Toddy Burton’s filmmaking career began in the seventh grade when she organized the neighborhood kids to make a superhero movie she shot with a VHS camcorder. Now, as an assistant professor of communication arts, she teaches filmmaking and screenwriting courses and shares her passion for movies with Gordon students.
“For me, continually working in the film industry is critical to being a good professor,” says Burton, who has completed three feature length screenplays in the last two years and spent the summer of 2011 in production on an original short film. “Being creative keeps me energized, but it also reminds me of the process my students will go through and the problems they will encounter.”
In addition to extensive on-set film experience, Burton holds a B.A. in art semiotics from Brown University, and an M.F.A. in film and video production from the University of Texas at Austin. Some of her most noteworthy creations include the short film The Aviatrix, which played at over 30 international film festivals and became the #1 featured film when it premiered on the YouTube Screening Room; and Never Date a Teen Idol (co-written with Kat Candler), a semifinalist in the 2010 Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition.
“I simply love movies. I see nearly every movie that plays in theatres, and I’m constantly reading interviews with filmmakers and tracking updates in the industry,” says Burton. “I’m so often inspired by the way that Biblical truths are displayed in unexpected and exciting ways through movies and through excellent storytelling.”
And that is Burton’s goal—to teach her students to tell excellent stories. “I get excited when I see my students’ work developing through the stories they choose to tell and the leadership roles they take on,” she says.
According to Burton, Gordon’s close proximity to Boston lends itself to many advantages for film students, some of which include the 48-Hour Film Festival, the Independent Film Festival of Boston, a number of historical and cutting edge repertory theatres such as The Harvard Film Archive, The Brattle, CinemaSalem and The Coolidge Corner, and the large number of award-winning independent and Hollywood film productions taking place around the city.
“Our location gives Gordon film students so many opportunities to submit their work and connect with talented filmmakers,” says Burton. “Our close-knit community of students and faculty lends to individual attention and the continual exploration of faith in film.”
While Burton loves writing and directing films, and teaching about film, she also enjoys practicing yoga, downhill skiing, and visiting her family in Nevada.