Success Stories

Alumna finds artistic freedom, benefit from WCSU DIMA degree

Bri-Anna Caberson (Photo credit: Alejandro Lazare)

Bri-Anna Caberson
(Photo credit: Alejandro Lazare)

As a high school student in Newtown, Bri-Anna Caberson wasn’t entirely sure about her future, other than the fact that she “wanted to do art.” She hadn’t been a fan of high school and was pretty sure she didn’t want to go to college, so she took a gap year after graduation to figure it out.

During that time, she looked around at college graduates she knew and admired their successes — and acknowledged it would probably benefit her in the long run to go to college. Caberson enrolled at NVCC to try to get all of the required General Education classes out of the way. She was a marketing major, but it felt “robotic” to her. “This is business, and I’m an art person,” she thought.

Her grandfather suggested that she consider Western Connecticut State University as a stepping stone to a film school, and at about the same time, a graphics professor at NVCC suggested she look into WCSU’s Digital Interactive Media Arts (DIMA) program so she could delve into interactive storytelling.

The decision made, Caberson’s NVCC credits easily transferred to WCSU, and she entered as a sophomore majoring in DIMA with a focus on film. “It was a bigger campus and closer to the ‘real world,’ so I was nervous at first,” Caberson said. “But it was good jitters, as in, this is not high school in a good way, and here I can build a new path that will bring me to my future.”

Caberson found at WCSU she was able to express herself the way she wanted to with her art. “There were no roadblocks, no restrictions,” she said. “I was able to dive right in and have freedom in my artistic expression. The professors were amazing.”

She also developed many friendships and relationships in the DIMA program — something she said is important because you can end up working with former classmates at some point in the future in an industry that is based quite often on word-of-mouth recommendations and connections.

After her graduation in 2019, Caberson worked on small, commercial film projects for a while and developed relationships with camera crew members who had been in the field for a decade or more. One of them, Jake Shapiro, became a mentor to her and she continues to be offered work with his team to this day.

Bri-Anna Caberson on set

Bri-Anna Caberson on set

Talking with Caberson now is a study in industry acronyms, and she acknowledged that the military-style language and abbreviations for everything have become an ongoing joke with her family. She has worked as a PA (production assistant), as a second AC (camera assistant) and more recently, as a first AC, focus-pulling for narrative. Beyond that, her resume reflects her work with industry names that are familiar to everyone. Among them: a union feature horror film with Director of Photography Wolfgang Held, as second AC; New Remote Productions, MTV Digital, “Merch Masters” web series, as second AC; Otis Entertainment Corp., a Spike Lee project for Apple TV, “S2 Dear…” series featuring Selena Gomez, A camera and second AC; Openmind Learning Inc., monthly web series featuring David Blaine, second AC and digital loader; Imagine Documentaries, series EP directed by Ron Howard featuring Frank Oz, second AC and media management. Other credits on her resume include a music promo and music video by Buckets Moving Company featuring Mimi Webb and James Bay, second AC; feature film “Crabs in a Bucket” starring Jeremy Piven and Jamie Kennedy, B camera and second AC; a Michael Kors commercial featuring Bella Hadid, second AC; and more.

She has relocated to Essex County, New Jersey, where opportunities for work in New York City and northern New Jersey are abundant lately. One thing she’s noticed is that others in the industry “don’t care what school you went to, as long as you know your stuff. I didn’t need to go to NYU for this — why pay $60,000?”

Caberson said each new opportunity, like moving from a second AC to a first, or going from doing indie work to more mainstream union projects, brings with it a step in the right direction, exhilaration and fear. Sometimes there are also ‘dead seasons’ between projects, which can be alarming. “You have to grow through the fear and try to work through the fear,” Caberson said. “You never know who you’ll meet that will lead you to future opportunities. Unlike some other careers, Caberson cautioned, “In this industry, you cannot ‘fake it until you make it’ — it will hurt you in the end.”

Currently at the top of the indie film world, Caberson hopes to become a union camera operator within the next three years and ultimately a director of photography. As she continues to build her resume, she talks with her grandfather who suggested WCSU as a starting point about how things are going.

“He’s happy and blown away by my work,” Caberson said. “He tells me to keep going, do your thing, don’t give up, you’re working with the big boys.”

Sometimes she looks back and thinks, “Wow, this is actually happening.”




Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals, and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.