The eight people featured here have already made a name for themselves on the UCLA campus, some bringing their talents to concert halls, fashion shows and Spring Sing. On the brink of graduation, these students will continue to pursue their passions whether that be shadowing a head executive at Fox, working as a pyrotechnics operator, producing their own movie or seeking other opportunities that will help them get their foot in the door of the Arts and Entertainment world.
Select a name from the left to learn more about these graduates.
Throughout his time at UCLA, fourth-year jazz studies student Julian Le has performed at countless events with his band Le J Trio, including Jazz Reggae Fest in 2011. Hear him play a rendition of his favorite song, "Beatrice" by Sam Rivers.
Jazz studies student bridges genre gaps
Julian Le, known for his versatility and mixing of jazz and hip-hop, has plans for a new album, summer tour
By Marjorie Yan, A&E senior staff
BLAINE OHIGASHI/daily bruin senior staffJulian Le started playing classical piano when he was 3 years old and was taught by his parents, both of whom are graduates from Indiana's Music Program with performance degrees.
As a child, Julian Le wanted to do what every kid had on his mind Ð spend a few hours playing video games, run outside with friends and go swimming. Instead, at the age of 3, Le’s parents introduced him to the piano.
Between balancing swim practice, instructing piano lessons at his parent’s music teaching studio in Milpitas and studying his father’s Charlie Parker and Art Tatum transcription books, music became Le’s life.
During his years at UCLA on a full jazz studies scholarship, some of Le’s accomplishments include the creation of his EP “Lost and Found,” the formation of the Le J Trio ensemble, touring in Europe as part of UCLA’s Jazz Ambassadors and the opportunity to perform at last year’s JazzReggae Festival.
“Lost and Found” was the first album that Le recorded and put together on his own. While Le has the music already composed for his next CD, he said the release will be delayed so that he can focus on finishing school.
“(‘Lost and Found’) was basically my first CD and a little project ... (I used) to familiarize myself with the whole process of making (an) album so I learned a lot from it,” Le said.
Le credits the teachings of Kenny Burrell, ethnomusicology professor and director of jazz studies, and James Newton, professor of composition, for his growth as a musician.
“I remember his audition clearly,” Newton said. “What impressed me ... was the repertoire that he chose for the audition. It was a beautiful piece by Sam Rivers called ‘Beatrice,’ and this is not common jazz repertoire. It showed me right away that this was a student that was really pointed towards ... finding their own voice in music.”
Le described his music as a collaboration between the genres of jazz and hip-hop. A musician that Le looks up to is jazz pianist and record producer Robert Glasper.
“(Glasper) is a big influence for me in terms of people who are trying to bridge gaps between (music genres),” Le said.
Some hip-hop artists that Le has worked with include Jonathan Park (Dumbfoundead), Elzhi of Slum Village, Ahmad Jones from 4th Ave. Jones, Alecoy Pete (Mic Holden) and Brandon Anderson (Breezy Lovejoy), among others. This summer, Le will go on tour with Dumbfoundead and Breezy Lovejoy in support of rapper George Watsky.
UCLA alumnus Aditya Prakash, who has collaborated with Le over the past year and a half and performed with him at the JazzReggae Festival, said Le is the type of musician who is able to adapt to any type of musical style.
“I sing in other languages and even though he might not understand, he’s able to pick up on the feeling of the song through his intuition,” Prakash said.
When applying to UCLA, Le said he didn’t want to attend conservatory school, a learning institution that focuses only on music students.
“I love classical music, don’t get me wrong,” Le said. ”Jazz is mostly improvisation and it’s all about interpretation ... so ... I thought ... I could do this as a career.”
Aside from producing his new album and going on tour this summer, Le said he wants to travel the world and play music while trying as many exotic foods as possible. He also said he plans on creating a jazz branch at his parent’s teaching studio, as well as some day opening up his own music and food venue.
“It’s a dream of mine,” Le said. “I want to play music, but I’ve always been a big fan of food ... I want to have a (place) with good food and music every night.”
