By Chelsea Harris
A Student Emmy Award winner has come to Piedmont with the hopes of starting something new.
Caleb Rogers, 20, has led quite an interesting life, and this isn’t recent news. Yes, he has achieved a lot within the last couple of years alone; but he has always been used to feeling a little different.
When Caleb was 6 months old, his parents adopted him from Russia. From there, they moved to Richmond, Virginia where they lived for 10 years. Because of his father’s job, however, he had to move around a lot over the next decade—from Farmville, Virginia to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to Chatham, Virginia. During this last phase of moving, Caleb attended high school at Hargrave Military Academy for 4 years, which was different from any private or public school he had ever attended. Ironically, in the strictest school he attended, Caleb found his love for art and ended up helping their school develop an art program.
“But I’ve always been interested in film,” Caleb says. “I started off doing drawing and painting because I was really artistic, but film has always been different for me. I’ve always had this dream of being an actor, even though it would never happen because I don’t like being in front of the camera very much. I’d rather be behind the camera creating things.”
He worked really hard in high school to develop his portfolio and ended up getting accepted into three prestigious art schools: Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and The University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. Caleb attended the SCAD summer program in his junior year of high school, and one of his professors actually worked for Ariana Grande. This was Caleb’s “in”— he was chosen to be one of the directors for his course. At SCAD, he ended up doing a lot of short films and a live show with students there. This is when his team won a Student Emmy Award.
“The best time I had there was being a part of the Savannah Film Festival,” Caleb says. “One of my really good friends was head of the journalism committee, and he said, ‘You have a really good presence, and you’re good at talking to people. Do you want to help interview celebrities?’ So I had the opportunity to meet and get to know Hugh Jackman, John Krasinsky, Emily Blunt, and a lot of producers and directs and other actors.”
After these first major accomplishments, Caleb was invited to work on three different music videos for Ariana Grande: “Thank You, Next,” “Seven Rings,” and “Boyfriend.” During November of 2018, he left SCAD and was solely working on these film projects in Atlanta. “Being able to be trained by Ariana’s videographers and getting to know her was really cool. When they asked me to do this, I was like ‘Oh, I’m not going to see her.’ But there were times when it was just me, her and her manager in a room.”
After “Thank You, Next,” Caleb worked on a few other music videos with artists such as J Cole, Chance the Rapper and 21 Savage. “Out of the people that I got to work with, I definitely know J Cole the best, and I got along with him well, too, because he’s actually from North Carolina. So we could relate and he knows a lot of the places I know.”
Caleb worked on music videos all the way up to this past summer (2019), and then decided to cool down on those for a little bit. He started working on a feature film in which his roommate at SCAD was acting. The feature film was The Conjuring 3, and he became a production assistant for the movie, working on it from August through October of 2019 as he was coming into Piedmont.
Between SCAD and Piedmont, Caleb had to decide whether to keep working on these film projects or to get a degree before continuing. “If I really want to get where I want to go, which is owning my own production company and directing big movies, then I’m going to need a degree in film.”
Caleb’s parents ended up moving their family to Clarkesville, Georgia in June of 2019 when his dad, Craig Rogers, became the Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Piedmont. “We’re actually trying to develop a film program here, and things are being pushed in a really good direction.”
“When I came to Piedmont,” Caleb says, “I was only going to stay here for a year and then transfer because Piedmont doesn’t have a film program. But I ended up falling in love with Piedmont, and I thought, ‘I’m going to try to help build a film program.’”
Caleb has been involved with meetings for a film program that Piedmont may consider implementing in the near future. The outlook is positive. The film industry is thriving in Georgia, especially in Atlanta. This makes it easier to justify bringing in a film program for the school, a fact that Caleb communicated with members of Piedmont College’s administration and mass communications department chair Joe Dennis.
“He came to me during the first week of classes and told me he wanted to help build a film program at Piedmont,” Dennis says. “His determination and desire is inspiring, and I’m hoping we can help him see his vision become a reality.”
They have a long road ahead, but the way things are looking, it seems almost definite that Piedmont will be looking at a fantastic addition to its Fine Arts Programs. Caleb said he is committed to helping see this project through. “It’s been amazing to be a part of this thing and to push this program for Piedmont.”