FAU Broward Campuses - Alumni Spotlight

Verner Maldonado

Sunday, May 01, 2022
Verner Maldonado

Criminal Justice - Film, Video & New Media | Class of 2011

Unbeknownst to him at the time, Verner Maldonado created for himself the kind of degree that covers everything you need to know to make it as a filmmaker in Hollywood. Maldonado graduated from FAU in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the College of Social Work & Criminal Justice and a bachelor’s in Film, Video & New Media (with a minor in commercial music) from the School of Communication & Multimedia Studies, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters. Today, he is in the midst of directing his first fully financed feature film, Best Man, Dead Man, with fellow FAU alum and friend, screenwriter Matthew Schlissel.

"I shelved the idea of working in film when I graduated from high school because it was presented as this far off idea that there couldn’t be a sustainable career in it, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth,"Maldonado said. "I worked on a Criminal Justice degree because I loved examining law and all its inner workings. I studied for the LSATs until one day a video I submitted for a YouTube/HP Computer contest placed in the semifinals. I had applied only 50 percent of my effort in creating that video, so what if I applied 110 percent? All of my favorite filmmakers had been in the business for 10 years before they created something that started them down a path of success, so I gave myself the same timeframe, with six months added. I also applied what I learned as a commercial music minor to the films I make."

While at FAU, Maldonado credits classes he took with Dr. Stephen Charbonneau and Professor Chris Robé with introducing him to "some incredible cinema"that "through a wide range of visuals, could express the very emotions we are feeling."He also credits Professor Shane Eason with helping him create a film from start to finish; Adjunct Instructor Ira Abrams from the Department of Music about law and the music business practices and Professor Alejandro Sánchez Samper, also from the Department of Music, on how to navigate the world of music-making "which shares a lot with the world of filmmaking."

Maldonado says his most memorable experience at FAU wasn’t filmmaking, but being a part of the Student Government. "It taught me so much about the other aspects of college life,"he said. "It dialed in my social and networking skills especially when dealing with many different clubs and working with other members on different resolutions."And it was at FAU where he met his friend, Matthew Schlissel. The two filmmakers are excited about their feature film debut, Best Man, Dead Man. The website imdb.com describes the plot as follows; "A bachelor party in the middle of nowhere turns into a night of murder and mystery when the best man ends up with a knife in his head. Everyone is a suspect and only an eccentric private eye in town can solve the mystery."Says Maldonado: "All I can say is this is a movie you will have a good time watching."

Maldonado’s advice to FAU students who aspire to become filmmakers? "Stay the course, drill it into your head that this is not an overnight success career, and success itself could be many different things. It shouldn't be about fame or money. Some of those things can happen but only over a long period of time. You have to live, breathe, eat, sleep, dream this stuff every moment of everyday. If you have that love for it, trust yourself. Even the people you love most can doubt you, it comes from a place of love of course to protect you but this is your life, don't let anyone tell you differently and be proud sharing what your passion/goals are in this field. You can do this, it's not easy but it's damn fun as long as you love it."

For more information on Verner Maldonado, check his Web site: https://www.vernermaldonado.com/