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Hollywood Semester program welcomes new associate director and new goals

Hollywood semester is looking to expand to other cities. Photo by Angeline Schmelzer.

Film director Howard McCain was hired around four weeks ago as the associate director of the Hollywood Semester. He was introduced to students during an informational meeting on Sept. 28.

McCain started a Hollywood Semester program at the University of Miami and has taught in a similar program at Columbia College. He said a friend of his mentioned the assistant director position opening at Bradley, to which reaction was, “Wow, I want to do that again.”

“Howard comes from a wonderful combination of real-world experience in the industry — producing, writing, directing, pitching, all of that — but then he also has academic [experience] running programs like ours,” Chris Marsh, director of the Hollywood Semester and study away programs, said. 

Even though McCain has only been in the position at Bradley for a few weeks, his impression of the program is a positive one. 

“The wonderful thing is Chris,” McCain said. “You couldn’t ask for a better booster, manager, cheerleader. He’s obviously brought so much energy into the program and the students.”

McCain lives in Los Angeles, so his responsibilities to the program include day-to-day operations such as student issues, working with intern employers, finding faculty members and leading special trips around the city.

Some of these trips have included a Dodgers game, red carpet events and even a backlot tour of Warner Bros. Studios. 

“Chris is the general back at base and I’m the guy in the field,” McCain said. “We’re going to work, I think, really well together, seamlessly, because we both have the same goals, and I think we both generate positive energy about what’s possible.”

Currently, there are four students in-person in Los Angeles participating in classes and internships. The plan for next semester is to have 18-20 students, bringing the program back to full-strength after not having any students in Hollywood during the spring 2021 semester. 

McCain said the Hollywood Semester is experiencing a “soft restart” due to the pandemic shutting things down, but his main goal is to grow the program. Marsh and McCain want to broaden the appeal in the program so students from different departments will find it valuable.

However, McCain said the program should still work for each specific major involved. This means making sure that each student is receiving knowledge that will benefit them in their chosen field.

In addition to growing interest from different majors, Marsh and McCain want to expand the program outside of Hollywood. Cities such as Nashville, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Vancouver and London could provide different opportunities for students.

Some of these cities have become relevant hubs for industries such as sports, entertainment and news, according to Marsh.

“What we’re seeing in terms of the industry itself, it really is no longer, ‘You gotta go to Hollywood if you want to make movies or television programs or games or whatever,’” Marsh said.

McCain said a program like the Hollywood Semester did not exist when he went to film school and he wishes that there was. 

“It is this amazing opportunity and I hope the students understand that and seize it because they’ll be so much further ahead than somebody from another school who wanted to go out to LA but didn’t have a program like this; they’ll just be lightyears ahead,” McCain said. “Even though it’s a semester, that semester almost makes up for two years of trying to come out to LA at zero.”

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