The USC School of Cinema-Television has kicked off a new career seminar series, bringing hundreds of students and alumni face-to-face with leading professionals who shared their insight on entering the entertainment job market.
Filling the soundstages at the Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts, the inaugural “Got Career?” event drew more than 200 people for the half-day seminar featuring panels on film distribution, representation, working on television and working below-the-line.
“We’re here today to help you move your careers forward,” Dean Elizabeth M. Daley said at the start of the day’s activities, which were organized by the school’s Office of Student-Industry Relations and the Alumni Relations Office. “What has made this school so special is the strong sense of community that comes from being part of the cinematic arts. We want to make sure you know that when you walk across that stage at graduation, you remain a part of this family,” Daley said.
Andrew Marlowe ’92 (“Air Force One,” “End of Days”), who chairs the Alumni Development Council and served as the seminar co-moderator, underscored the value of the series for individuals and the industry alike.
“So much good stuff is going on at the school and the new crop of talent for the industry is coming through these doors,” Marlowe said. “We want to figure out a way to foster that and help strengthen the USC alumni community.”
Screenwriter John August ’94 (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Big Fish”), who also served as a co-moderator, recalled that when he was in the Peter Stark Producing Program, he had a difficult time connecting what he was doing as a student with what those in the industry were accomplishing.
“This is about those first steps to get you to where you want to go, and what the most important things are that you should be doing,” August said.
The notion of how to break into the industry was a common theme throughout each of the four panel sessions. Their members offered practical advice on a host of topics, ranging from the impact of reality television, the importance of joining below-the-line unions and how to market your work.
“This was a blast,” senior Kelley Qualls said. “It was so informative, and I’ll definitely be taking advantage of our alumni network.”
Alumnus Kris Hackel said, “I thought it was really awesome. It gave me a chance to mingle with the new generation and shows that USC is looking after us.”
The day concluded with advice from panelists at the wrap-up session and a lighthearted overview from August. “If we all had MBA’s, we’d know what to do, and there’d be a clear path,” he joked. “But thank God we’re not all MBAs.”
The next “Got Career?” session is planned for the fall. Director of Student Industry Relations Bonnie Chi said that smaller single-subject seminars throughout the school year are also in the planning stages. “The idea is to keep a ‘career path’ on the minds of students on a consistent basis while offering assistance along the way,” she said.