In control: student creates his own field of study
Garrett Johnson will graduate with a game design and development degree
By Matthew Overstreet, A&E contributor
CHARLIE WANG/daily bruinGarrett Johnson works on independent game creation in the Broad Art Center's Game Lab. His thesis project is developing the game "Ascension," which resembles role-playing games like Final Fantasy Tactics. Johnson plans to work in the game industry after graduating from UCLA.
The dichotomy between the arts and the sciences goes back further than their designation as North and South Campus majors, but for Garrett Johnson, that division isn’t as extreme.
Johnson is one of a select few students graduating this year who will not be receiving a diploma categorized under a predetermined set of majors. Instead, he will be graduating with a major he designed himself: game design and development.
“I’ve always been into math and technical things, but I’ve always liked visuals and the creative side of things as well. ... I tried to incorporate that into my curriculum by creating a major that pinpointed both fields in games,” Johnson said.
To create his major, Johnson said that he had to write a two-page paper for a committee of advisers from the School of the Arts and Architecture, explaining why he thought his chosen field of study was a legitimate academic endeavor and how it would benefit him in pursuing a career in video game design. He then had to put together a series of classes for his curriculum.
Actually getting into the classes he had chosen was more difficult, since Johnson did not have priority as an independent major.
One of the advisers who helped Johnson construct his curriculum was UCLA Game Lab director Eddo Stern, who has since worked closely with Johnson. The Game Lab, located in Broad Art Center, emphasizes independent game creation on campus.
CHARLIE WANG/daily bruinGarrett Johnson's independent game design and development major in the Arts and Architecture department consists of computer science, mathematics and design courses.
Stern said Johnson’s motivation and drive, along with his creativity, have impressed him.
“For me it’s really satisfying to work with students like Garrett who, in a sense ... don’t care about all the kind of residual aspects of teaching that are less important like discipline and grading and timeliness and testing and all that stuff. I think he’s really done well.”
As part of his curriculum, Johnson has been hard at work on his thesis project, a game called “Ascension.” The game, at first glance, is reminiscent of games such as Final Fantasy Tactics, but boasts both an interesting aesthetic and concept. Players control groups of souls from a fallen civilization, unearth artifacts and manipulate terrain in order to hinder opponents.
Johnson’s friends have been supportive of his independent major, encouraging him along his journey.
Fourth-year Design | Media Arts student Joshua Nuernberger, who has known Johnson since his freshman year, said Johnson’s decision to create his own major shows his drive for self-determination.
“I think he’s done something that is very beneficial not only for himself but for other students. (Garrett shows that) while you’re in school you should really push yourself to get what you want out of your classes and that you shouldn’t restrict yourself to course curricula,” said Nuernberger.
After graduation, Johnson said he hopes to find a job in the game industry.
Now at the end of his UCLA career, Johnson has time to reflect on the past four years like many soon-to-be graduates. While some other graduates might be ready to move on, Johnson seems torn between the new life that awaits him and the life he leaves behind.
“I’m kind of disappointed that I’m graduating because it seems like it’s happening too soon,” Johnson said. “I think there’s a lot I can gain from the people in this department, but at the same time a lot of it (would just be) working with people that I know and individual projects to sort of expand my own skill set.”
As a pyrotechnics operator, recent graduate Stephanie Woropay helps put together fireworks displays
By Lenika Cruz, A&E senior staff
courtesy of STEPHANIE WOROPYAY
The temperature hovered just above 50 degrees, and the sky was clear for a San Francisco evening. The Golden Gate Bridge, usually glowing with tiny headlights passing from one end to the other, was completely dark.
Then, at 9:30 p.m., a waterfall of golden light began pouring from the bridge into the water below; minutes later, threads of fire shot up into the night and erupted into glittering halos of red, blue and green.
Stephanie Woropay, who graduated from UCLA as a theater student last December, hung back and watched as her work transfixed shorelines of spectators for the Bridge’s 75th anniversary fireworks show.
Woropay is a pyrotechnics operator—a “pyro” for short—and moments like these remind her why she chose to work with dangerous explosives for a living.
“Everyone was so mad we were closing the bridge for an hour,” she said.
“But when the show went off, everyone was cheering, and that’s what makes it worth it. For one minute, everybody agrees to do one thing, and it’s to look and feel.”
