Fourteen California State University, Northridge cinema and television arts students are spending this week at an NFL boot camp.
Instead of running through the rigorous physical training demanded of a professional football player, the CSUN film students are helping some of Hollywood’s top filmmakers give professional football players a crash course on what it takes to succeed in the rough-and-tumble world of the entertainment industry.
The second annual NFL Pro Hollywood Boot Camp is taking place this week at Universal Studios in Universal City. Directed by NFL Player Engagement and New York-based film production company Film Life, Inc., the program gives 22 current and former NFL players—including 2005 NFL MVP Shaun Alexander and four active first-round draft picks, Darrius Heyward-Bey of the Oakland Raiders, Alex Mack of the Cleveland Browns, Gerald McCoy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Jared Odrick of the Miami Dolphins—a comprehensive overview of the creative disciplines in the film industry, including screen writing, directing producing and film financing.
The boot camp includes presentations from such industry executives and filmmakers as Legendary Pictures partner and producer Thomas Tull, who produced “The Dark Knight,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Inception”; director and producer Peter Berg, who produced “Friday Night Lights”; and writer, actor and director Robert Townsend, best known for “The Five Heartbeats” and “The Hollywood Shuffle.”
“Our students know what they are doing and they will be working alongside industry professionals in teaching these players what it is like to work in Hollywood, whether as a script supervisor ensuring continuity in each scene, keeping track of footage and camera angles or as a gaffer setting up lights or as an assistant director running the set,” said cinema and television arts professor Nate Thomas, head of CSUN’s film option.
“Regardless of the job, our students will be passing on what they know to professional football players who’ve indicated that some day they may want to work in the film industry once they retire from the football field,” he said.
Thomas noted that the camp is only two years old and CSUN film students have been invited to help out both years.
CSUN film senior Stephanie Mason, who will be demonstrating what it takes to be an assistant director, said she was proud the NFL chose CSUN students to help out.
“This says a lot about the respect the industry has for our school and the academic integrity of our program,” said the Studio City resident and mother of four. “We are all very excited to be working with some of Hollywood’s elite and sharing what we know
with people from another organization who are also interested in pursuing careers in film. It just so happens that those other people happen to be professional football players.”
Regardless of the size difference, Thomas said the NFL players will get a professional hands-on experience on what it is really like to work in Hollywood.
“It’s not all glamour,” he said. “It’s a lot of hard work and long days.”
But, Thomas said, the camp can also be a lot of fun.
“I have to admit it’s kind of funny when you see a group of players walking out carrying lights screens on their backs,” he said. “They may be big celebrities on the field, but at boot camp, they’re just like every other gaffer in Hollywood pulling sandbags out of a truck.”
Cal State Northridge’s Department of Cinema and Television Arts, housed in the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication, has an international reputation for producing dedicated and talented entertainment industry professionals who recognize the value of hard work as they learn and continue to perfect their crafts. The department’s alumni work in all aspects of entertainment media, from writing, producing and directing to manning cameras and having the final say in what project is made.