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Writer/Director of Oscar-Winner, Whiplash Visits TCNJ

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The opportunity to meet the director and writer of an Oscar-winning film is a rare one, unless you live in Hollywood — or go to The College of New Jersey.

On Monday, March 28, Damien Chazelle, the director and writer of the 2015 Academy Award best picture nominee “Whiplash,” came to the College for a screening of the film, as well as a question and answer session with students.

“Whiplash,” which stars Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, tells the story of a young jazz drummer and his experience as the new student in a class led by a tyrannical instructor who uses unorthodox and abusive methods of teaching. The film won three Oscars, including best supporting actor, best sound mixing and best editing, and received five nominations including best writing (adapted screenplay)

At the session following the screening, Chazelle spoke about his early career, when he would write and sell scripts to pay the bills.

“The only thing I could get people to pay me to write were sequels (or) horror movies,” Chazelle said.

But when he wasn’t writing to survive, Chazelle spent his spare time writing the kind of material that he enjoyed.

“This was just stuff I wanted to guard for the miraculous day in the future when I’d get to actually make it, and one of those things was ‘Whiplash,’” Chazelle said.

The path “Whiplash” took to get to the big screen was a bit circuitous. Before being made into a feature-length film, it was made into a short-film that premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

“The first iteration of (‘Whiplash’) was a feature-length script that I wrote and was basically the movie that you saw,” Chazelle said, “But no one in Hollywood really wanted to make it, or at least didn’t want to let me make it, so we made a short as a way of a sales tool.”

Chazelle attributes Hollywood’s hesitation to two factors.

“They didn’t trust me as a director because I hadn’t really done anything and I’m young,” Chazelle said. “And they didn’t trust the idea that a movie about jazz drumming, of all things, could be at all exciting.”

One thing that helped get the short off the ground was having well-known actor Simmons play the lead role as music teacher, Terrence Fletcher.

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“One of the producers was friends with J.K. and had worked with him and said, ‘What do you think about J.K. Simmons? I might be able to get him to do a favor for us and do the short.’”

Chazelle laughed as he told students at the College that he was excited to have an actor that he could recognize.

Simmons went on to win the Academy Award for best actor in a supporting role for his performance in “Whiplash,” but Chazelle admitted that at first he didn’t think Simmons would be right for the role.

“He felt not scary enough to me, and I felt like I had seen him too many times as the insurance commercial guy,” Chazelle said. “He was J. Jonah Jameson, Juno’s dad. I thought he would turn everything into pure comedy.”

Chazelle’s mind changed the very first moment of shooting the short, when Simmons’s character started screaming.

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“I thought, not only is he right for the role, but no one else can do this role,” Chazelle said. “It has to be him.”

Chazelle told students that he considers “Whiplash” to be the most personal thing he’s ever written. Back in high school, he, too, was in a jazz band taught by a tyrannical teacher.

“It was weirdly easy to write because it was either stuff that happened to me or stuff that happened to people I knew,” Chazelle said. “I was in a program where failure on stage, in front of an audience, was worse than death — like being in a battle and shooting your friend.”

After the question and answer session, Chazelle spent time taking selfies with students and answering their questions one-on-one.

Freshman communication studies major Tyler Law had the chance to tell Chazelle about a video-essay he had made about “Whiplash” for class, and much to the excitement of both parties, Chazelle told Law to send him the video.

“I was genuinely surprised he asked me to see it,” Law said. “I just hope he enjoys watching it as much as I enjoyed making it.”

Senior psychology and communication studies double major Adam Oppenheimer greatly appreciated the time he spent talking to Chazelle, as well.

“I got to talk with him one-on-one and he gave me great advice on getting started in the business,” Oppenheimer said. “Chazelle was a great guy who came across as humble and genuine and knowledgeable about filmmaking.”

Before making “Whiplash,” Chazelle had been trying to make a bigger movie, called “La La Land,” which, again, Hollywood was not interested in making. That all changed following the success of “Whiplash.”

“After ‘Whiplash’ came out, people who said no before suddenly went ‘Oh, sure, we want to make that now,’” Chazelle said. “It’s like becoming popular in high school — you don’t really change, it’s just that the reaction of the people around you changes.”