When Woropay first came to UCLA to study theater lighting and design, she said she was mostly interested in concerts, but gradually her curiosity shifted to pyrotechnics, a field she had heard was notoriously difficult to enter.
“I had people go so far as to tell me that my best chance was to be born into a pyro family in my next life,” Woropay said.
Unsure where to start, Woropay sent out dozens of emails to potential mentors.
She was referred to Eric Elias, a UCLA alumnus and pyrotechnic operator-in-charge for the Hollywood Bowl pyro crew.
Until the mid-’90s, men dominated pyrotechnics, but Elias said he was one of the few pyros who actively recruited women.
Woropay immediately joined his crew and began working on shows for Journey, Disney’s Fantasia and, most recently, Coldplay.
“I know (Stephanie) intended to go into the more traditional theater arts,” Elias said.
“(Pyro) is considerably less traditional, but I think she came to appreciate it for what it is. We work long, hard, hot, sweaty hours, but at the end of the night, 18,000 people stand up and applaud.”
To get her pyro license, Woropay needed to be 21, obtain five letters of recommendation from licensed pyros, pass a series of tests and crew eight shows.
When Woropay turned in her application the day after her 21st birthday, not only had she met all the criteria, but she had also logged 38 shows.
Before a show, Woropay is responsible for putting together special racks that hold high-definition polyethylene tubing.
She angles the tubes according to the show’s specifications, loads them with fireworks and wires everything to the main board to ensure continuity between the racks.
Once the show finishes, she and the crew clean up the debris.
John Garofalo, an MFA student in theater lighting who is graduating this spring, said Woropay never relied on a false sense of entitlement that students often have, thinking they can snag a job without working hard.
Woropay first met Garofalo the summer before she started at UCLA, and through him, she landed her first lighting gig in Los Angeles.
They continued to work together on professional and student productions, where Garofalo said he witnessed her tenacity first-hand.
“Almost every single person on the planet underestimates her, but I’ll take her (on my crew) over a 6-foot-tall, super strong, seemingly knowledgeable male electrician any day,” Garofalo said.
Pyro work is physically demanding. Though, at 5 feet 2 inches tall, Woropay might not immediately seem cut out for the job, she said the physicality of theater lighting work prepared her well.
Pyros often face harsh conditions, carrying heavy loads, sometimes working 12-hour days and enduring extreme temperatures.
Once, at a gig in Lancaster, 113-degree dry heat caused Woropay to become dehydrated, forcing her to sit out the rest of the day. On site, pyros need to be alert at all times, which includes paying attention to strange smells—like chemicals or smoke—that could spell danger.
“I wasn’t used to the heat because I’m a Bay Area girl,” Woropay said. “Once you’re a little bit disoriented, it becomes too dangerous to keep working.”
Woropay said she encountered her share of people who doubted her ability to succeed, but in the end, her family, friends and fellow crew always urged her to keep going. Which isn’t hard, she said, considering pyro is the coolest job she could think of.
“I tell people that I do fireworks, because it’s easier for them to understand. It’s easier for my mom to say that than, ‘My daughter works with things that are designed to explode,’” Woropay said, laughing.
As a running joke, Woropay calls her mother while driving home after a gig late at night to assure her that she still has all 10 fingers.
When it comes to special effects, for Woropay, fire—as breathtaking as it can be—is but one element she plans to master.
“Someday,” Woropay said, “I’m going to do water.”
Fourth-year walks the runway, balances activities
On top of an already busy schedule, Matthew Masterson works as a professional model
By Teresa Jue, A&E senior staff
It is a little ironic that Matthew Masterson almost lost his shoe during his first runway walk for the UCLA Fashion and Student Trends’ annual fashion show, considering that the fourth-year political science student is a professional male model.
“As soon as I rounded the corner, my shoe slipped a little bit, and I didn’t test the runway to see what it would feel like,” Masterson said. “I didn’t panic, but I made sure every step I took was really exact and really sure-footed so I wouldn’t slip again. No one noticed but I told myself to just keep walking.”
And Masterson kept walking for UCLA Fashion and Student Trends for four years, joining the club his freshman year with the support of a friend. Masterson said he was nervous about joining something he knew so little about.
