What did I do over J-Term?
Oh, I just met Conan O’Brien and Eric Lange (Sikowitz from “Victorious”) and was in the audience at “The Late Late Show With James Corden” and was on “NFL Total Access” and got a private tour of the FOX Studios lot.
No big deal.
Just kidding. It is a huge deal, and I will be talking about it for the rest of my life.
Last semester, I got accepted to Inside Hollywood, a study away program through Miami University’s Media, Journalism, and Film Department. The program has been around since 2013 and has been giving students an inside look at the entertainment industry ever since.
Because of COVID-19, everyone going on the trip knew our visits around Los Angeles would be limited. We knew we wouldn’t be able to see any filming sets, and we knew we wouldn’t be able to shadow any professionals.
But I don’t think any of us knew how life-changing the trip would be.
And the famous people I met and the shows attended weren’t even the best parts.
Before the trip, I had a panic attack — I wanted so badly to not get on my cross-country flight that I said to myself I would just stay in Ohio, forfeit the trip entirely.
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I hate planes, OK? How does a hunk of metal stay suspended in the air??
Luckily, someone I love convinced me (by showing me an explanatory video of airplane science) that it would be incredibly stupid to miss out on the trip because of my fear of flying, so off I went. I took Spirit Airlines and luckily made it in one piece.
I got there late on Dec. 30, so my first real day in LA was New Year’s Eve — quite a fun day to be in the big city. But because it was the first time I was spending New Year’s Eve outside of Ohio and away from my family, I began to worry about the relationships of the trip: What if I didn’t make any friends? What if I was so painfully awkward nobody wanted to be around me?
It’s true what everyone told me before I left: those 15 people became my family in California.
We had two weeks in the big city and a packed itinerary. The first week we mostly met with industry professionals in our apartment clubhouse. We met with a variety of alumni (and other talented, non-alumni) from music, film, TV, post-production — you name it, we learned about it. We met with recent graduates and veterans of the industry.
Every single person had incredible insights for us, not just about their work, but about how to make it in a new, big, scary city. And I will forever be grateful for the time they gave us and the relationships I made with them.
One thing kept coming up in our sessions, something I had never thought of as an advantage: the “midwestern work ethic.” What that means, I am not exactly sure. But I do know that as an Ohio native of 22 years, I probably possess some of those skills.
The Saturday of the first week, we met with three individuals who work on sets as production assistants and assistant directors. What was supposed to just be a session about troubleshooting and problem-solving on set turned out to be one of the most impactful conversations I have ever had in my life.
I knew, after that short session, what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I knew, after that short session, that I wanted to be an assistant director.
I knew, after that short session, that I wanted to move to LA, at least for a little bit.
That talk set me on the path to becoming an assistant director. Before that session, I knew I wanted to be involved in “production,” but what does that mean? That encompasses so many jobs; the talk introduced me to a position I didn’t know existed, and it’s a position perfect for me and my skill set. The weight of the unknown lifted off my shoulders.
I hope those three individuals know how much they changed my life.
I also went to my first mixer, with a bunch of alumni, which was a great way to learn networking (ew) and meet new, cool people (not ew, actually very fun).
The rest of the trip flew by, but everything in the second week was still exciting and insightful. We went on tours to Paramount and Warner Brothers Studios (where I got to sit on the “Friends” couch, which I will talk about every single change I get — yes, I love “Friends”). We went to Netflix Feature Animation and Netflix Productions. We got to watch the taping of “The Late Late Show With James Corden.” We got to go to an LA Kings game and sit in a private, fancy VIP box. We got to meet Conan O’Brien. We got to tour the NFL Network and be on actual TV.
A packed final week. And a bittersweet end.
As my Instagram post said, that was only season one.