The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSUN alum provides film students with keys to success

Ken “Shay” Schoech, a CSUN graduate, may need more than 24 hours a day to accomplish all that he has set his mind to. With his own production company, an internship program at the world-renowned Cannes Film Festival, and involvement in an organization dedicated to helping young filmmakers figure out the complications of Hollywood, Schoech definitely has a lot going on.

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead, I guess,” Schoech said. Recently, he was featured on CSUN’s homepage for the internship he runs, which is called Project: Cannes. He and his partner, Robert Ford, take students to the Cannes Film Festival each year and let them work the festival rather than a concession stand, which is the fate of many interns.

“We gave each person their own personalized internship, based on what they want to do,” Schoech said. He and Ford arm the students with a tour of the city, names and contact information of industry people, and the support of accredited businesses with which they travel. Both Schoech and Ford have their own production companies called NorthBound Entertainment and Creative Minds, respectively.

Schoech and Ford have teamed up on other ventures since the 2006 Project: Cannes, including Bridging the Gap, which will launch in August 2007 and provide the blueprint of how students can get from graduation to real jobs in the film industry. Under the umbrella of Bridging the Gap is Project: L.A., which will focus on Hollywood and its surrounding areas, and somewhere in the future there will also be a Project: New York, Ford said.

“We’re bridging the gap between the film students and the film industry,” Shoech said. “It shouldn’t be that hard to get your foot in the door. We get them in there where they need to be, and from there it’s up to them.” Schoech and Ford let students know who the big executives are, where they can rent equipment and storage, and also share where they can find low costs or even student discounts.

“It aids college students upon graduation in moving to and securing work in L.A.,” Ford said. Project: L.A. was one of Ford’s “epiphanies” when he started thinking about what comes next for their Cannes interns and his many friends back on the East Coast. Ford attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., and knew lots of people from there and New York who would simply pack up and head west without any real idea of where to go and what to do once they got here.

Helping others has been a project of Schoech’s for a long time. Ford recalled how he almost missed Cannes 2005, but Schoech kept at him and finally told him, “I can’t see going back with anybody but you,” and offered to pay Ford’s way, telling him to pay him back when he could.

“I couldn’t say no,” Ford said. They took a few other students with them, for fees similar to what they themselves had paid for their original internship, and that helped slash costs. That is how the idea for Project: Cannes was born.

Ken tries to help out CSUN students by either pointing them to jobs in the industry or even employing them himself.

“I always turn a lot of love back to Northridge,” Schoech said. “These are my people. I try to open up some doors.”

Kevin North was one of the CSUN students who Schoech and Ford took to Cannes 2005. Schoech employed North as his project coordinator, which was part of North’s personalized internship. North will be returning with Schoech and Ford for Cannes 2006, again as their employee.

“It’s so compacted, you’re running into opportunity left and right, it’s just a matter of knowing how to work it,” North said. “Your dreams can come true, it’s that easy.”

North said he enjoyed working with Schoech and mentioned that he is a good friend.

“He’s always got this amazing vision of how it’s going to work out,” North said. “And usually, it does.”

Nate Thomas, the head of CSUN’s film production option, says that the first thing he noticed about Schoech was his tenacity and drive.

“When you have a passion and drive, that’s 70 percent of what you need in this industry,” Thomas said. He also noted that Schoech was very willing to help other students, despite the competitiveness of the program. Schoech saw that by raising the integrity of his classmates’ projects, he was raising the integrity of the whole program, Thomas said.

He and Ford said they are providing an alternative to an internship that many felt was not what it should be. They are then providing the next step: Launching projects that will help the next generation of filmmakers get their foot in the door of Hollywood.

“It does wonders when you go back and help those coming up below you. It all comes back to me in spades,” Schoech said.

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