“La La Land,” which stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, hits theaters in December 2016.

Enjoyed this event recap?  Where you there? Share your thoughts!
Comment below or contact me on Twitter

Recent TCNJ Graduate Discusses Her Job In The Television Industry, Gives Crucial Tips

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Jaqueline Ilkowitz (right) with co-workers.

 

After graduating from The College of New Jersey in May 2015, Communication Studies major/Interactive Multimedia minor, and former executive station manager of Lions Television, Jaqueline Ilkowitz, landed a pretty awesome job at a pretty well-known company.

I reached out to her and she happily answered my questions.

You work at Comedy Central! What do you do there?

I’m a production coordinator on the Multiplatform Content Strategy team at Comedy Central! This means working on different shows (like Inside Amy Schumer, Key & Peele, Tosh.0, Workaholics) and turning them into an experience for people on different platforms and sites. This involves anything from helping run their social media accounts to creating online-only content for the shows or figuring out what the funniest GIF or meme is going to be in the episode so we can generate social buzz around the show when it airs!

How did you land that job?

I interned in the same department I work in now! When I graduated, I reached out to my former boss and he said that they have a position open and asked if I’d be interested in interviewing for the position.

Coolest Perks? 

It’s really fun to watch comedy shows all day! It’s also fun to work with the people who create the shows to figure out how their show is going to look on all these different apps and platforms (digital is the future of TV!)

You’ve had some pretty impressive internships. What were they and which was your favorite?

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My first internship was at a small beauty PR firm where I learned how to draft press releases and talk to clients. Then I interned at WPST creating commercials, and helping out in the promotions department. Then I interned at Comedy Central and my final internship was at CNN/HLN in their programming department.

For me, Comedy Central was the most fun but I learned very important and valuable lessons from all of my internships!

 

Follow up to that: Can you walk me through the application process from sending in the application to actually getting hired?

I got my beauty PR internship through a family friend so I sent over my resume and spoke to an account executive and a manager and started the following week. I applied through WPST through an online application and an in-person interview. I applied to my Comedy Central and CNN internships online through the Viacom + Turner websites and went through multiple phone/skype/in-person interviews until I finally heard back. Those internships have a lot more applicants so often you’ll have to talk to HR so they can place you in a department that you best fit, and then you interview with those specific departments.

Have you experienced (or have you been aware of) any cons of working in the broadcasting industry? Any Pros? (I certainly hope so!)

It can be a lot of fun but it’s also a lot of hard work and very fast paced. Working on the multiplatform side of it, you learn just how quickly things can change and you have to try to stay on top of topical news so you don’t miss an opportunity.

It can also be hard to get your foot in the door, most people get their jobs through references from people from other places so you just have to be persistent and nice to people!

Which TCNJ classes do you think benefitted you the most in regards to your industry? (This can mean experience/qualifications you’ve gained)

All of my COM classes were certainly helpful in learning about the TV industry and how everything comes together on the TV side. My IMM classes were crucial to me getting my internship in this department in the first place, when I was being interviewed, my interviewers were very impressed with everything I learned in my classes and my ability to combine both the digital and tv sides of the industry.

Any tips on securing an internship?

Do your research before going into an interview!! Also- do something you’re genuinely interested in, it’s a lot more fun when you have passion for the work you’re doing!

Any tips for a college student trying to break into the broadcasting industry?

Internships are CRUCIAL. You learn a lot in the classroom, but you learn the industry by being a part of it.

Any other knowledge you’d like to pass on to the people of the internet?

Love the internet! Keep up the good work with the cat videos, internet.

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CNN – A Company Profile

 

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CNN, the Cable News Network, has been one of the world’s leading news networks since its launch on June 1, 1980.

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The New York Times, Monday, June 2, 1980

Founded by media mogul, Ted Turner, CNN was the world’s first television channel to provide 24-hour news coverage. Headquartered in     Atlanta, Georgia, CNN has 36 bureaus—10 domestic and 26 international—and more than 900 affiliated stations. According to the February 2015 Nielsen U.S. cable channel coverage estimates, the Cable News Network is available to 96,289,000 households.

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Ted Turner at the CNN launch in 1980.

