Mischa Cantu Blake - From a Prestigious LA Film School to LCC

Photo illustrating the news item

Meet Mischa Cantu Blake who joined the faculty of LCC International University in December 2022. She is an assistant professor teaching in the Contemporary Communication department. We recently sat down with Mischa to learn more about her and her experience at LCC.

Like many of our faculty and students, Mischa has a truly international background and her birthplace of North Carolina was only the starting point. Mischa graduated from school in Japan, received her BFA degree from the University of Arizona, and graduated with her MFA from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles. And Klaipėda, Lithuania is the 21st place she has called home!

This is not the first time Mischa is in Lithuania. She shares: “I first visited Klaipėda in the summer of 2017. I had just finished working on a Netflix production and was looking for a meaningful volunteer summer job. Through the Navigators, I found an open position at LCC Summer Language Institute. I was a resident assistant and had such a wonderful time that made a huge impression on me. I liked the learning atmosphere, the inclusive community, and the meaningful moments that made the students feel comfortable and that they were part of something special. Afternoon tea, field trips, and Bible study class are examples of these wonderful times.”

After her summer experience, Mischa was not sure if she would ever be able to return to LCC. However, in 2022 she received an email inviting her to come and work here. She and her husband Zack moved back to Klaipėda on December 28th, 2022. Now she is an assistant professor at LCC, teaching Introduction to Documentary Filmmaking, Public Speaking, and Screenwriting.

Things have changed since Mischa has last been here. She shares: “2017 was a time before COVID and before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, therefore, things were a bit different. I think students at LCC are more sensitive to each other’s needs. They facilitate environments where everyone feels safe and included. Everyone is mindful that time is precious, and the blessing of higher education is something that not everyone gets to enjoy. I love seeing students participate in deep and thoughtful in-class conversations about how they’re fitting into LCC and Klaipėda in general. LCC prepares students not only for their career paths but also for servant leadership. Servant leadership thrives in environments where empathy is fostered and that is exactly what LCC enables.”

This past semester Mischa organized a unique event where LCC students screened their short documentary films in a commercial cinema setting. The films were created as part of their Introduction to Documentary Filmmaking course. This was Mischa’s favorite part about teaching at LCC this past semester.

“My favorite experience was presenting the student’s final projects at Kultūros Fabrikas. What an amazing venue and such an awesome turnout! The students worked so hard on their films, and it showed in their finished products. It was wonderful to watch the students see their footage on the big screen and hear applause for their achievements. I admire the community that supports LCC students, it’s warm and very inviting. I will always hold this night close to my heart.”

Mischa has graduated from a prestigious filmmaking school – the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles. This school boasts graduates like George Lucas and Ron Howard. Students meet with leaders in the industry like Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams. Mischa went down the documentary tract. However, she still had lots of experience with many other aspects of film and TV production, such as sound design, art direction, cinematography, lighting, etc. She shares her knowledge with students in the Intro to Documentary Filmmaking and Screenwriting courses.

Learning documentary filmmaking does not have to be limited to a film school, it is also of value in a liberal arts university such as LCC! Mischa shares: “Many of the example documentaries we watch in my Intro to Documentary Filmmaking course were made by individuals who had no film school. Film school was something that worked for me however it’s in no way an absolute for anyone who has a genuine interest in film. What is necessary is a can-do attitude and that’s what you can find in every LCC student and what makes courses like “Intro to Documentary Filmmaking” possible. Students look within themselves and use their creativity and ingenuity to create thought-provoking films. I sincerely believe we’re at a place in technology where just about anyone can shoot a movie. Besides, the foundation of film school is finding your voice, your “lens” and producing stories from a unique perspective. What LCC provides are the critical thinking skills on crafting not only what you want to say, but how you want to say it.”

Mischa has been a wonderful addition to the LCC faculty! Students who have had classes with her have enjoyed learning from her while seeing her uphold the values of LCC International University.

Roberts Lanka, a 2023 graduate and Mischa’s student notes: “Mischa and Zack embody the core of what LCC is – a community. I don’t know why they decided to travel halfway across the world and come to a relatively small town in Lithuania, but they immediately started to work and act in the same selfless and compassionate way that LCC faculty have for years. Be it staying behind way past office hours to help get the right lighting, providing contacts and insights into the industry I’d never get myself, or buying you McDonald’s, Mischa and Zack, despite being at LCC for just a semester, already embody the values that LCC strives to uphold.”

We are proud to have such faculty members who see teaching as a vocation, and who through compassion embody the values of LCC International University, all while teaching our students valuable skills.

7 Jul 2023