Catrina “Cat” Dygert hasn’t been wasting time. The self-described journalist and filmmaker has already co-written a screenplay that has been turned into a film; plays, monologues, articles, and reviews are on her resume as well. And she is only 25.
Her film is a story of refugees titled I Am Here about a brother and sister who get separated while fleeing their country. “It’s about immigrants and the war in Syria, and that whole charade,” Cat says. “That was a joint partnership between Georgia State University and Sheridan College in Canada, and I worked with a writer from up there.”
She continued, “As far as the shoot goes, it was incredibly fun. Philip Lewis, the department head who spearheaded the whole project let Matt Long, the director, have pretty much free reign so it was very much our project. We were really a team on set, and everyone pitched in to help everyone else. It was honestly one of the most positive sets I’ve been on.” I Am Here won an award for Best Student Short at the 2019 Rome International Film Festival and was scheduled to show at the Atlanta Film Festival when the pandemic struck.
Cat’s film career got started when she took the Georgia Film Academy’s Introduction to On Set Film Production class at GSU, and then did an internship on Avengers: Endgame in September 2017. She confirms that Marvel is “super-secret” about all their productions. “It was very exciting because I’m a big Marvel fan, so getting to see all the props and help with the sets was really cool.”
“I’m glad we have such a big production hub here because I don’t want to have to move to LA or Toronto. Film production was one of the things I always wanted to do,” Cat recalls. “My sister and I would put on little shows for our parents, and I did theatre in school; it was always on my mind as a child - one of those hidden passions - so it’s nice to finally be able to do it.” She added: “GFA prepared me very well to be on set. It did feel like breaking into the industry, getting that internship.”
Being a full-time writer is her main goal. “I kind of bounce around between doing set construction and set dressing right now.” Cat has worked as a prop master on a couple of indie films as well. “I’ve never been a fan of routine and in the film industry you never know what you’re going to be doing on any given set,” she says, “so it’s very good for me.”
Hailing from Iowa and growing up partly in Germany, Cat is now an Athens resident. Her Facebook page reveals some of the adventures she goes through working on film sets: a broken finger, an (accidental) kick in the face, a security guard stepping on her glasses, being stuck alone in a haunted building, and more positively, building a spaceship and swaddling a pig. She writes, “Today’s job includes splashing around in a pool so it looks like someone was in it recently. On another note, I love filmmaking!”
I asked her if she had other interests besides her job. “Most of what I do revolves around music and films. It’s one of those passions that consumes most aspects of my life. If I’m not working on a production then I’m writing something.” Her articles in GSU’s The Signal covered topics such as the arts, domestic abuse, LGBT issues, a Star Trek convention, and fashion; she even had an advice column for a while and wrote music reviews for various publications. (Cat has a particular fondness for Irish singer/heartthrob Hozier).
“I really cannot thank GFA enough for everything they’ve done for me,” says Cat. “Looking back over my film career, I can source every job back to GFA.”