December 8, 2016
Remembering Jonathan Bernbaum
SCA alum among those who died in Oakland Fire
By Desa Philadelphia
We learned on Monday that SCA alumnus Jonathan Bernbaum, 34, a talented video and music artist who graduated from the Production MFA program in 2008, was among those who died in the horrific fire at an Oakland warehouse last Friday December 2.
SCA Professor Brenda Goodman, who mentored Jonathan through his senior thesis, said he will be remembered for his talent and ability to engage others. "The thing I think about when I think about Jon is the voraciousness of his intellect. He was interested in everything,” said Goodman. “He was a true renaissance man. He loved to engage with you about issues. He was opinionated but he also listened. He was a visual artist in every sense of the term. While he was here he did a little bit of everything, focusing on editing, but also cinematography. He was a great artist, but really he was a joy to know."
Jonathan’s friends gathered at the School on Monday night to comfort each other and to share remembrances. They described him as a talented performer who made it his mission to make sure everyone felt included. SCA classmate Crystal Page told a local news crew that Bernbaum was a connector. “I was not the most talkative person, and he was a very inclusive type of person, so he was the guy that was the bridge to be friends with other people,” she said.
Jonathan had found success as a visual design artist on the electronic dance music (EDM) scene, and had traveled the world designing and performing shows that featured complex light designs. Notably, he worked as the VJ for big-name EDM acts including the Australian duo Knife Party and German-American DJ Markus Schulz. Still, friends say, Jonathan liked to work small shows simply because of his passion for the art and community of artists who produced EDM shows. Fellow EDM artist Brent Bucci said on social media that Jonathan loved to create with, debate technique, and encourage anyone who expressed interest in visual art. “His visuals and performance was inspiring to countless artists in our industry,” Bucci wrote. “I like many others owe my career to his late night programming lessons, countless phone calls and endless debates.”
Jonathan was also First AC on “Pug Attack” which won the Doritos: Crash the Superbowl contest in 2011.
Jonathan’s friends have established the Jonathan Bernbaum Memorial Scholarship Fund at the School of Cinematic Arts. Please visit the School’s giving page at cinema.usc.edu/onlinegiving where there is an option to customize your gift to support the fund.