I chose a business major at Carolina because I didn’t know what I wanted to do after college – but it seemed practical for my skill set.
After graduating, I lacked direction. I took the LSAT and planned on going to law school, but I think it was because I enjoyed academia more than a desire to practice law. I spent a year traveling and decided to move to Los Angeles – blindly – and find out if I could make something happen in the entertainment industry.
It turned out to be a great decision.
I applied to the Director’s Guild of America Producer Training Program, which accepts only about 15 people a year, and it’s a golden ticket into a career in filmmaking. I was placed on sets for 400 days of work and attended 20 seminars taught by people who are the best at what they do in the world.
After two years I became a member of the Director’s Guild of America as a second assistant director. I’ve got credits on features like “Transformers,” “The Bucket List,” “Hangover Part II,” “Hangover Part III,” “Role Models,” “Sex and the City,” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and many more.
I’ve thrived working in the industry. Now I’m a first assistant director and living in Atlanta, which has turned into a hotbed of filmmaking. I’m responsible for scheduling the movie and running the set. What I learned at UNC Kenan-Flagler really helps with this work. I’m identifying bottlenecks, leading the crew to accomplish the day’s work safely and efficiently, and massaging complicated personalities of the cast and above-the-line players. I’m the manager of the set.
I bleed Carolina Blue and love the education I got, but I remember my frustration as an undergrad because I knew I didn’t want to go into finance, investment banking, marketing or accounting. I felt like there must be other opportunities out there, but I didn’t know how to find them.
If seniors are interested in being an AD, you can apply in the fall. There are two programs – one in L.A. and one in New York. The application process is completely independent, so apply to both. Applications go live in September 2019 to begin in the summer of 2020.
One last thing. This is a brutal job. The hours are long, the stress is high and there’s nothing glamorous about it. Anyone pursuing this should know that.
But I get to make movies.
And I wish I could tell my 20-year-old self that this was road I could take. So if you’re UNC Kenan-Flagler student who might want to explore a career path in my industry, I’m happy to share my experiences.