“I can safely say that about four and a half years ago, if you had asked me if I would get involved in fashion, I would have said no way,” Masterson said.
It is not to say that Masterson is an amateur on the fashion circuit. Since his freshman year, Masterson has steadily maintained a career as a male model, from walking in shows for New York Fashion Week to shooting editorials for fashion publications such as Vogue Turkey and Women’s Wear Daily.
With the career came the inevitable “Zoolander” comparisons. Masterson’s fraternity brother in Sigma Phi Epsilon and roommate fourth-year theater student Jake Rude said that while many took the opportunity to joke about Masterson’s career, he saw that Masterson had the talent and capability to work hard at it.
ZOE ERSKINE/daily bruinGraduating student Matthew Masterson has been working as a professional male model, walking in shows for New York Fashion Week and appearing in fashion editorials.
“A lot of the frat guys poke fun at him, but it was all in good fun, and he’s very humble about it. I never made fun of him for it because I saw it as a great way to make a living. He’s really good at it,” Rude said.
From holding seven executive positions over the past four years in his fraternity to being the male model director for UCLA Fashion and Student Trends, Masterson immersed himself in multiple clubs across campus. Not only is he one of the founders of the UCLA Board Club, Masterson is also involved in the intramural volleyball, softball and water polo teams.
“There’s no particular reason why I like being involved in so many things other than my interests are very different and very varied. If I’m a part of something, I want to be part of something as much as I possibly can,” Masterson said.
Friend and fourth-year environmental science student Kris Holz, who is one of the founders of the UCLA Board Club with Masterson, said that despite Masterson’s busy schedule, he was crucial in helping the club’s recruitment of new members.
“I think the thing about Matt is that he’s not afraid to pursue something because it might be too hard. He’s just a devoted, outgoing, passionate guy,” Holz said. “I’ve never seen him show a whole lot of stress about anything or fall through on a commitment.”
Adding another job on his already full schedule, Masterson said that it was his outgoing nature, combined with his fashion experience, that led him to be involved in the launch of DormStormer.com, an apparel website discounted and geared specifically to college students. With this opportunity to delve into his entrepreneurial side at UCLA, Masterson started working on the site last January and has since seen the site expand to 20 other campuses.
While Masterson said he never thought he would be involved in fashion before entering UCLA, he will be working full-time for DormStormer.com after graduation and modeling on the side when the opportunity arises.
After wearing so many hats on campus and constantly balancing a packed schedule, Masterson said that all his activities at UCLA have shown him how deep his passions and goals can run, and his life after graduation will only be better because of it.
Extremely Decent produced this film, "The Ex," which won Best Picture at UCLA's 2011 Campus MovieFest.
Sketches inspire laughter
Extremely Decent, run by theater students, produces videos for the college community
By Dan Peel, A&E contributor
HANNAH GUO/daily bruinIan McQuown (center) and his roommates David Crane (left) and Nick Smith (right), all fourth-year theater students, are a part of short-film production company Extremely Decent.
The members of the video production company Extremely Decent adorn their walls with an antler-bearing can of Keystone Light, dual guitars, a large starfish and the plush head of a snow leopard mounted above a mistletoe. These are extensions of their approach to life, with humor residing at its core.
Fourth-year theater students Ian McQuown, David Crane, Jon Eidson and Nick Smith run Extremely Decent in their apartment, creating comedy sketches for their college-age audience. The group, which formed in 2011, also includes Chapman University student Mikey Caro and University of Arizona student Brendan Rice. That same year, Extremely Decent won Best Picture at UCLA’s 2011 Campus MovieFest, the world’s largest student film festival, for their sketch “The Ex.”
Smith said they considered the name “Extremely Decent” among others such as “Confetti Warfare, “War Panda” and “Kitty Stomp.” After collecting reactions from their peers, they decided to use the favored “Extremely Decent.”
Much of their current humor revolves around familiar college scenarios, such as conversations about sexual innuendos, friendships with ex-roommates and lost keys. Smith said their skits randomly break into song, tailoring their comedy for the ADD generation.
In the Extremely Decent sketch “Snow!” characters dress up in snow jackets and scarves, have “snowball fights” with clods of dirt and make “snow angels” while lying on a wilted meadow. The skit ends with the disclaimer: “Happy Holidays. Love, Global Warming.”
