Behind the Scenes Los Angeles – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Behind the Scenes Los Angeles

This January, a group of Hobart and William Smith students traveled to the Los Angeles area to network with producers, senior-level executives and actors who have created some of entertainment’s most iconic TV shows, characters and media campaigns. For three days, students had access to panels, site tours and networking sessions that took a behind-the-scenes look into the studios and daily lives of LA professionals.

LA_6On the first day of the trip, students connected with industry veterans Brad Falchuk ’93, L.H.D. ’14, executive producer of “American Horror Story” and “911,” best-selling novelist Jessica Knoll ’06 and a range of alums who discussed finding careers they are passionate about and breaking into the industry.

“After years of putting this program together, we have found it to be spectacularly successful. We have shown students that it is beyond possible to go from Geneva to Hollywood, and have connected them to internships, employment and our alum network,” says Professor Emeritus of Media and Society Les Friedman, who helped design and has led the program since its inception along with Professor of Comparative Literature Grant Holly and director of the Salisbury Center for Career, Professional and Experiential Education Brandi Ferrara.

“The best part of the trip were the stories alums told about how they made connections that helped them launch their careers,” says Cecilia Foley ’18, a media and society major. “The trip was a great opportunity for me and my peers to begin taking those same steps.”

The day continued with a series of panels covering topics from the music industry and talent management to film production and acting. Featuring speakers such as Chris Adelmann ’77, executive vice president of business development at LiveNation; Kenneth Halsband ’88, president and COO of Relativity Media; Christopher McDonald ’77, L.H.D.’13, actor; and William Peck ’90, producer at Hallmark’s Home, students gained a broader understanding of the range of careers in the industry. Alums who participate in panels and networking sessions also have the opportunity to make new connections in their fields and stay in touch with their alma mater.

LA_2In addition, students had the opportunity to take tours of the film production company Funny or Die and the advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi. During a visit to Hallmark studios, students met co-hosts of the show “Home & Family,” Mark Steines and Debbie Matenopoulos and watched them in action interview scheduled guests, basketball player and actor Rick Fox and Logan Shroyer from “This is Us.” They also traveled to CBS studios and took a tour of the set of “Superior Donuts.”

On the final evening of the trip, students and LA-based alumni, alumnae, parents and friends of the Colleges gathered for a reception celebrating the New Year with President Gregory J. Vincent ’83, providing students with an additional opportunity to meet and connect with the Colleges’ network.

Since the spring semester kicked off, participating alums have worked with the Salisbury Center for Career Services and Experiential Education to post internships and set up informational interviews with students.

Alums who participated in this year’s panel discussions included:

Chris Adelmann ‘77, executive vice president of business development, LiveNation

Jillian Collins ’15, junior assistant, Sony Pictures Entertainment

Blair Dector ‘15, assistant, Innovative Artists Talent & Literary Agency

Luke Esselen ‘11, talent producer

Brad Falchuk ’93L.H.D. ’14 executive producer/creator

Michael Guilbert ‘94, filmmaker, Waterproof Pictures

Kenneth Halsband ‘88, president and COO, Relativity Media

Chris Jacks ’16, business development, APEX

Sasha Jewett ’17, non-scripted TV assistant, William Morris Endeavor

William Keck ’90, producer, Hallmark’s Home & Family

Jessica Knoll ‘06, author & screenwriter

JP Lavin ’95, screenwriter

Mitchell Levine ‘81, president, The Film Festival Group

Andrew Mason ’14, Music Coordinator, Big Picture Entertainment LLC

Christopher McDonald ‘77, L.D.D. ’13, actor

Tyler Niles ’16, Day-to-Day Manager, Indie-Pop

Frances Parsons ’06, actor/model

David Pullano ‘84, showrunner, Machinima

Eric Salat ’92, producer, Leftfield Pictures; freelance

Kyle Sherwood ‘12, actor/grad student

Connor Widenmeyer ’14, screenwriter