Class of 2007
Co-founder of High Council, a film marketing firm, and The Beacon, a new movie theater in Seattle
Favorite movie of all time:
The Passion of Joan of Arc
What led you to study film at UW?
I grew up on Roosevelt Way, so UW campus and the U-District have always felt like home to me. My parents moved here from New Jersey, so my mom could go to grad school at UW in 1980. Ever since, the UW lived in our minds as an almost sacred place where you could transform your mind and your life.
After graduating from UW, you worked at Criterion Collection in New York City. How did you land that job, and what was the focus of your work there?
I’ve lived a charmed professional life. The Criterion thing worked out, essentially, from me begging them over and over until they finally relented. I had sent them my resume a handful of times since I was in high school and, eventually, they needed a marketing intern, which was my primary focus for the six years I worked there. I have to give a shout out to the Criterion brass, Peter Becker and Jonathan Turrell. Those guys let me figure out who I was as a creative and a worker, all with their brand on the line. It was a real gift for a 20-something, one that I’ve been trying to pay forward ever since.
After Criterion, you returned to Seattle and created a film marketing company called High Council. Tell us about the company and the kinds of projects that you’re working on.
Yes! I’ve been doing online marketing for feature films in various capacities since the Criterion days. We’re a full-service creative agency for indie movies and we’ve been lucky enough to work on a bunch of great titles.
And now you’ve opened a new movie theater in Columbia City, The Beacon. The biggest challenge so far? What makes it different from other theaters in Seattle?
The biggest challenge so far has been getting the place off the ground, getting the liquor license, dealing with the city and state bureaucracy, etc.
In terms of what makes it different from other theaters, we’ve tried hard to carve out our niche in the Seattle film world and not step on anybody’s toes. We like to think we’re heavier on the repertory titles than the other (great) theaters in Seattle.
Film studies at UW isn’t keyed to specific jobs in the film industry, and yet you’ve already worked in several different areas, including film preservation, distribution, marketing, and exhibition. How do you see the relationship between your studies and your work?
UW gave me a strong foundation and structure to my understanding of film history. The CMS program and the great professors I had there helped me become a more active viewer and taught me how to watch things critically, skills that I use nearly every day. But the degree itself was a jumping-off point, what I needed in order to get to the next step – especially in a town with as few film jobs as Seattle has. If working in movies is something you really want to do, you have to get creative.
Any advice for new CMS majors?
Don’t make up your mind about anything. It’s fun to act like you are part of some secret smart-person club because you’ve seen three Godard movies, but it turns you into a bit of a jerk and doesn’t make you any smarter or happier. Watch everything, read about everything, keep an open mind, and keep going. If you don’t like it, do something else.