“Every road block is an opportunity,” Ken Halsband ’88 told students, encouraging them to be problem solvers. Halsband was among the more than a dozen alums representing journalists, screenwriters, producers and directors who met with students, presented career discussions and offered them behind-the-scenes looks at the media and film industry in Los Angeles. Halsband’s talk was held over winter break as part of the Los Angeles experience program offered through the Salisbury Center for Career Services and Professional Development.
A record number of students applied for this year’s program with 20 students ultimately attending. Among them was senior Emma Boehm’12, who spent two summers in New York City and was interested in this experience to see “how things in the media industry worked on the other side of the country.”
Her experience in L.A. was beneficial in more ways than she’d expected. “While I definitely went to get a feel for the industry, I surprisingly got a pretty good measure of what life is like in the city of L.A. itself. And, it helped me to see some of the things I shouldn’t do. That’s one of the great things about the trip – it cleared up a lot of things for us all, both the good and the bad.”
Sophie-Ann Price ’12 says she appreciates that the alums “shared their own experiences and specifically what advantages they had coming from a small liberal arts school.”
“I think that the Colleges’ required eight, very diverse, goals is an advantage to all of us, specifically students interested in entertainment. Whether it is Spanish or English, these subject matters have contributed to the way I think, which is something that I will find useful no matter what I decide to do within the entertainment industry,” Price says.
New this year, the first day of the trip featured an all-day conference during which alums presented discussions alone or as parts of panels. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and network with them throughout the day, including at lunch.
Halsband presented “From Script to Screen: Making Movies.” He was joined by Nina Colman ’04, producer with East End Pictures, Nick Holly, writer, producer, director and head of Epiphany Alliance Management, and Adam Fratto, co-executive producer of “Haven.” Halsband was co-producer of the film, “The Fighter,” nominated for seven Academy Awards in 2011 and winner of best supporting actor and actress. He is executive vice president and head of physical and post production at Relativity Media, LLC. He joined Relativity Media in 2006. His work as a producer, executive producer, head of production and head of physical and post production includes more than 60 films, including “Dear John,” “The Spy Next Door,” “Brothers” and “Son of the Mask.”
Also among the alums who took part in the conference were Executive Producer Warren Littlefield ’74 and Ann Johnson ’83, senior development executive with Littlefield Productions. Prior to the trip, Littlefield supplied students with a script to read, “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23.” During his session in L.A., he previewed the pilot for the show that will air on ABC and discussed other potential pilot projects he’s working on. Littlefield is former senior and executive vice president of entertainment for NBC, credited with being an architect of the station’s winning Thursday lineup penned as “Must See TV.” Littlefield was developer of award-winning shows, “Cheers,” “The Cosby Show,” and “The Golden Girls.” He has been a regular participant in the L.A. experience.
Chris Adelmann ’77, executive vice president of business development for live events company and concert promoter LiveNation discussed careers in the music industry.
There was also a writer’s panel discussion featuring J.P. Lavin ’95 and Dave Pullano ’84, and a panel discussion with young alums Luke Esselen ’11 of Playtone; Taylor Coe ’04, HSG vice president of Oceanfront Entertainment and Actor Adria Baratta ’08.
Students also had the opportunity to visit with Brad Falchuk ’93 on the set of Fox-TV’s “Glee.” Falchuk is the recipient of multiple Emmys as “Glee” co-creator, executive producer and director and is co-creator and executive producer of FX network’s “American Horror Story.” He began his career as a screenwriter on science fiction shows such as “Mutant X,” “Earth: Final Conflict” and “Veritas: The Quest.” Falchuk went on to write for the award-winning FX series “Nip/Tuck,” where he also served as a director and executive producer. Falchuk continues to write and serve as executive producer for “Glee.”
Students also met with David Undercoffler ’03, online producer, auto critic and staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, Carolyn Lluberes ’04 with Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger of Bona Fide Productions. They visited Warner Bros. Studios and met with George Parker ’83, executive marketing director for Warner Bros., and toured KCBS, Studio City, made possible by CBS Correspondent and HWS Trustee Bill Whitaker ’73.
“In addition to the many opportunities students had to speak to and network with the alums in the industry, many informal gatherings throughout the trip also provided them a firsthand and valuable view of how professionals network with each other,” says Brandi Ferrarra, director of the Salisbury Center for Career Services and Professional Development.
“The range of alums that we met and talked with during the trip was really beneficial, and the cocktail party with everybody was one of the most helpful parts of the trip,” says Boehm. “There were so many amazing people to talk with. It was so great to see where different people have ended up since their graduation and just how the Colleges helped them get there.”
Les Friedman, professor and chair of the Media and Society department; Grant Holly, professor of English; Elisabeth Lyon, associate professor of English; and Ferrarra led students on the trip.
In the photo above, HWS students gather with “Glee” and “American Horror Story” co-creator Brad Falchuk ’93.