BU Today

Arts & Entertainment

COM Moves Motion Pictures Beyond the Classroom

New staff position paves the way for students to showcase work

When Randy Steinberg graduated from BU with a screenwriting degree, he wasn’t sure what to do next. “I didn’t really get a lot of guidance from my professors,” says Steinberg (COM’98), a COM visiting assistant professor of screenwriting. “I just got thrown into the real world and had to make it on my own.”

Current film and television students will likely have an easier time of it. As the department’s new motion picture industry coordinator, Steinberg is helping students market their films, videos, and screenplays to festivals and industry professionals, so that by the time they graduate, he says, “they have better sense of how the business works.”

BU Today recently caught up with Steinberg to find out more about his new post. 

BU Today: What does a motion picture industry coordinator do?
My primary duties are to promote student work to film and television industry professionals, so I’m pitching student films and teleplays to production companies, studios, agents, managers, and festivals. I’m also networking with the local media, as well as promoting films from BU’s annual Redstone Film Festival and the new sitcom Res.Life, which is a joint venture between BU and mtvU. Of course, students have always entered festivals, but they usually do it on their own, and they don’t always have a lot of guidance.  

What are your goals?
This is a new position, so there is no precedent. Hopefully, by next year I’ll be more familiar with the circuit and with what people are looking for. When people think of big film schools, they typically think of USC, UCLA, and NYU, while BU kind of slips under the radar. But we have good stuff too, and I want to promote that by establishing relationships with industry professionals, as well as our extensive alumni network. Ultimately, I want our students’ work to be accepted into film festivals, and win them.  And certainly, I want to help our students land jobs and sell scripts.

Why did the film and television department create this position?
Well, most major film schools have a similar post. In fact, Hollywood Reporter recently listed BU as one of the top 12 film schools in the country, and in order for us to remain competitive, we need someone promoting what our students are producing. Second, until now getting students entered in film festivals was a rather informal procedure. Professors typically don’t have time to recommend a student for a festival or write a letter on someone’s behalf, and students can use a helping hand. Not a holding hand, mind you, but certainly they could use some guidance. So one of the main focuses is to link up with film festival promoters, get student work in front of programmers and directors, and establish relationships with them, so that next year, they’re coming to us and saying, “Hey, we liked what you sent last year — what do you have this year?” Our work is good, and it needs to be out there.

What have you accomplished thus far?
I’ve been on the job about two months now. The first thing I did was send a mass mailing to a lot of film festivals, and I’m just now getting some responses. A lot of the festivals are interested in seeing what we have, and I’ve been sending them our DVDs from last year’s Redstone Festival. I’ve been contacting folks I know in the industry to let them know what I’m doing, and I’m also traveling to a few regional film festivals to hand out our students’ DVDs.

How do students get their DVDs to you?
Because my position is new, we still have to devise a process for choosing which films we submit and how we do it. Right now, any DVD that is given to me for festival submission must come from a faculty member. I imagine that in the end I’ll submit between 10 and 15 film, TV, and video projects, as well as screenplays and teleplays. I do have a small budget, so for selected, approved films, I will be able to help with submission fees to festivals. In the past year, we’ve had students submit films to the Hamptons International Film Festival in New York, which is a nice midsize festival, and also to the Lausanne Underground Film and Music Festival in Switzerland.

Vicky Waltz can be reached at vwaltz@bu.edu.