 

With glassdoor reviews like “Family-like environment” and an overall rating that beats out strong competitors such as MSNBC, CNN is attractive to employees in the industry for reasons that go beyond a leading news reputation.

According to job review site, indeed.com, CNN has a 4 out of 5 rating in the category of “Work/Life Balance.”  For people who work in the crazy fast-paced never-stopping news industry, being able to have a good work/life balance can be just as attractive as a network’s Nielsen ratings. With crazy work hours and always being on the move, it’s sadly common to hear of industry employees missing important family events like weddings, births, birthdays and even the chance to find a significant other. But the fact that CNN has positive ratings in this category is reassuring and commendable.

According to a 2015 Cosmopolitan interview with Lisa Greene, Vice President of Human Resources for CNN Worldwide, “hiring is a nearly constant activity as the work evolves.” Between their full-time and freelance staff, CNN has approximately 3,500 employees around the world. CNN  also has a paid internship program, regularly hiring students who have completed their sophomore year in college prior to the start o the internship, and are seeking a degree (undergrad or graduate) at the start of the internship.

Greene says that with CNN’s culture “rooted in employees’ passion for the news, the desire to tell the story, and the love of the brand,” it’s required for anyone seeking a job at CNN to have a strong understanding of current events.

An Atlanta-based CNN Freelance Field Producer wrote a review on indeed.com in 2015 and said “A typical day at work is that it will be atypical. CNN is a 24/7 news company which means your schedule as a curator or writer of news is likely to change at any given moment. It’s an element of the job that is somewhat expected but can wear one out after a while.”

Have you worked at CNN and have something to add?
Comment below or contact me on Twitter

Welcome to the Era of VR!

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VR (virtual reality) is making a comeback, and it’s coming back more advanced than ever before.

But before we get into that, what is it making a comeback from?

The first time I had been exposed to VR was in 2002, with the Spider-Man VR3D Virtual Reality Helmet. (The objective was to sling webs and capture the Green Goblin.)
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However, VR has been around waaaaaaay before ‘02.

According to vrs.org.uk, there have been virtual reality concepts dating back to the 1800s with “Stereoscopic  photos and viewers, the design principles of which have been used today for ‘Google Cardboard.’

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In 1960 Morton Heilig created the first VR Head Mounted Display.
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1991 saw the start of Virtual Reality group arcade machines

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1993 had Sega’s VR glasses and in 1995 there was the Nintendo Virtual Boy.

Leading the virtual reality industry of today is a company called Oculus, and at the innovation forefront is their virtual reality helmet, Oculus Rift (pictured at the very top),  which was announced in 2012 and just started shipping out this month. (The 23-year-old Oculus Founder, Palmer Luckey just flew out to Anchorage, Alaska where he hand-delivered an Oculus Rift to the very first person to press the pre-order button. 

Samsung just had a promotion wherein if you pre-ordered the new Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge phone, you got a free Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus. Gear VR is  a smaller more affordable version of the Rift ($99 vs $599), to be used in conjunction with your smartphone. I myself took advantage of this promotion and my Gear VR is on its way!

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Six Flags theme park also jumped on the opportunity to be part of the new era in technology with their Virtual Reality roller coaster, New Revolution, where riders of the coaster where a Gear VR equipped with Samsung Galaxy phones.

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Popular video streaming services like Hulu and Netflix (VR n Chill?) have jumped on the band wagon as well with Gear VR apps offering a mix of 360-degree videos along with more traditional TV shows and movies to watch using Samsung’s headset.hulu-gear-vr-3

In 2014, Google came out with a cardboard VR/AR (augmented reality) viewer called Google Cardboard.

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In a Sunday edition of The New York Times magazine, NYT included cardboards to be used with the New York Times VR app, which includes 360˚ videos, such as one that puts you right in the middle of a Paris candlelit vigil in the wake of the 2015 terror attack.

In a June 2015 article in Gizmag, Will Shanklin wrote “If VR hits the right notes with consumers, it could become the teleporting machine that sci-fi has been fantasizing about for decades.”

Gizmag also listed 8 ways VR could be used change the world, which included “making exercise machines fun” and the fact that “Governments, businesses, and militaries could use VR to better prepare people for their jobs.”

Shanklin wrote “VR’s ability to transport you is only limited by the imaginations of the people creating content.”

