Ms. Sydney Bowie CdeP 2010 comes to The Thacher School as one of the newest additions to its world-class faculty. A Southern California native, Ms. Bowie graduated from The University of California, Los Angeles in 2014 with a major in art history. However, during her college years, she discovered a true passion for documentary filmmaking and investigative journalism. She traveled the world after college, visiting nearly twenty countries, including Spain, where she filmed her first feature-length documentary film last year. She estimates the film, which documents success stories of the European immigration crisis in Spain, will most likely not be ready until the spring. In the meantime, she is teaching here in the Valley, scoring some kegs of kombucha, and making a much-anticipated documentary on two exceedingly special people in the Thacher community: The Mulligans. I had the opportunity to sit down with Ms. Bowie and discuss her exciting adventures and plans since her glory days as a Thacher pupil.
Q: What is your job here at Thacher?
A: My job is the visual storyteller in residence (at least that is what the job description said when I applied). Basically, my priority is documenting the Mulligan’s last year, but I am also available as an advisor and mentor for students working on film products in addition to teaching the X-Block film class. The communications department also has me working on a number of their films about the school.
Q: How did you end up at Thacher with this job?
A: Last year I was shooting my first documentary feature in Spain, and I got an email from Mr. Chris Land asking if I’d be interested in a position. Then I applied; it was perfect timing for me because I was just wrapping up production on the film, and I kind of always loved the idea of coming back to work here, so it just worked out well timing wise.
Q: How does it feel to be back here, with many teachers that taught you as a student?
A: It’s pretty awesome. I’m definitely getting used to being called Ms. Bowie. What’s interesting, or has been interesting for me, is you go through Thacher as a student, and at least for me, or for most people, you idealize it, and kind of glorify the faculty. And to come in on the other side, feels almost like you don’t have a place at the table, if that makes sense? It’s a bit nerve-wracking, and I know I’m only teaching an X-Block, but I have never taught in my life. So on top of that, to come back to the school that I idealized everything about the faculty. Having to fill their shoes was something really nerve-wracking.
Q: How did you enjoy Thacher as a former student?
A: I loved Thacher. I always say that coming to Thacher was the best decision I made in my entire life, because I think it really changed the course of my life, and I don’t think you see that until a few years down the road. You really start to appreciate what it did for you. I enjoyed every part of Thacher, the horse program, the academic program. There was not any weak link there for me. I also had an amazing class, CdeP 2010, and we’re all still pretty close. I think the people really make the school, and to be able to go through all four years at Thacher with such an amazing class, and like what I said before, too, about faculty, that really defines your experience above anything else.
Q: Word on the street has it that you are making a documentary of sorts for the Mulligan’s last year here. Can you explain that project?
A: So what I’m doing is basically two parts: documenting the Mully’s last year, but then also going back to retrace their last thirty plus years at Thacher. I’m going to be talking to alumni, faculty, and staff about memories that they have over the course of the Mulligan’s time here, and structure it over the course of an academic year. Hitting all the major events over the course of this year, but all of their lasts, like “the last reading of the Chambered Nautilus,” “last fall EDT,” “last Open House;” all of these events gain new significance. We’re trying to go back and unearth some of the untold stories of their time here, how they [the Mulligans] ended up here, and how Thacher has changed with them being here. We’re trying to capture their legacy.
Q: What do you think the future has in store for you?
A: I’ve known since getting my undergraduate degree that I wanted to go to graduate school for documentary film. That has been very much a goal that I have had, and I have been thinking about applying in the next few years. But more recently, I’ve been thinking about adding an additional masters in investigative journalism. So I think I will be applying this year for an investigative journalism program, and while at school, I will apply for a second masters in documentary film, because I think the two couple really nicely. Another application of documentary film would be multimedia journalism, which I really see as the future for me. But, I have really enjoyed teaching my X-Block class, and I never thought I would say this, but I’m starting to see myself possibly teaching in the future, but I don’t know in what context. I’m still in my mid-twenties, figuring stuff out.