The team said they are inspired by such influences as Stephen Colbert, the musical comedy group The Lonely Island, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and communist dictators for their use of absurdity and irony.
Each member of Extremely Decent contributes ideas for their sketches and then acts them out. Caro produces animation overlay, in which cartoons are transposed over video. Smith writes the music and edits the films.
“Because we have so much information coming at us all the time, people are very hard to fool,” McQuown said. “When you do get fooled (by comedy), it’s like Christmas.”
Smith said their sketches last three minutes or less on average, so the humor has to hit audiences much quicker than full-length comedy films. Faced with this short time span, the group uses jokes that the audience would not expect from the onset of the sketch.
“Comedy is a good way to make commentary on ... things that people are too uncomfortable to really talk about,” Crane said. “And if one of our videos makes someone a little bit happier for the day, I think we’ve done a good job.”
For Extremely Decent, McQuown said the creative process entails transforming ideas countless times through discussion and improvisation before settling on a final draft.
“I have masterpiece syndrome,” Smith said. “I can’t show work to people until I’ve edited it for endless hours.”
Smith said their post-graduation approach to humor will continue to reflect the state of their lives, which will likely involve trying to find jobs and paying for Top Ramen.
After spending the summer making sketches, the group plans to move to the Hollywood area and create a character-driven web series. McQuown said the series will be about four guys who live in their apartment and have adventures, such as finding alternate universes beneath the kitchen sink.
“The plan (is) to produce a pilot and a story bible for the entire series arc that explains each episode,” Smith said. “Then we will showcase the series to networks. The hope is to get picked up by a startup production company.”
According to Smith, if their plan does not work out, then the group will continue to build a following through its YouTube channel and website, releasing new episodes each week.
Although Smith said that he could write comedy, act and produce music forever, none of the members are certain where they will end up.
“This is the scariest time to be living ... but don’t be afraid to freak out,” Crane said. “Uncertainty is awesome. Before we know it, we’re going to be 35 ... with mortgages. We have this opportunity to figure everything out. We don’t even have to worry about school anymore.”
Tackling stereotypes through film
Kyle Lau, who recently premiered his first film, challenges cultural boundaries with his work
By Leah Christianson, A&E contributor
courtesy of YUSUKE SATOKyle Lau just finished working on his short film titled "Greener," which explores situations created by racial tension.
In 1982, two men in Detroit lost their jobs because of outsourcing to Japan. Looking for someone to blame, they stumbled upon Vincent Chin, a Chinese American man they had never met. The two men chased Chin around their town with a bat, brutally killing him in the middle of the street while people stood by.
For Kyle Lau, a fourth-year mass communications student, telling Chin’s story was a combination of aligning his professional filmmaking goals with an exploration of his Asian American heritage. Lau wrote, directed and produced a 17-minute dramatic comedy “Greener” to accomplish these goals. While the film is not an exact replica of the events surrounding Chin’s murder, Lau calls the film his interpretation of the hate crime, spiced up with a bit of romance.
“Greener is about a town where ‘East is East’ and ‘West is West.’ East side kids don’t like the West side kids and vice versa. Similar to the Chin murder, the loss of a job is the last spark to ignite the tensions between the two sides of the town,” Lau said.
“My motivation for filmmaking is to transcend the stereotypes I was given (for Asian Americans) growing up ... I hope that ‘Greener’ will be a start to show a different side of minority characters, as it shows Asian Americans in a starring role; they’re not just nerds. Right now I’m focusing on Asian American roles, but in the future I hope to transcend all these stereotypes with my work,” Lau said.
Jeff Bee, who plays the main character Kevin Lin in “Greener,” said that he was drawn to the film because it offered a rare chance for him to star in a leading role.
“This film is about the people. Of course, being Asian American is integral to the premise of the story, but the Asians represented aren’t there because of a certain quirkiness or comedic relief,” Bee said. “We’re there to be a presence in the movie. As an Asian American actor, that’s our goal.”
