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Communication Studio

Communication Studio

Ready to Roll

Students coming out of SCU’s communications program find themselves on top of the digital-filming world.

“I’ve never seen students get hired this quickly from one university,” said Michael Whalen ’89, Knight-Ridder/San Jose Mercury News Endowed Professor in SCU’s communication department

According to Whalen, SCU alums with years of success in the field of filmmaking—and moving into positions where they’re hiring people—often just shoot him a quick phone call: "It's like, Mike, I need somebody."

Not only does the strong and growing reputation of our digital film program fuel the industry’s need for technical expertise, “it’s just a fact that we educate well-rounded students, students who can lead, and these studios and agencies look for those types of leaders,” said Whalen.

Through the Humanities and Technology Endowment Fund, established by SCU Trustee Emeritus Rupert Johnson, Whalen judiciously and strategically spends on equipment and studio upgrades, such as the five state-of-the art digital cinema cameras purchased last year. The department's newest HD 4K camera enables them to produce films that program providers like ESPN and PBS are buying. “Our students and faculty are working with as good a technology as anybody at the top film schools in the world,” he said.

Not only has Whalen's planning acumen kept the department current, it has actually saved money, because he says, "We know what not to spend on and when to wait, allowing us to plan things out five years at a time."

These incremental upgrades keep students on the cutting edge of film industry developments—something that is crucial to a student’s foray into the competitive world of professional filmmaking. Case in point is Blye Pagon Faust ’97, who has been intimately involved in the program and who, as co-producer, has shed light on making the Church and the community safer through investigative reporting in her Oscar-winning film Spotlight.

With strong personal networks and state-of-the-art training, Whalen predicts that more SCU notables will rise to the top in the world of filmmaking. “The endowments are essential to the survival of our programs, ensuring sustainability and scalability of everything. Without this capability, our films would go nowhere.”

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Photo by Doug Plummer