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The Hollywood Connection

The connection between the Communication Department and the entertainment industry was on full display this month. Prof. Michael Whalen interviewed producer and Santa Clara alumna Blye Pagon Faust '97 before a sold-out audience on April 4 after a screening of her film Spotlight, winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Screenplay.

With a stellar cast including Michael Keaton and Oscar nominees Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams, Spotlight tells the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions.

Faust hopes the film succeeds in shining light on a timely problem at major papers. “Spotlight is the story of the power of investigative journalism, but it’s becoming a dying game,” she said. “The resources to fund these investigative teams have largely gone away, and it leaves the question for stories like [the sexual abuse scandal]: Would they have been broken?”

Faust has collaborated with the digital filmmaking program in the Communication Department for the past decade. She helped create a spring break program with Whalen that pairs SCU students with alumni working in the film, television, and music industries in Los Angeles for a meeting or shadowing them at work. She also hires a handful of interns from SCU every year at her production company, Rocklin/Faust.

On April 5, Arthur Schmidt, who graduated from Santa Clara in 1959, visited Whalen’s Digital Filmmaking Capstone course, and more than two-dozen students experienced the equivalent of a master class from the film editor who won Oscars for his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Forrest Gump. He screened clips from several of his films — including Coal Miner’s Daughter, Birdcage, and Castaway — while commenting on everything from pacing to rhythm to music. The students, who are completing their own film projects for the class, were able to ask questions and get personalized advice.

“Art Schmidt is proof positive that a Santa Clara student can reach the pinnacle of success in Hollywood,” Whalen said. “When the students meet him they aren't just learning editing tips from an Academy Award winning film editor, they also discover that you can follow your life's passion, that you can build a career around something that you love. Most importantly, however, is that you can have a long and successful career in Hollywood and still live by a code of ethics that mirrors our Jesuit education.”

comm alumni

Oscar winners and SCU graduates Blye Pagon Faust and Arthur Schmidt visit campus in April.