Shadowing Program Demystifies Film Industry
Communication students spent spring break exploring careers in film
By Julia MacIntyre '21
Now in its fourteenth year, Santa Clara University’s Communication Department Shadowing Program continues to demystify the process of working in film, television, and music for SCU students.
During spring break every year, Professor Michael Whalen (Communication) has traveled to LA with students interested in the entertainment industry to network and meet with professionals in the field. Students have the opportunity to meet with HR and internship representatives at large agencies like Paramount or Disney, connect with recent SCU graduates to understand their experiences finding work in the industry, and attend rotating panels made up of industry professionals, which allow students to mingle and make connections. To close the event, Whalen hosts a mixer for students and alumni to reconvene and socialize outside of a traditional office space.
Prior to participating in the program, Aria Berluti ‘19 (Psychology and Communication) was under the impression that the film industry’s expectation was solely to take on roles of director, actor, or producer. “It was very eye opening to me and helped me hone in on certain career paths that I had never thought of before.”
While the program is typically held in LA, this year the Communication department tested the waters in San Francisco and Oakland, where students met with industry professionals and groups and attended an event with Google to learn about corporate film. Though the location has changed, the objectives have not, as Prof. Whalen emphasizes that “the biggest value is networking. The film and television industry works on networking, [and] the shadowing program provides the first couple steps to succeed. Rather than just being one of thousands, there’s a face to the name.”
Katrina Rudd ‘20 (Communication with Digital Filmmaking emphasis) noted that the opportunity to talk with such a variety of local professionals—from those participating in corporate film at Google to independent filmmakers in both documentary and fiction production—as well as major film festival programmers, provided her the opportunity to get face time with people she never would have had access to otherwise. “I now feel much more confident about what I want to focus on moving forward because of my experience on this trip.” In regards to other SCU students interested in exploring the digital media production industry, she says she highly recommends capitalizing on the program, “it is a great way to learn about the options out there and to make connections with professionals in the Bay Area.”