Two recent grads are helping make movies in Pittsburgh
Editor's Note: The Winter 2010 issue of The Point magazine features a cover story on how Point Park alumni, faculty and students are helping to boost Pittsburgh's burgeoning movie and television industry. Below are profiles of two recent graduates who are part of that growth.
Even before students leave Point Park’s cinema and digital arts program, their teachers became colleagues, says Kevin Kauffman (COPA 2009). The young director, producer and editor says he felt respected by his professors and knew he would be able to turn to them for advice after graduation. And he has. “They’re always there for you, ready to help.”
The 23-year-old is currently in post-production for his first feature length documentary, Todd vs. High School , scheduled for release in late 2010. He got involved in the project shortly after graduation when a Point Park faculty member recommended him to shoot a soccer match. He later learned the work was for the documentary about a former ESPN writer, 33-year-old Todd Gallagher, who returns to high school in Pittsburgh.
Kauffman eventually moved into directing, producing and editing the documentary. He calls the project “an exciting opportunity.” He is working on Todd vs. High School in Pittsburgh and remains connected to the University and other film work here.
“Point Park has an important role in Pittsburgh’s film industry,” he says, noting that students and recent alums benefit from opportunities to work on a wide variety of projects. “Students get to learn the roles of production assistants in various departments, for instance, and see how things work up close. That’s immensely valuable.”
Kauffman credits the hands-on approach to learning along with small class sizes and state-of-the-art equipment as highlights of Point Park’s program. “The availability of resources and opportunities are so valuable to your growth as a filmmaker, and Point Park provides them,” he told potential students when he was a student himself.
A Production 3 class opened doors to yet another opportunity, he says. In summer 2008, Kauffman submitted his editing on a team project to Real Ideas Studio and was accepted to have work screened at the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France. At Least They Could Warn Us, a short edited by Kauffman and directed by Dave Hall, was one of the films screened. Other work, including A Movement In D Minor, directed by Hall and in which Kauffman served as cinematographer, was featured in a Los Angeles film festival. A 2006 short he wrote and directed, Y2K, was screened at a Pittsburgh film festival.
His experience on feature films includes serving as a production assistant on Bridge to Nowhere, the 2009 release directed by Blair Underwood and filmed in Pittsburgh by Smithfield Street Productions. He also served as a production assistant on a Sony Pictures project.
Working with Bill Paladino and other Point Park cinema program grads, he helped produce corporate videos for UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh and direct music videos for Wiz Khalifa, Donora and Formula 412 before his current project.
Just three years out of college, Beverly Cole has already turned down work. This year the 2007 graduate of Point Park’s cinema program said ‘no’ to opportunities in other cities to complete crew work on a feature film in Pittsburgh.
Cole spent much of her time since graduation working in New York City but returned to her home state in spring 2010 when she was hired as production secretary for One for the Money, a comedy thriller filmed in Pittsburgh neighborhoods and Ambridge, Pa. The feature film stars Katherine Heigl and will be released in summer 2011.
Cole worked in the film’s office, “the hub that everyone comes through,” and prepared crew lists, worked with vendors, helped handle key paperwork and responded to requests from every department. She was involved in everything from pre-production to closing the office after the movie wrapped.
Cole previously worked for two years on movie and television projects in New York, including most recently serving as production secretary for Sex and the City 2. On that job and on others, she saw her duties increase as the film progressed. “When people realize that they can depend upon you, they’ll give you more things to do.”
The Sex and the City 2 role lasted from June 2009 through February 2010. A year earlier she served as production secretary on the Columbia Pictures feature film Salt. In late 2008 through early 2009, she worked at ABC Studios East on Cupid, first as an office production assistant, or “office PA” as the entry-level position is called, then production secretary.
Cole worked in reality television in 2008, first serving as an office PA for both Without a Trace and Project Runway 5, and later as a key field PA for Make Me a Supermodel 2.
She moved to New York after graduating in 2007 and first worked on an independent film. The Williamsport, Pa., native moved back to Pittsburgh to be an office PA on She’s Out of My League, the Dreamworks feature film shot here in 2008. She says Point Park recommended her for the role.
Point Park Connections
The summer before her senior year, Cole interned at Mosaic Media, the Los Angeles-based production company founded by Point Park alumnus Jimmy Miller (COM 1980).
“Point Park put me in contact with a lot of people and helped me set up many connections,” says Cole. She says she values not only the professional contacts the University has provided but also the strong technical education she received as a student.
“Point Park offers a great foundation,” says the 23-year-old, who graduated summa cum laude. “In addition, being located in Pittsburgh, the University is well situated as the region’s film industry continues to grow.”
Text by Colleen Derda
Photo of Kauffman by Martha Rial
Photo of Cole by Jim Judkis
The Point is a magazine for alumni and friends of Point Park University.