Burning Questions with the outgoing Editor in Chief

Photo Credit: Liana Bandziulis

Photo Credit: Liana Bandziulis

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: 11 Burning Questions with the outgoing Editor in Chief – Los Angeles Loyolan.

1. What emotions are you feeling as you transition out of the Editor in Chief (EIC) role?
It’s bittersweet. That’s the word that I have been using to describe it. Nothing could be more true. It’s really nice to get the chance to enjoy the end of senior year, but I will really miss having this job.

2. What first drew you to apply for the position?
It was actually inspired by people telling me that I should think about it, and that really made me decide to go for it.

3. What are you proudest of from your tenure?
It’s hard, because there are so many things that I’m proud of. I’m really proud of the way that we have worked on our Web presence. I think that we have done a better job of being in tune with the campus by covering more and getting more of the breaking news. I’m proud of the ways that we have grown as a paper.

4. What is your biggest hope for the Loyolan in the coming year?
Really working on the Web and finding ways to keep the student body interested. It’s a new crop every year. A fourth of the school changes every year and it’s really important to think about that when you plan out what direction the paper should go in.

5. Which of your articles is your personal favorite?
I have two. My first would be my coverage of when The Loft stuff was going on my sophomore year, about not having a liquor license, because that was the first time I got really involved with a story (in the Feb. 24, 2011 article of the Loyolan titled “Loft adopts new procedures”). My other favorite was the piece that I wrote on addiction last year. It was a favorite in terms of getting to know those people, learning about it and getting to write about it feature style (in the March 29, 2012 article of the Loyolan titled “Addiction: roads to recovery”).

6. What are your post-graduation plans?
You know, I wish I had an answer. I know that Kenzie [O’Keefe], the 2011-12 Editor in Chief, did last year. My biggest goal is just to find something that I enjoy as much as I enjoy working here, and just being comfortable with it, whatever that might be. If anyone has any suggestions…

7. How do you plan on filling your time that used to be devoted to the Loyolan for the next couple months?
That’s a tough question. I’m going to try to really take advantage of my last semester here.

8. You are known in the office for your guilty television pleasures. Out of “Army Wives,” “Revenge” and “Chicago Fire,” which is your favorite and why?
To be honest, once First Amendment Week ended, I watched eight episodes of “Army Wives” in a row and I am just right back in it. It is so good.

9. You’re also known for your love of your cat, Charlie. What do you think Charlie would say about your tenure as EIC?
He would ask me if this meant that I was going back to Boston. He’s my best friend! We’ve been apart for four years, and it’s been hard.

10. You’ve gotten to travel a lot during your time at the Loyolan. What was your favorite trip and why?
That’s hard, because each trip has been great. I think that Chicago for the Loyolan was an incredible trip because it was a great chance to bond with staff members, expand journalism knowledge and experience really being in a city with a downtown and a subway.

11. Which film do you hope will win Best Picture at the Oscars this weekend?
Most of my favorite movies don’t get nominated. I’m not super passionate about any of them. I honestly probably like “Zero Dark Thirty” the most, and I’m biased because I love [screenwriter] Mark Boal because he came here, but I think that movie is a great example of what a movie should be. “Zero Dark Thirty” was great because it happened within our lifetimes and it is already filmed and it’s factual. “Argo” and “Silver Linings Playbook” were also great.

12. Describe what the Loyolan means to you in one sentence.

13. What is your funniest story from working at the Loyolan?
In a lot of ways the funniest ones are what was the worst. Like when the power went out and we literally couldn’t make a paper, or when the printer self-combusted. We once had to print stuff at the library and run it back, and I almost got my printer from my room. LMU has actually marked me as spam because I emailed everyone in ITS asking them to fix the broken printer after hours because I needed help. You know what? Someone called us and it got fixed, but until this day I cannot email someone without it possibly popping up as potential spam, so check your spam folders for me!

11 Burning Questions with an L.A. Times editor

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: 11 Burning Questions with an L.A. Times editor – Los Angeles Loyolan.

Photo Credit: John Corrigan

1) How did you first get involved at the L.A. Times?

I’ve been involved with the L.A. Times since 1999. I was hired as the night city editor and the business editor for the San Fernando Valley. I was a screenwriting major here at LMU, and when I graduated I couldn’t figure out how to become a screenwriter. So I ended up getting into a Master’s program at [CSU] Northridge in communications. From there, I managed to get an [unpaid] internship at the L.A. Times and some clips.

2) How did you transition from your old position as business editor to your current post?

The former [assistant managing editor] had left the organization. The editor, Davan Maharaj, approached me to take it over. I had been associated with some quality journalism projects – I edited our Wal-Mart series that won the Pulitzer in 2004. … [Maharaj] was aware of my arts background and thought it would be a good fit.

3) As assistant managing editor for arts & entertainment, what is your goal for the section?

My goal is to have the best arts & entertainment section in the country. We live in the entertainment capital of the world, and we have special access to filmmakers, to actors, to producers. What I want to have is both print and online content people really want to read that is useful, compelling [and] thought-provoking.

4) What do you think arts & entertainment can do that is special?

