November 20, 2012
From L.A. to Chicago to Texas, four graduates share how the cinema prepared them to work in the film industry.
By Camille LeFevre
Published July 2012— The Screen is Santa Fe’s go-to public venue for film screenings and festivals, live opera, and even TEDx presentations. Perhaps more importantly, however, The Screen is an incubator for the budding careers of Moving Image Arts Department students. In addition to working as film projectionists (both 35mm and digital), mechanical troubleshooters, business managers, archival film handlers and restorers, and in the box office, students gain a plethora of film-related experiences they can easily apply in their careers after graduation.
“For students, The Screen is both a business and an educational environment where they learn about the true mechanics of the art and science of film,” says Peter Grendle (’08), The Screen’s manager and an adjunct faculty member. “Every student who has worked at The Screen has graduated with a variety of trade and professional skills they can put on a résumé and use in the film business.” In other words, graduates of The Screen are thriving. Read a few of their success stories:
Jon Deiner (’01)
When Jon Deiner started at The Screen his sophomore year, “we didn’t have formal seating, just metal folding chairs, and the projector was in a soundproof box we’d roll into the middle of the room.” By the time he graduated, Deiner was The Screen’s first manager and had coordinated its renovation—complete with a new screen, theatre seating, and projection booth.
Today, Deiner is a television and film production coordinator in Los Angeles. He has worked on several shows, including GCB, Brothers & Sisters, and Big Love. The production office, he explains, “is the centerpiece of any TV show or film. I work right underneath the producers, but also with actors, writers, directors, and department heads. All information flows through my office, so everyone knows what’s going on.”
Deiner credits the Moving Image Arts Department with launching his career. “Santa Fe is really hands on. You quickly learn your equipment and how to organize, write, direct, and produce a film. You also learn how to structure a film and collaborate with people, as well as resourcing, leadership, and problem-solving skills.”
A mentor to fellow graduates, Deiner says, “I have an open door to anyone from Santa Fe who wants to learn how to get a job and start working in L.A.”
Kent Bridgeman (’07)
“Today I do the same things I did at The Screen—times ten,” says Kent Bridgeman, the assistant technical manager at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago. “Things always go wrong with the equipment: A lamp can blow, a motor can give out. Your success depends on how well you roll with the punches and quickly determine a solution. My experience at The Screen was invaluable training.”
Bridgeman realized early on that “film is a medium through which you can talk to a lot of people, and that’s what I want to do.” While earning his degree and working at The Screen, he not only learned marketable skills as a projectionist, film technician, and manager, but also “how to balance work, life, and creativity.”
“Santa Fe also gave me the courage and confidence to follow my bliss,” he adds, which today means studying acting. “There’s an old saying that nothing bad really ever happens to writers, because it’s all material. My advice to future alumni is to stay open to whatever experience you’re going through and work hard.”
Emily Barker (’09)
“When I started at The Screen, I was scared to death,” says Emily Barker, a freelance consultant and art educator with nonprofit and school groups in San Antonio, Texas. “The projector is like this beast. If you don’t follow procedure, the beast will eat your film, snap it in half, or burn a hole in the lens. It’s like working with a live animal. If you don’t respect it and treat it correctly, you can get hurt. I actually dislocated my finger once while using ‘The Mangler,’ which is what we named our film rewinder.”
Still, Barker “lived at The Screen,” from freshman year through graduation. “I did everything from selling tickets and handling films to projecting for classes and the public. It was more than a job. We learned to care for the films and share them with the public. Cinema is an art form, just as projecting it is. We all loved what we were doing.”
Barker plans to return to school for a master’s in elementary education. “Santa Fe’s emphasis on service learning really prepared me for what I do now—community education—and for what I want to do in the future. I also look to professors like Brad Wolfley as models. I learned from him that teaching is about much more than making sure your students master materials. It’s about preparing them for life ahead.”
Tristan Love (’09)
The day after graduation, Tristan Love and James Longmire (’09) left on tour with The Apple Miner Colony, a band started by Cole Wilson and largely made up of fellow students. While on the six-week tour, Love and Longmire documented the band on film. Today, the duo is putting the finishing touches on the work: their first feature documentary.
Love and Longmire are also—along with lead partner Edward Shore—part of a directing team called Color Chart, based in Austin, Texas. The trio directs shorts and music videos, produces commercial media, and is signed with the New York production company Happy Ending. “Focusing on short-form work is really useful for students and young professionals,” Love says. “You can craft your skills in an environment that’s less risky than that of a feature film, which requires serious investments of time and money.”
The Santa Fe faculty, Love says, “encouraged any creative idea and helped me figure out ways to achieve that idea. They fostered confidence.” While working at The Screen during his senior year, Love had an epiphany. “I was holding a strip of film from Sunrise, a masterpiece of cinematography by F. W. Murnau, and while looking at it through the light board I realized what a beautiful, magical thing this was: seeing light projected through the physical medium of film.”