March 10, 2014

SCA Career Week

Students and alumni at the School of Cinematic Arts gained some insight into the entertainment industry during SCA’s first career week, which took place from March 3-6. Instead of having one career day, the students were given four days to attend a variety of workshops and talks to help them navigate the working world. Hosted by Student Industry Relations, the presentations included speakers from professional companies like Pixar, Sony and Paramount Pictures. Around half of the featured speakers were USC Alumnii.

Rosenzweig and Proudfoot in the SCA Gallery

Director of Talent Development, Torrie Rosenzweig said extending the usual career day to four days was a new approach to get students thinking about their future. 

"We really wanted to saturate the School with information on how to break into the entertainment industry after graduation.  Speakers in every area were here sharing insights and discussing resumes and addressing topics from cinematrography, to gaming, to animation… producing, the list goes on.  It was a push to really encourage students to think about what's ahead for them."

The events throughout the week were also meant to open up a conversation between the professionals and students. Rosenzweig said this week also emphasized the importance of networking. “It’s a lot about making relationships and making an impression on people.”

One of the first talks during the week included Luke Wang, representing Omnia Media. The workshop, “How To Work With YouTube/Online Content,” presented ways in which students could use YouTube as a platform for their work and how to use it efficiently. With the rise of YouTube, as a legitimate platform for content, it’s all about rising above the noise to make your content catch people’s attention. 

“Breaking into online content was eye-opening,” said Nick Schmitt, screenwriter and SCA alum. “[The talk] gave me confidence in something and to take it seriously. It’s not this niche market anymore—it’s an actual structure.”

Breaking into the industry was successful for some alumni who were invited to talk. USC alum Ben Proudfoot started his own production company, Breakwater Studios, and came to talk about what helped him succeed as a filmmaker, producer, and many other roles. He said, “If you want to be successful, you want to be the best.” 

One of the ways of being the best is to not follow the traditional path others are using to get a job in the industry. Proudfoot said he gained legitimacy early on in his career by getting his own office. It allowed other companies and clients to take him seriously. Also, working hard and keeping yourself accountable to your work is one way to make a career for yourself.

“That terrible feeling of dread, that’s what you want for the rest of your life,” Proudfood said. “If you have that feeling it could all really go terribly wrong, it’s the same feeling when it could all really go right.”

 M.F.A. student Charles Leisenring said the talk reaffirmed that “success equals success.”

“The thing that I took away today was just the idea if you’re not doing something worth having something people be interested in, you’re not going to sell anything,” Leisenring said.

In the talk, “How to After Graduation: First Years Out,” USC alum Ian Christian Blanche said you have to network to be successful.

“If you can build sincere relationships, that is the best skillset you’ll have coming forward,” Blanche said.

On finding work, Blanche said it starts with a template, sending it out to individual people and personalizing the message to talk with people you don’t usually keep up with. He said having those types of relationships take you to different places and help expand your network.

For freshman Sofia Roberts, the career week has been helpful in giving her insight into the industry. “From everything I’ve heard, being in the entertainment industry, you have to start early so I want to get on the ball and try to get an internship this summer and work my way up.” Roberts said. “So when I graduate I will have some sort of network or some sort of experience. ”

Career week acted as a bridge between the real world and school. It allowed students to think of their skills in terms of getting jobs and making a career for themselves.

“I think this career week so far, has really been able to reinforce that fact that there is a practical world out there,” Schmitt said. “I need to pay attention and integrate that into my own creative work.”

The trade publication Variety donated magazines for students at the event.