Especially in this era of the Internet and instant news, if you look at the hard news headlines, a lot of the time the stories on the front page or in the news sections people have some familiarity with. … Arts & entertainment has the unique position where most of the stories on our cover, people may not have a familiarity with.

5) How do you feel your work in business sections informs your current work?

In business in particular, you get a discipline of looking beyond what people say to [the] numbers and information. … When you are covering the showbusiness elements of the entertainment industry, it does force a certain mindset to try to find facts to go with the words — to look a little deeper and harder for information.

6) Do you feel your screenwriting major background makes you more drawn to film in arts & entertainment?

Screenwriting was really helpful [to me] in being a journalist. … When you’re writing about features or events, you have to think [about] storyline, the plot and characterization. When you’re writing about people, you want those people to come to life.

7) Did you write for the Loyolan back in your LMU days?

I did indeed. I remember covering Bobby Seale, the Black Panther who came to campus … that was on Page 1 of the Loyolan. And I believe my first assignment [was about how] at the time, people would park on campus and their windshields were leafleted with ads from a term paper research company.

8) We featured a debate (“How real is too real?” in the Sept. 20. Loyolan) about the photo of the Libyan ambassador that ran on the front page of the L.A. Times. Can you speak at all to the decision making behind that?

I really can’t. I was not directly involved in that decision.

9) You sit on the LMU Magazine advisory board. What do you do in that role?

We meet about four times a year to review the magazine and make suggestions. … One of the big audiences is alumni, and so I thought pictures of what’s going on on-campus now, that’s important – more stories to just bring you back to campus.

10) What do you hope to bring in your speech to the Loyolan staff? [Editor’s note: Corrigan spoke at the Loyolan’s staff meeting last Monday.]

To me, journalism is really a wonderful pursuit. … Years ago, reporting was very strict: not opinion … only a few people could be commentators or have opinions. Increasingly, though, with so much news out there … there is a chance for analytical writing, for opinion writing. … There’s something about writing that is strong.

11) If you boiled your life down to a headline, what do you think it would be?

“Making the most out of life.”

Spencer Sharpe

11 Burning Questions with a 2012 Olympic attendee

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: 11 Burning Questions with a 2012 Olympic attendee – Los Angeles Loyolan.

Spencer Sharpe

Photo Credit: Liana Bandziulis | The Los Angeles Loyolan

1. How did you get the opportunity to attend the Games?

I learned about a program at the London School of Economics and Political Science through one of my friends who actually was a graduating [LMU student and] Ignatian last year. … I then checked the dates and realized they lined up with the Olympics. So it was kind of an accident.

2. What events did you see?

I saw men’s volleyball. That’s the only thing I could get tickets to, actually, because they stopped selling tickets to Americans. … I was asking at an information booth, “I’m just looking for a ticket. I really don’t care what it is, any event.” And the guy next to me said, “I have some extra tickets, I’m not gonna be able to go to this event. I’ll sell them to you at the same price I paid for them.” And people were paying, like, five to 10 times the value of the ticket, so for 20 pounds, I said yes, and I got to go to the men’s volleyball match between Poland and Australia, and it was really cool. Most people weren’t rooting for a specific team, so every time a point was scored, the audience went crazy.

3. Who was your favorite Olympian this year?

It would have to be Michael Phelps. I still think he’s a god. I think he’s amazing in the fact that he can come back after four more years have gone by and still win gold against brand new athletes and younger athletes.

4. Has it been a goal of yours to go to the Olympics?

More of a dream. I’m originally from Iowa, so I never really thought it would be possible, because the Olympics aren’t coming to Iowa, ever. I never really imagined I’d get the opportunity, so this huge accident was kind of fulfilling one of my dreams.

5. Do you feel you can go back to watching the Olympics on TV after seeing them in person, or will it just not compare?

There’s no comparison anymore. I got the opportunity to watch the Olympics with a whole bunch of people from all around the world, because it was a very international school that I went to, so it was really exciting, watching it there in the city with those people.

6. Do you consider yourself more of a summer Olympics guy or do you prefer the winter Olympics?

I definitely like summer. There are more events I can watch that are more suspenseful. … My sister’s really into soccer, so my family’s a big soccer family, so we always watch those games. I really think the equestrian events are cool, the swimming is awesome, the diving is fun. [Spencer’s sister is LMU soccer team captain and senior Whitney Sharpe.]

7. What else did you do while in London?

I did a lot of cultural stuff, and I did a lot of nerdy stuff. I went to the British Museum, the British Library, and I got to see some of J.K. Rowling’s handwritten [pages] of the first Harry Potter ever, and the first ever drawing of the Shire from “The Hobbit.” The best thing to do … was the pubs you could go to, just because there were people from all around the world at every single pub that you went to, and it was just so international and such a world city at that time.

8. If you could compete in one Olympic event, which would you choose?

I would do the high dive, because I think that’s fascinating. I really think that being up that high and jumping would get my adrenaline rushing.

9. For freshmen reading the Loyolan for the first time, what advice do you have for them?

I’d say, really, if you’re trying to get a solid GPA, don’t take your first classes as a joke. Really focus on your coursework. … Don’t forget that you’re here for school.

