Student Success: Electronic Media Communications Grad Takes on L.A.
How does a UNW student get to Hollywood? No, this isn’t a screenplay written by one of our film students in the basement of the Mel; this is a real-life success story of a former student.
Ross Fleming graduated from the University of Northwestern — St. Paul in 2012 with a degree in Electronic Media Communications with an emphasis in Film. In September, he sat down with a PR Workshop student and explained his journey.
“I knew Northwestern was a good match for me when I met Professor Sorenson,” he recalled. “I wanted to study film and thought the program would be a place where I could learn and grow. I’m glad I did because I use the knowledge and experiences I gained during college at my job every day.”
A UNW-sponsored “semester away” program catapulted Ross all the way to Los Angeles. After graduating in Minnesota, he used the connections he built during that term and found his way back to the West Coast.
“I found starter work on photo shoots and small video productions and, eventually, fell in line with some people involved in costume design. That was a good fit. There was no big ‘you got the job’ moment. I learned that it is all about doing different projects and seeing where you fit—usually, people will tell you when you’re a good addition.”
Ross’s experiences at Northwestern prepared him for many scenarios he finds himself in today. “I remember driving to eight different Gap stores to find a single sweater marked down to ten dollars during my college years.” Ross recollected. “In the real world, I do this on a bigger scale. When you’re on the job, you learn one hundred new things, but general knowledge prepares you for multi-million-dollar films. You need to take what you know and grow it. I’ve been here for ten years, and I’m still getting better at what I do.”
According to Ross, flexibility is the most essential quality in post-collegiate life. “Film is a craft and a trade. Craft is an art form, and trade is a job. You’ll have to deal with both. And just because you’re not doing what you want today, doesn’t mean you won’t be doing it tomorrow. Trust that you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.”
Finally, Ross gave some advice to current students based on what he wishes he had known earlier. “I definitely wish I knew to be patient with myself. As you go from being a student to a professional, many systems are at play. You’ll be learning for the rest of your life. If you can dream it, you can do it. It just might take more work and time than you expect. There are hard moments, but you can get through them.”
While Ross will be the first to admit his life is not a screenplay, he’s thankful for an education that helped him follow his dreams of working in the film industry.