Preparing for the real world
By Sahan Jayawardena
My semester in Los Angeles has been my favorite SU experience thus far. Growing up in Iowa and studying film on the East Coast, I didn’t really understand the inner-workings of “Hollywood”. Granted, nobody really does until you’re thrown right in the heart of it. Luckily for me, that’s exactly what the SULA semester provided me with: an opportunity to understand the pulse of the film industry.
A quick word of advice for any film student that’s thinking about doing the SULA semester: come with an idea or a project that you’re willing to develop throughout the semester. I was lucky enough to come to LA with a documentary project already in development and was able to use my internship and my classes to work on it. Every single professor that I talked to was more than willing to help my friend and I develop our documentary project at an industry standard level and helped cater their curriculum to our needs. My bosses at my internship and the professors at SULA helped my friend and I develop a full budget for a feature length documentary, apply for fiscal sponsorship through the International Documentary Association, purchase the story rights for our project and connect us with private investors. It’s been a whirlwind of a journey so far and I’m incredibly excited to keep going.
One other thing that I’ve noticed while being out here is how incredibly large the Syracuse Alumni network is. Almost everybody that I’ve been in contact with out here knows someone in the industry who graduated from Syracuse. While I was at the American Film Market in Santa Monica for my internship with IM Global, I met the head of International Sales from the New York branch who was a Syracuse alum. Having that in common helped me connect with him and develop a relationship.
So far my experience at SULA has been very beneficial for my academics and my career and I highly recommend it to anyone who is seriously interested in film.