Taylor goes to Hollywood

Students talk about life in the TUHIP program

By David Seaman | Echo

Seniors Jon Wormgoor and Austin Kight, along with junior Nick Chamberlain, make up the TUHIP program for this semester.

Seniors Jon Wormgoor and Austin Kight, along with junior Nick Chamberlain, make up the TUHIP program for this semester (Photograph by Alan Smithee).

The Media Communication Department’s Taylor University Hollywood Internship Program is given to students interested in cinematography, marketing, screenwriting, production and more. Based in Los Angeles, the program (TUHIP for short) provides an opportunity to interact with fellow Christians in Hollywood and become connected with networking opportunities.

In its second pilot year, TUHIP has exceeded all expectations and will apply to become an official semester program in the spring. Program coordinator and ’95 Taylor grad Cassie Boyd Baker mentored four Taylor students in last year’s pilot program. After successfully interning with cinematography and film institutes, editing independent documentaries, meeting with Warner Bros. executives and talking with stars such as Tony Hale from “Arrested Development,” the students came back with impressive recommendations.

The Echo interviewed the three students currently in the program. They are junior film and media production major Nick Chamberlain, senior public relations major Austin Kight and senior film and media production major Jonathan Wormgoor. The following is an edited conversation done through Skype.

 Echo: Where are you staying in L.A.?

Jonathan: We’re housed in Providence Christian College, a private school in the middle of Pasadena, Calif. It is part of a larger college campus called William Carey International University, which went entirely online a couple years back but still has a campus. We are part of the student community here at Providence and are staying in dorms. We interact with the students here all the time and are on their meal plan. 

Echo: What internships are each of you involved with?

Nick: I am interning under Yuri Neyman. He started two companies, one of which is Global Cinematography Institute, an institute that looks to further acknowledge traditional cinematography as well as virtual and expanded cinematography. The other company is Gamma & Density Co., which is a post-production company.

Austin: I’m interning at Fox Networks. I am with their distribution marketing department, which handles the sales and marketing aspects of the network. We negotiate deals with MLB, NFL, Fox Sports and others, finding (older) content for shows. How many views we get is how much commercial revenue we receive.

Jonathan: I’m working at AbelCine, which is a camera rental and sales company in Burbank. I help truck the equipment and set it up. We work for Fox and other companies; they come in, see how it works, see if they need it and take it out to the field.

Echo: TUHIP has been heavily influenced by Taylor grads. Have you interacted with any alumni so far?

Jonathan: We’ve interacted with a few. We met with Josh Guiliano (’12) and Jonathan Friday (’10). Cassie Baker (TUHIP’s program coordinator) has kept us in contact with alumni. That is all we have met so far, but by the end of the semester we will have met with many more. I interacted with Eric Nystrom (’12), who is a lighting technician at Birns & Sawyer. 

Echo: What has been the best experience so far?

Nick: Definitely meeting Seamus McGarvey for me. He was the cinematographer for “The Avengers.” I talked 15 to 20 minutes with him, real nice guy. He gave me a belt that will be in the new Godzilla movie (out next year) as a thank-you for me delivering stuff to him.

Austin: I got to screen all the new shows Fox and FX will be putting out next fall, summer and spring. There are big changes coming up that I can’t really talk about, but they are revamping a lot of shows. I also met James Murdoch (Deputy Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation). Nick and I were also on the set on SportsNation, which was a blast.

Jonathan: Not nearly as cool as these other two guys, but I get to work with the top four cameras that are circulating throughout the industry right now. Two are the new RED Epics. I get to work with hundreds of thousands of camera equipment parts everyday.

Echo: What is L.A. like?

Austin: L.A. has been really fun so far. It’s a (much) different culture over here than (in) Indiana and what I’ve experienced in Chicago and New York. It doesn’t stop when you go downtown—it stretches coast to inland . . . just everyone seems super busy. It’s funny talking to people here because everyone’s trying to be an actor or a screenwriter or something in the industry. It’s weird when you go out to dinner and your waitress is trying to be an actor. Everyone seems like they’re trying to make it. We’re also in the mountains and can be at the beach in 45 minutes, so that’s great.

Jonathan: It’s definitely very busy. You hear a lot of negatives about L.A., but that’s not entirely fair. One thing is the traffic: It’s on both sides of the highway. It’s like one really big suburb . . . with Pasadena and Burbank and North Hollywood and the rest. It was overwhelming when we first got here but also very active. You’re constantly moving and always doing something. 

Echo: Is there a Christian culture in the city?

Nick: A lot of the contacts Cassie sets us up with are Christians. Some of them have told us what it’s like to be a Christian in Hollywood.

Jonathan: I think a large majority of the Christians that are out here realize that they’re not here to make the next great Christian film. They want to influence the people around them. They’re artists . . . who express themselves and what they believe and feel, but they may not be a person that will lead the next great revival. They’re not shy, they are very outgoing, but they are also not walking onto a set and telling people to repent. The real Christians here are the ones influencing people around them. I don’t feel oppressed out here. I don’t feel like we’re running into a Christian on every corner, however.

Nick: People are saying to us, “You don’t make a Christian movie, you make a movie with general Christian themes.”

Echo: When will you all head back to Taylor?

Nick: December 6.

Austin: Yeah, on December 6.

Jonathan: If everything works out I will be staying in L.A. (Jon is graduating in December.)

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