For a fifth year, students in the Media and Society program will head to the heart of the country’s entertainment industry: Los Angeles. Over break, the group of 20 students will be lead by Les Friedman, professor and chair of the Media and Society department and Brandi Ferrarra, director of the Salisbury Center for Career Services Professional Development.
This year, the Los Angeles: Behind the Scenes program will span a jam-packed three days exploring the many facets of careers in entertainment. Students will interact with alums and professionals working in music, film, television and radio industries.
“Our Los Angeles program is one of our most successful programs,” says Ferrara. “Not only are students exposed to many varied career options, but they are given the time and space to really connect with these professionals. The film, music and television industries rely so heavily on having a solid network of friends and contacts, and this program gives students the chance to create a solid foundation.”
This year marks the first time that students will visit the Career and Internship Connections Career Fair held at the Olympic Collections Banquet and Conference Center. A unique opportunity, students will be able to explore a vast array of jobs, and form connections with industry insiders.
However, the major strength of the program comes from its diverse schedule of panels, site visits and networking opportunities.
From the world of television, students will have the opportunity to meet with professionals involved in all aspects of the small screen – from development and production executives to CBS Correspondent Bill Whitaker ’73, L.H.D. ’97. Ann Johnson ’83, senior development executive at Littlefield Productions, the production company founded by alum Warren Littlefield ’74, will discuss pilot season and developing television series, while Mark Dissin ’77, owner, executive producer, and director of Pre-Sliced Productions, and Luke Esselen ‘10, assistant to a talent manager/producer at Mosaic, will answer questions about their own experiences. Dave Pullano ’84, creative executive at Zodiak Media, will also join students from a discussion about his career and work in the industry.
In past years, one of the most exciting moments of the trip is the visit to the set of the hit television series Glee at Paramount Studios. Students have been able to meet with Emmy-winning, co-director, writer and executive producer Brad Falchuk ’92.
For students interested in becoming a part of the city’s vibrant music business, a panel on the industry will introduce participants to an array of possible avenues to pursue. Chris Adelmann ‘77, executive vice president of business development for LiveNation, will join the program once again to discuss concert promotion. Alan Melina, managing partner at New Heights Entertainment Management, will speak about the industry from his perspective, and former talent booker for MTV/VH1/CMT Radio Emily Currie ’02 and others, will join the panel.
Of course, the film industry will be well represented during this trip to Hollywood. Writer and director of films such as Crank‘s Mark Neveldine ’95 will meet with students to talk about how his interests became his career. A panel on choosing a career path as a producer will be led by Taylor Coe ‘05, partner at Ocean Front Entertainment, and Judith Vogelsang ’77, a producer, director and writer at Stone Harbor Pictures.
There will be a separate panel on the art of making movies for those hoping to get a full idea of “the big picture.” Students will hear from Kenneth Halsband ‘88, producer, executive vice president, and head of physical and post production, at Relativity Media; Nick Holly, writer, producer and director at Head of Epiphany Alliance Management; and Rob Holmes ’92, founder and president of Green Living Project.
Students studying the art of screenwriting will have an opportunity to hear from experts in their craft during a writer’s panel discussion with Eren Celeboglu ’99, development executive with Joel McHale’s production company, Free Period Productions; screenwriter JP Lavin ’95; and Nina Colman ’87, producer and screenwriter for East End Pictures.
In addition to these more “traditional” Hollywood career paths, participants will have the opportunity explore the work of Amy Reichel ’01, senior development research analyst for NPR in Culver City, as well as the world of public relations in Los Angeles with Alex Jessup ’06, senior account executive and media specialist at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.
For those interested in the multimedia aspect of Media and Society, a panel with Ian Claxton ‘01, producer of Blu-ray and standard definition discs at Technicolor, and Suzanne Grant ‘71, head of West Coast display, video and mobile at Google, will provide insight and in-depth knowledge of this part of the industry.
The program will also be highlighted by an HWS reception during which students will have the chance to meet and network with alumni and alumnae living and working in the L.A. area.