MSUM graduate heads into career in film

INFORUM, By Grace Lyden

MOORHEAD—Caleb Stumpfl was in middle school when he realized he wanted to be a filmmaker.

X185_0CDD_9“I picked up my dad’s camera—he had an old Sony that still used tapes—and I would make videos with my friends at a pretty young age,” said the 22-year-old from Hanover, Minn. “I knew it was something I wanted to pursue in college and afterward.”

Today, Stumpfl is one of about 940 students graduating from Minnesota State University Moorhead. He majored in film with an emphasis in production and is leaving as a finalist for an internship in Los Angeles with the Television Academy Foundation, “which is a huge honor, so we’ll see how that works out,” he said.

MSUM was the logical choice for Stumpfl. The school was not too far from home and was one of a few with a film program.

“The moment I got there, I just knew it was the right fit for me,” he said.

In his time at MSUM, Stumpfl made documentaries about artists and athletes, won the school’s 125th anniversary video contest and traveled with President Anne Blackhurst to the Boston Marathon, where he produced a short film that will be released soon.

He said he feels fortunate to have a career he loves.

“For me, I love every process of filmmaking, so I love to direct, but I also love to film and I also love to edit,” Stumpfl said. “But I think just getting able to meet new people and tell their stories is something that’s really important to me.”

During his junior and senior years, Stumpfl interned with Dragon Athletics, a position that “opened up so many doors for me,” he said. He saw his work reach a larger audience at games and on television, and this past year he produced an hour-long documentary called “Together” about the men’s basketball team.

This season ended with that program’s first trip to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in Evansville, Ind., and a school record of 35 wins in a season.

“Getting to hang out with the team and document their success was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” Stumpfl said.

Like many creative careers, film can be difficult to break into, and Stumpfl realizes that.

“But sometimes I have to step back and think, there’s no way I could see myself doing anything besides films,” he said. “I know it’s a competitive field, but I think that if you’re driven and if you’re constantly inspired by something, then you can achieve whatever you set your mind to.”