According to Bee, his character is a fairly normal guy who is thrust into an abnormal situation created by racial tension. Bee said that “Greener” was the most challenging film he had ever performed in and attributed the challenge both to his background in comedy and the cultural boundaries “Greener” tackles.
“Right now in Hollywood, you can’t see an Asian actor on screen without thinking ‘Oh hey, he’s Asian.’ It even takes me by surprise, simply because it’s something you don’t see that often. I think this film is a step in the right direction,” Bee said.
“Greener” has been submitted to film festivals such as Sundance and the Los Angeles Film Festival. Lau said he took pride in being able to make “Greener” in the most professional way, using a RED ONE Camera, casting agencies and a real insurance policy. Steve Rizzo, a stunt double for “The Green Hornet” and “No Country For Old Men,” was the stunt coordinator for the fight scenes in “Greener.”
Lau also said keeping this project in the UCLA family was important to him. The director of cinematography, Yusuke Sato, is a recent UCLA graduate and Lau’s roommate. Sato, who is currently assisting on the television show “Boss,” said that he and Lau have been working on projects together since their freshman year.
“Kyle is very specific about style. Spike Lee is one of his biggest influences, so we looked at a bunch of his films to give this movie a more ‘street’ feel,” Sato said.
Lau said he hopes that this will be the first of many films for him.
“UCLA will be the foundation of my filmmaking. This is where I honed my craft,” Lau said.
Graduate students reinterpret classic movie
Culmination of yearlong seminar uses "Gone with the Wind" to explore issues of race, sex
By Kelsey Rocha, A&E contributor
courtesy of NOLWEN CIFUENTESThe end of the year will mark the finished result of TFT's year-long class that revolved around remaking Gone With the Wind."
Audio from George W. Bush’s speeches was spliced to form the words of Langston Hughes’ poem “Minstrel Man,” which played out into the room of about 40 audience members. While Bush recited the poem, projectors displayed segments of the movie “Gone with the Wind,” mixed with images of African American history, ranging from the Jim Crow laws up until Halle Berry became the first black woman to receive an Oscar.
This multimedia reinvention of the movie “Gone With the Wind” was the culmination of a yearlong graduate seminar at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. The seminar examined pertinent and poignant topics from the film that are still relevant today.
Because of the film’s status as an American favorite, people can overlook the issue of racial misrepresentation and sexist gender roles in the movie, said Anna Creagh, a culture and performance graduate student in the course.
The final production, which had two runs on May 11 and 13, explored such issues and was meant to integrate a variety of different performances and disciplines, said Jeff Burke, one of three professors for the course.
“The remix was a live performance that included remixed elements of the film, of its musical score, of related books and texts and of events in contemporary culture that had related themes,” Burke said.
“The live performance included acting, dancing, music, multimedia, technology and one of our experimental spaces.”
The show was performed in a relatively cozy space, and the intimate setting helped to accomplish the goal of fully immersing the crowd in “Gone with the Wind,” Creagh said.
Students also used a double screen and projectors so that when audience members filed into the performance space, their shadows were incorporated with images from the film.
The total submersion of the audience in the film culture is a reminder that many of the issues in the film from the 1860s are still at large in contemporary society, Creagh said.
“We want them to see the issues that existed at the time and the issues that still persist in our culture that people don’t really want to look at,” said Janell Rohan, a graduate student at the School of Theater, Film and Television.
In fall quarter, classes were devoted entirely to critically analyzing “Gone with the Wind.”
“The point was to draw contemporary parallels and question the status of that film in American history,” Creagh said.
“From my point of view it was a chance to knock the film off its pedestal.”
Creagh, who grew up in North Carolina, said she was accustomed to people revering the film as an accurate depiction of Southern values.
Students also worked to subjectively break down “Gone with the Wind” through the written word, looking to literature that presented different perspectives.
Creagh, alongside fellow graduate student Rohan, drew largely from Alice Randall’s “The Wind Done Gone.”
The book creates a fictitious narrative within “Gone with the Wind” through the eyes of a mulatto slave girl named Cynara, the illegitimate child of Scarlett’s father and the character Mammy.
Laura Karpman, a visiting professor who taught the course, said working closely with such a small, intimate group of students for a whole year was an eye-opening experience to their capabilities.
