University of Southern California, Film and Television Production Major

Born and raised in a suburb outside of Cleveland, Ohio, Maria Alvarez is an 18-year old internationally recognized filmmaker. She is currently studying Film & Television Production at the University of Southern California, and she will receive her degree in the spring of 2019. Ever since a young age, Maria has had a passion for filmmaking. In high school, she started making and entering her short films into film festivals. Maria’s films have been official selections in dozens of international and national film festivals, including the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Cleveland International Film Festival, and the International Student Film Festival Hollywood.

Growing up in a small town, Maria took on the role of director, cinematographer, editor and writer on all of her projects. In the summer of 2015, she completed her first feature film, No Bandages in Paradise, as well as a short documentary, From My Head To Hers, which deals with the subject matter of the hair donation process. One of her films, The Waiting Game, has won over 10 awards, such as “Best Overall Film” or “First Place Drama,” in film festivals internationally. It also won “Best Short Film – Fiction” at the 2015 National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Another film, Between You and Me, was an honorable mention at the White House Student Film Festival, leading Maria’s film to be featured on the White House website. Maria was selected as a 2014 YoungArts Winner in the Cinematic Arts and spent a week in New York City at a film intensive course for cinematography. Through this, one of her short films was screened at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NYC.

In the summer of 2014, Maria interned at the Cleveland International Film Festival. This festival reaches nearly 100,000 people in attendance annually. Currently, Maria serves as an intern for Village Roadshow Productions as well as Robert Zemeckis’ production company, ImageMovers, which is located on the backlots of Universal Studios. For over five years, Maria has run her own independent cinematography and photography business, MVA Films. Her work range continues to grow: from photographing weddings, senior portraits and other events to creating commercials for various nonprofits and successful companies.