Meet the Makers, Volume V: Chris Abeel

BY Courtney Cilman, November 24, 2015

“Meet the Makers” is a profile series highlighting the experiences of current Film students and faculty members here at Columbia. I recently sat down with Chris Abeel, a second-year Creative Producing concentrate from New Jersey. Prior to Columbia, Chris was working as a project manager for Bank of America and spending any available free time working on his own screenplays. As someone who claims he was “raised by HBO,” Chris says that film has always been a massive part of his life. Eventually, he knew he had to make the leap to focus on film his full-time career.
“When my parents would come home, I would excitedly recount the plot details to whichever movie I had watched while they were away. My happiest memory was describing Raising Arizona to my father and getting him excited enough to go rent it from the local video store for us to watch as a family that night.”
Like many others in the program, Abeel was attracted to the Film Program’s emphasis on storytelling. While Abeel will graduate will a degree in Creative Producing, he is also a highly talented screenwriter. Most recently, he was selected for a Sloan Grant mentorship for his screenplay about a chemist who invents mustard gas. He finds himself inspired by characters who don’t fit the mold.
“I'm inspired by weirdos, underdogs and the imperfect in search of perfection. People who defy expectation and live by their own terms are extremely interesting to me. No matter what you look like, what language you spoke or how odd you might be, work hard enough and you'll have a place in the winner's circle. I always found that very inspiring, and still believe in it.”
He reiterated this sentiment when I asked him to sum himself up in his favorite quote. He told me:
“You are what you do. Not what you say you do.”