As one of the student directors, Creagh, who said she thought her main contribution to the project would involve her background in folklore, found herself learning how to use a professional camera and editing programs such as Final Cut Pro.
Similarly, Rohan found herself doing a live performance in the final show despite the fact that she had no acting background.
“It was really fascinating to see students work outside their comfort zones, outside their disciplines and really stretch past what even they thought they could do,” Karpman said.
"The Buffalo Son" is a full-length film Davis and his friends made at the end of high school.
Filmmaker earns a shot with Fox
Colin Davis’ apprenticeship with major network reflects talent and skill on both sides of camera
By Anneta Konstantinides, A&E senior staff
courtesy of COLIN DAVISFourth-year screenwriting student Colin Davis (center) was recently chosen for an apprenticeship by the Fox Network.
The first script Colin Davis ever wrote was in crayon. He was 5, and the movie was called “Run or Die,” a film he made using his family’s video camera about how his family became stranded on an island with dinosaurs, and escaped by building a raft and paddling off into the sunset. Even then, Davis said he remembers channeling his inner-director.
“I remember yelling at my mom like a little prima donna director that the velociraptor costumes she made didn’t look real enough,” he said.
It’s this creativity that Davis, a fourth-year screenwriting student at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, used for his application to “Opportunity Fox,” a six-month long apprenticeship that pairs students with various network division heads.
Davis said the application process involved a number of creative projects meant to reflect the applicant’s personality, including finding five unusual ways to use a brick. One of Davis’ entries was to clothe the brick in a bikini, photographing it for Clayboy magazine.
The call that Davis had moved on to the interview round came in December and with it a first-time experience that was both exciting and nerve-wracking.
“I’m this kid who had never been on a studio lot before, and I was meeting and spending an hour with some of the most powerful people in television. I sat in their office, wide-eyed but also trying to sell myself.”
Davis, who was one of nine students recruited from UCLA, USC and Stanford, in Fox’s long screening process, will be spending a lot more than one hour with the powerful individuals at Fox, where he will shadow Kevin Riley, who is in charge of Fox’s primetime television slate and is credited with bringing “Glee” to the network.
Davis’ talents have already been widely showcased to the UCLA community. His friend Kyle Lau, a fourth-year mass communications student who was a co-director with Davis in Spring Sing’s Company in the 2010 and 2011 years, said Davis was integral to Spring Sing, crediting him for spurring last year’s musical intro and for giving “Club Bcafe” a lot of its humor.
Lau also said he was impressed with Davis’ editing skills, which illustrate Davis’ knack for comedic timing and his trademark use of stock footage. This multi-facetedness is no surprise for Davis’ friend Bobbie Nickel, a fourth-year English student, who said that Davis is full of surprises.
“Colin is very self-motivated and creative. Spring Sing is what everyone on the UCLA campus probably knows him for, but as far as his ideas go he’s a jack-of-all-trades and good at multiple things. He’s the guy behind the camera and in front of it,” she said. Both friends said that Davis knows exactly what he wants and has the self-motivation to do it, a fact that is clear in Davis’ own experience in filmmaking.
“I made a feature coming out of high school with some friends, a full-length movie we did over the summer with a $3,000 budget,” Davis said. “We bought a car and crashed it, guerilla filmmaking from the very beginning. We ended up premiering it at a movie theater off of Sunset Boulevard.”
Davis has taken his talent and energy to a number of outlets in the UCLA community. He’s filmed and moraled in Dance Marathon videos as a member of the Pediatric AIDS Coalition, works as a campus tour guide and was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
The many activities he was involved with at UCLA is one of the things Davis is most grateful for about his experience at the school.
“There was this moment in Powell one day where I was doing work and it was a stressful day, but then I suddenly realized, you’re at UCLA, you’re at one of the greatest places you could be,” he said. “I came here and I got a film education, yes, but I also got a college experience. UCLA has become home, so now I’m packing up and leaving home.”
For now, Davis said he is excited to soak up everything around him after graduation, as long as he gets to continue stretching his creative energies.
“We’re film students, we’re expecting to be starving artists when we graduate,” he said. “So to have something that would still allow me to be creative and live the life that I want to live is the best of both worlds.”