*Perfect way to segway into the topic of VR porn!*

Adult site, Pornhub has partnered with VR porn store BaDoink to offer more realistic videos, something which CNET believes could be a technological game changer, as it notes that Americans’ love for XXX entertainment fueled the early adoption of VHS players in the 1980s and cable television in the 1990s.

But apart from really cool gaming, and really sexy video-watching, why is this new medium so revolutionary?

VR could change potentially make the world a much better place.

Chris Milk, CEO of leading virtual reality technology company, VRSE, gave a TEDTalk in Vancouver, BC, in March 2015 in which he spoke about how he’s using this new medium of technology to create ‘the ultimate empathy machine’, to ultimately make humans more ‘human.’

In conjunction with VRSE and the United Nations, Milk went to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan and shot a story of a 12-year-old girl named Sidra, using a 360˚ camera.
“We showed it to a group of people whose decisions affect the lives of millions of people,” said Milk, who believes that in doing so, he can lead them to make decisions which will make lives better.

Milk is now working with the United Nations to create a whole series of films, just like the one he shot in Jordan. “It connects humans to other humans in a profound way that I’ve never seen before in any other form of media” said Milk.

With all the above said,  could the use of VR headsets be dangerous?

Dailymail wrote, “The makers of the new generation of virtual reality headsets have warned that users could hurt themselves or become the victims of theft whilst they are using the devices.”

While the potential of VR is limitless VR is currently limited, but that’s because it’s just the beginning. Give it time and lend it trust and you might just find yourself entering  “the era of VR.”

How do YOU feel about VR? Skeptical? Excited?
Leave a comment below or send me a tweet and let me know!

 

How YOU Can Be A Broadcaster Using Your Smartphone – A HowTo Video

In this short video I talk about broadcasting through Snapchat, Vine, Twitter, Fling, Periscope, and YouTube, all of which are FREE apps available on both Android and iOS.

I even include some examples of broadcast professionals using these apps to do their job! 
How To Be A Broadcaster Using Your Smartphone

5 Important Tips From Broadcast News Professionals

Trying to enter the competitive field of broadcasting and looking for a one-up? Well you’ve certainly come to the right post! After all, knowledge is power!
Each tip listed here comes from a different lecture given at The College of New Jersey.

1. “The industry is always evolving, but the one constant seems to be that they keep asking you to do more with less and as one person” – Lauren Wanko, Correspondent, NJTV News.

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Lauren Wanko @LaurenWankoNJTV

Nowadays, if you want to become an anchor, you should be as knowledgeable and experienced behind the camera as you are in front of it. Take an editing class! Know how to be a “one-person band!”

2. “It takes 25 years to build your reputation and 25 seconds to wreck it.” – Dianne Doctor, Vice President/Station manager, WWOR TV. @diannedoctor

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Brian Williams

There was an article published in the New York Times (http://nyti.ms/1ETY563) about how Brian Williams, former anchor of NBC Nightly News ranked as the 23rd-most-trusted person in the country, before he apologized for exaggerating an account of a forced helicopter landing during the Iraq war. A week after apologizing, he ranked no. 835.

3. This is an industry that is unforgiving for people who can’t balance life and professionalism.” – Bob Mauro, Former CBS Vice President of Network Operations.

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Bob Mauro

 

At any moment you can get a call from your station telling you to high-tail it over there. Next thing you know, you’re driving at 3:34am soon to be devouring a pot of coffee and planning your coverage.

4. “Follow the ABCs of writing for broadcasting.” – Neal Slotkin, Senior Producer at Comcast SportsNet.

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Neal Slotkin @NSlotkin10

Accuracy – Be truthful! Double-check your facts!
Brevity – Be short. Be brief. Try to tell your story in as few words as possible.
Clarity – Is your story clear and understandable? Does it have a beginning, middle and end? People shouldn’t be guessing at what you were trying to say.

5. If you are writing for time, it’s three words a second. If you want your script to be twenty seconds, write sixty words.” – Steve Stone, Video Editor at WPIX11

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Steve Stone

‘Nuff said.

Bonus Tip: “Intern! Intern! Intern!” – Every Industry Professional Ever.

It will only get harder from here on out, but hopefully these 5 tips will help make things easier!

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