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Cued Up for a Career in Film Production


Landing in the right job after college can often feel as stress-inducing as preparing to take a director’s cue: ready, set, action. Luckily for students at Hamilton, opportunities to explore just about any profession are available through the Career Center, including the field of film production.

A group of nine students interested visited the Syracuse, N.Y.-based American High Studio recently for a tour led by film producer Will Phelps. While walking through the 100,000-square-foot facility designed to look like a typical high school, students were given a quick 101 about the diverse set of roles that form a film team, from producer and director to designer and editor. 

“It was surprising to find out that there’s a full-scale production company less than an hour away from Hamilton,” says Katherine Kim ’22. “We got to see how much work really goes on behind-the-scenes of a movie’s production. I’ve never seen a film studio in person before, so this trip was definitely eye-opening.”

Upstate and Central New York State have long played an important role in the media arts from Kodak’s invention of flexible roll film to Ithaca’s role during the silent-era production of Westerns. Trips like this are a great way for students to get hands-on experience with this kind of work.

American High was founded in 2017 by film director and producer Jeremy Garelick, who created the full-service production company to specialize in teen comedies. Since its creation, the company has worked with such well-known actors as Sydney Sweeney, Dylan Sprouse, Brandon Flynn, and Pete Davidson. 

“It’s valuable for students to realize that serious film production happens locally and not just in Los Angeles and New York City,” says Professor Scott MacDonald, director of Cinema and Media Studies. “Upstate and Central New York State have long played an important role in the media arts from Kodak’s invention of flexible roll film to Ithaca’s role during the silent-era production of Westerns. Trips like this are a great way for students to get hands-on experience with this kind of work.”

The trip to the studio was made possible through the Career Center’s Connect Team, whose mission is to engage students in industry-specific career exploration. Aimee Booth ’22 helped spearhead the trip by reaching out to Phelps to schedule a tour for students to learn about the nearby facility. She says she initially found out about the company through a casual conversation with Dean of Faculty Suzanne Keen. 

“Members of the Connect Team meet with Hamilton faculty every semester to get feedback on our programming and ideas for things to do next,” Booth explains. “We decided to look into American High because of the uniqueness of having a full-scale production company so nearby with a strong internship program looking to hire students right out of college.”

The studio often hires interns from college programs to help when a movie is being filmed. Interns who show promise and display a desire to continue working with the company will sometimes be offered a paid job in following productions. 

“We’re always looking for dedicated people who want to join the industry,” Phelps says. “We [want] to support anyone nearby interested in learning about what it takes to be a professional in this field and produce great works.”

 

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