Briarcliff High School students in Introduction to Film class and Future Filmmakers Club with Jamie Mandel can learn how to make a film. But knowing how to make a film and having a career in showbusiness can be two very different things.
Leave it to Mandel to bring in professionals who can share their experience in the real world of showbusiness and inspire students to follow their dreams.
Recently, students had a visit with television executive producer and showrunner Jon Rubin, who is also a local Briarcliff dad, with two children at the high school and whose wife is a speech clinician in the district.
A 25-year veteran of television, Rubin has worked for VH1, NBC, MSNBC, MTV and Lifetime, to name a few, and also plays in his own band called “Sky Blues.”
Rubin discussed the reality of working in the business as a producer.
“Making television is not an easy job,” he said. “It’s an uphill road. The reason people stay in this business is that their passion outweighs everything else.”
Rubin shared that his first job was at VH1.
“I started out in the music business and at the interview, I was asked how many Van Halen albums I could name. I got hired on the spot,” he said. “I demonstrated a passion for the industry, so if you’re applying for a job in the movie industry, for example, they might look at your credits, but they might also ask you what’s your favorite movie, or who inspired you.”
Rubin spoke about the role of a producer and shared some of the back-end work involved in producing, such as finding financing for a show.
He discussed a documentary that he made about the making of the film “The Breakfast Club.”
“I interviewed the cinematographer of the movie and got four hours’ worth of footage, but I needed to get the type of information that you see in the trailer – the soundbites, or the Sizzle Reel – the things that get people excited, because sometimes you need this to get more financing for your film.”
According to Rubin, hearing real people’s stories is something many people find captivating.
“This is why documentaries and reality television have become popular in recent years,” he said.
At the end of the visit students were able to ask questions and Rubin shared some tips.
“If you really love film, watch documentaries and other movies and find out where the filmmakers got their ideas,” he said. “You can write what you know, just look around you. The story of “The Karate Kid” film is based on someone who got beat up when he was a teenager and took martial arts lessons.”
Students enjoyed the visit.
“It was an informative and fun experience,” said junior Patrick Storck.
“Everything was super interesting,” said sophomore Dov Kurtis. “I could tell that Rubin loves what he does.”