for this film festival, but maybe only one kid can be selected or there can only be one first chair. Film and band have taught me to push myself and to force myself to go the extra mile, but at the same time  not worry too much about other people and where they are. Life is kind of a race, and what you realize as you mature is that the race isn’t with others, it’s really with yourself.

TS: How has it been being able to be apart of the Fine Arts Academy? How do you think your experience here would compare to going to another school?

AC: I always tell people that McCallum is like a tiny Sixth Street put together in North-Central Austin. Also, being a part of the Academy Ambassadors has really opened me up for more leadership and more professional roles in the arts.

TS: How did you get selected to become an Academy Ambassador for cinematic arts?

AC: Mr. Rogers nominated three of us, and Ms. Ramsay chose two of us, and then from there she sent emails and it became this thing.

TS: What are your responsibilities as an ambassador?

AC: I have done a few recruiting events. I have worked the Fine Arts Academy showcase. I actually was one of the emcees. My job is just trying to help prospective students and parents [understand] how the film program runs and how McCallum runs. I get asked a lot of questions not only about film, but also about just high school and growing up. Then additionally, with the current freshmen, William Magnuson and I are their big buddies, and we are just there for them if they have questions. We are responsible for being a friendly face for them. It’s kind of hard, especially at the beginning of the year, to be a freshman, and you are just figuring things out, so William and I and the other ambassadors are just there for them.

Film and band have taught me to push myself and to force myself to go the extra mile, but at the same time  not worry too much about other people and where they are. Life is kind of a race, and what you realize as you mature is that the race isn’t with others, it’s really with yourself.”

— Aly Candelas

1 Comment

One Response to “Artistically Speaking: Aly Candelas”

  1. Barbara Garcia-De Leon on March 21st, 2018 9:32 am

    She is an exceptional young lady! We are proud to call her our friend.

    [Reply]

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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Artistically Speaking: Aly Candelas