Our alumni work at production houses, for film distribution companies and in education. Recent graduates are employed by National Geographic, Focus Films, The History Channel and independent film companies.

Ashley Harrington G '09

Current position: Manager, Focus Features International

Changes in the industry since graduation? From a film distribution and exhibition perspective, I can tell you the shift from 35mm to digital cinema in the past four years is pretty significant. We’re seeing how this affects the industry as a whole—from the film processing labs and local art house theaters to the film stock suppliers and the film distribution studios. Just last year we saw two of the biggest players in the 35mm film processing industry, Technicolor and Deluxe, merge in order to cut costs. As of right now, I think it’s safe to say nearly 70 percent—maybe more—of U.S. theaters have converted their projection systems to digital. We’re also hearing various industry reports that by the end of 2013, 35mm release printing (on a mainstream level) will be virtually dead. It’s hard to fathom this medium, which has thrived in this industry for more than 100 years, is being replaced by digital cinema technology in less than 10. We’re seeing a lot of labs cut jobs and shut down, but we’re also seeing new players in the digital cinema industry come to fruition. On that note, there are many opportunities and advantages in this changing digital landscape as well. For instance, a filmmaker can feel confident the final approved DCP (Digital Cinema Package) will not degrade in quality over time. Whereas, a 35mm feature release print is more vulnerable for wear and tear, and will eventually lose its visual integrity through each use. So all I can say for digital cinema in 2013 is, watch this space.

Most important skills used today? In my current position, I feel my oral and written communication skills are just as important as my technical knowledge and wherewithal. A major aspect of my position is being a liaison between our worldwide labs and foreign distributors. I have to effectively communicate the needs of my foreign distributors to our labs in order to ensure they have the proper materials they require to effectively release our films overseas. However, from a technical standpoint, it’s important I provide specific technical versioning instructions to our foreign distributors so when they localize the film, either by subtitling or dubbing, they are translating in such a way that reflects the filmmaker’s initial vision.

Favorite memories of Newhouse? I loved how accessible the professors were at Newhouse. I have many fond memories of dinner parties with my fellow grad students at Professor Breyer’s home. Chuck’s was also one of our regular stomping grounds. They make a mean burger and have a great selection of beer.

Advice for current students? Don’t pigeonhole yourself into a specific position when you start your post-graduation job search. Many of us want to be directors, producers and writers off the bat, but the reality is these jobs aren’t easily attainable at first. Don’t lose track of your goals. Network with professionals. Find a professional internship. Broaden your professional scope. It’s a tough market out there, but you’ll find your Newhouse skills will pertain to a variety of positions in the entertainment business. From there, you’ll blossom.

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