Alumni in Film and Television Industry Appear in Panel Discussion

Members of the community gathered in the faculty room on April 5 to talk with alumni Claire Brooks ’07, Carla Frankenbach ’12, Kip Kroeger ’00, and Taylor Materne ’99. After graduating from the school, these producers and writers moved onto the film industry to contribute to well-known productions such as Despicable Me 2, Shameless, Ted Lasso, and The Longest Week.

Hotchkiss in Hollywood: Finding Work in the Film and TV Industry, was conceived to  help the community learn more about these alumni and their careers in the entertainment industry. Mr. David Thompson, director of international programs, organized the event with the help of film club co-heads Margie Bowen ’22 and Harry Morelli ’23, who moderated the panel. Students and faculty interested in film and media attended the conversation in the Faculty Room. Several recent graduates, some majoring in film, joined via Zoom. 

Throughout the conversation, the panelists shared stories about challenges in Hollywood, instability in the industry, and how they found balance in their personal and professional lives. Specifically, Brooks spoke about how she schedules vacations at the end of long, hard projects  to maintain stability and regroup before her next project. Boffi Lin ’24 said, “I took away a lot from [the event] because I think it’s applicable in a lot of different industries, and their wisdom was very valuable.”

One point the panelists raised underscored different paths students can take into their adulthood careers. Neither Kroeger nor Materne anticipated careers in the film industry during their time at the school, but both eventually found their places in the industry after starting as interns, whereas Brooks and Frankenbach attended Columbia and USC film school, respectively. All four of them have worked in various roles and navigated different challenges and trials before finding work as producers and writers. Lin said, “I thought it was very comforting to hear [that] no matter how early or late you discover your passion, there’s still time and endless opportunities to pursue it.” 

Hotchkiss in Hollywood aimed to be an accessible discussion for the entire school community. Bowen said, “It’s [easy] to sit in and just listen to the different stories and not feel any pressure that you need to know anything about film. It’s especially beneficial to people who are into other disciplines of arts to see how they could possibly fit into this industry.”

Another panel of film professionals will be invited to judge for the Hotchkiss Film Festival on May 28. Any and all students are encouraged to submit a short film by May 18, regardless of their past experience.