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The Art of Giving Back: Tanya Schurr (BA '08)

As the production coordinator for Flow Nonfiction, the 2008 bachelor of arts alumna juggles office management, accounting, and produces on and off-set film shoots. Read her story here!

Tanya Schurr’s job isn’t your typical “9 to 5”. As the production coordinator for Flow Nonfiction, the 2008 bachelor of arts alumna juggles office management, accounting, and produces on and off-set film shoots. Every day has a new set of challenges to tackle. And Schurr wouldn’t change a minute of it.

A self-proclaimed “theatre nerd” in her youth, Schurr discovered a love for stage management in high school and elected to pursue her degree at The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance. She explains, “After looking at competitive and high dollar schools like NYU, Carnegie Mellon, and conservatories like Webster, I felt that I might want to take a few non-theatre courses and earn a more well-rounded education. I looked back at my hometown and UT was my answer. I remember meeting with faculty member Denise Martel. I was in awe of the possibilities offered.”

Martel quickly became one of Schurr’s mentors. Schurr shares, “Denise’s stage management classes were so much about what to expect as a real world stage manager. We created production binders, shadowed other stage managers, and had a chance to step behind the scenes of many main stage shows at Bass Concert Hall to meet Broadway crews who offered priceless advice and connections to the business. Denise was the one that saw potential in me and gave me the opportunities to stage manage shows from the start.”

During her junior year, Schurr volunteered to stage manage Wireless-less, a new play produced in conjunction with the University Co-op Presents the Cohen New Works Festival. The fortuitous meeting of Schurr and Wireless-less playwright David Modigliani (MFA 2007) led to their ongoing collaboration. Schurr went on to serve as assistant producer for Modigliani’s acclaimed documentary Crawford, and then joined Modigliani at Flow Nonfiction, an Austin-based production company that makes documentary content for socially conscious companies.

Schurr’s favorite project to date is Flow Nonfiction’s short film Espwa, which means “Hope” in Haitian Creole. Partnering with Procter & Gamble’s Tide Loads of Hope program, Flow Nonfiction filmed the company’s volunteers delivering donated washers and dryers to a local hospital and orphanage in Port Au Prince following the Haiti earthquake. Schurr says, “The post-earthquake conditions were devastating, but the positive Haitians we interviewed and the beautiful, smiling children we spent time with at the orphanage gave me a sense of hope. It was a truly eye opening experience and has made me a stronger person.” Flow Nonfiction is currently working on a film about meningitis awareness for the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas.

It has been four years since Schurr’s graduation, and her work and talents are making a national impact. Reflecting on her time at the university, Schurr offers her insight for students. “Take advantage of the incredible opportunities both in and around the Department of Theatre and Dance. Take the Business Foundation courses and you’ll be glad you did no matter where you end up. Join a campus organization, like Rotaract,” she advises. “Most importantly, build strong relationships with people, which as a theatre kid, shouldn’t be too tough! It’s all about enjoying the time you have and appreciating the community that you’re a part of.”

Monday, April 2, 2012