A group of SVA students headed west to Los Angeles the first week of March this year for spring break. Aside from soaking in the California sun, the students spent serious time in film and animation studios in Hollywood, interacting with some of today’s leading filmmakers and production artists. The unique behind-the-scenes program was organized by Sal Petrosino, director of operations for BFA Film and Video and BFA Animation, who along with Angie Wojak, director of Career Development, led the students on visits to Disney Animation, Bad Robot and Fox studios, to name a few.
One of the highlights of the week was the group’s trip to FOX Studios for a day with director Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects). Singer, who also studied at SVA, invited students to observe as he worked with his special effects team on the final cut of his new film, X-Men: Days of Future Past. He then hosted them in his office, where he fielded questions on his career, the movie industry and his new film. To make the day even more special, Singer personally invited the students to his house that evening.
“Bryan Singer told me that if you love what you do and you continue to push toward your dreams, you’ll make it,” said Nick Cea, one of the students who participated in the program. “The experience overall was amazing, 100 percent eye opening. It gave me great insight into what the future could hold for me and the other students as well.”
The trip also included conversations with several celebrated SVA alumni, including Academy Award-winning sound engineer Mark Ulano (1975 Film and Video), who has worked on such films as Titanic, and Kill Bill I and II; Disney animator Alex Kupershmidt (BFA 1982 Animation), who has worked on such features as Beauty and the Beast, Tangled and Frozen; Disney lighting artist Fatema Tarzi (BFA 2000 Computer Art), who also worked on Frozen; Disney and DreamWorks animator Tom Sito (BFA 1977 Animation), whose resume includes Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and The Lion King; and Randall Emmett (BFA 1994 Film and Video), a producer whose films include Lone Survivor, Rambo and End of Watch.
“One of the major goals of the program is to immerse students in real world environments and allow them to meet artists who are creating the work we see on the big screen and television,” Petrosino said. “Presenting our students with the opportunity to personally encounter each artist and hear firsthand their personal journeys to success (the highs and certainly the lows) demystifies the students’ own journeys and helps them realize their dreams and aspirations can indeed become a reality.”
“The industry guests were incredibly generous with their time and advice, sharing a wealth of knowledge and encouragement with the students,” Wojak said. “Internship opportunities were discussed at each company and we were thrilled at the level of access these award-winning creatives offered our students.”
As an added bonus, the students also had the opportunity to visit the set of the movie Entourage and observed the filming of the final scene. After the film wrapped, the class posed for photos with several of the production’s lead actors.
Images from top down: Students meeting with director Bryan Singer; the group in front of Fox Studios; with Mark Ulano; on the roof at Bad Robot; with the cast of Entourage. Photos by Chris Jessick, associate director of marketing, Admissions.