10. What are you involved in on campus?

I am an Ignatian, and I’m working on starting a new organization on campus, but it doesn’t exist yet. It’ll be a policy-based organization. Our idea, me and a few other Ignatians, is that it [will focus on] issues that affect Los Angeles. So homelessness, economic issues, environmental issues. We’re going to find professors at LMU who study that issue and then what we’re going to do is with them, create a type of policy proposal or a solution to that problem. Just in a sense of hoping LMU students become more aware of issues that affect Los Angeles so we can offer real solutions. (online only)

11. What are your big hopes for LMU during in its 101st year?

I hope that LMU continues to create a great reputation. I feel like with our 100th year, more people were becoming aware of our University, because it’s mostly a regional school, I’d say. So I hope we continue projecting our image both nationally and internationally, so that eventually our school could be a little more recognized. … I just don’t think people take LMU as seriously as they should.

12. LMU’s LGBTSS is staging a presentation of the play “8,” about Proposition 8 and marriage equality, in early September. The decision has just started to get a little flack. Thoughts?

As someone who’s a bisexual individual, I really do care about this issue. … What I think the University should recognize, as I think they did by [allowing] this, that they have a wide range of students. Not every student is a Catholic or a Jesuit, so I think by LMU allowing it to go forth, in a sense it’s kind of addressing the fact that many different students go here, and they will support and bring awareness to every issue, even if it goes against religious affiliation. I hope that LMU does not cave to this outward pressure. … If they really stood their ground, that would be very respectable in a university, and as a bisexual, I would feel like my university supported me, and didn’t have a sense of a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, just because it’s a Catholic university.

SFTV brings women directors to movie screenings

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: SFTV brings women directors to movie screenings – Los Angeles Loyolan.

With Kathryn Bigelow becoming the first woman to win Best Director at the Oscars last March, there seems to be increasing buzz in the film industry about female filmmakers, yet movie-goers are still far less likely to see a woman’s name under “directed by” in the credits. That won’t be the case, though, with “TiMER,” a 2010 indie release being screened on campus tonight.

Jac Schaeffer, director, writer and producer of “TiMER,” which was released this year after a run on the film festival circuit, will appear tonight alongside two of her producers, Rikki Jarrett and Jennifer Glynn, thanks to the SFTV Women’s Society through the LMU School of Film and Television’s Monday Night Series, which was started by former dean Teri Schwartz. The event, which begins at 7 p.m. in Mayer Theater, marks the first Monday Night Series screening co-organized by another group with the Dean’s office.

Schaeffer took some time to talk to the Loyolan about why women filmmakers’ place in the industry, the inspiration behind her film and what she calls “genre mashups.”

Kevin O’Keeffe: The movie you’re screening tonight, “TiMER” – without giving too much away – is about the concept of soul mates and one woman’s forced wait to find the man she’s “meant” to spend her life with. What was the inspiration behind this plot?

Jac Schaeffer: First, the original idea came when my brother was getting married. My mother had something called a “Countdown to the Big Day” clock: I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one, but you program the day of the wedding, and it’s like, “you have 72 days!” I was really single, and really cranky, and I would see the clock as being a signal counting down the days until I was single forever. It was like, I don’t really need a boyfriend right now, or even a date right now for the wedding, but if I knew that there was a guarantee that he would be out there somewhere, then I could be a good bridesmaid and a good sister. But I thought, “What if everybody had these clocks that told you how long you had to wait?”

KO: Has your perception of the concept of soul mates changed since you started working on this film?

JS: Yeah, actually, it has. It’s funny: it was a four-year process, so the person I was when I started writing is a lot different than the person I am now. I think, inherently, I believed in soul mates, and I had my own doubts and jaded outlook after years of dating in Los Angeles, but I think I was bright-eyed and optimistic. Now I think I waffle, wondering if there are really soul mates. But I certainly don’t have that same magic. I’m more of a realist.

KO: In this kind of innovative genre, which could probably be best described as “sci-fi in a woman’s world”, something you’d be interested in expanding on in your next films?

JS: Absolutely. I believe strongly in genre mashups, that the best stories have emotional truth at their center but are also imaginative in their capsule, their shell, whatever the premise is. Charlie Kaufman is one of my heroes, and I think no one does it better than he does by creating honest human characters that are recognizable real people while expanding on the premise. I’m just as influenced by a very human, emotional movie as I am a James Cameron movie – James Cameron in the ’80s and ’90s, that is.

KO: I understand “TiMER” played in quite a few film festivals before its distribution and release last year. Can you talk a bit about that experience?

JS: It was epic. Film festivals are all about celebrating independent film and about the writers and directors. On a personal note, the past year and a half on the festival circuit has been the best of my life. It’s a small film, and it had a small release, but to travel around the world and connect with audiences … it’s a dream.

KO: You are a female filmmaker in an industry that, to be blunt, isn’t kind to its women so much of the time. What are your feelings on women’s advances in film?

JS: I have to be honest, I have a hard time with these kinds of questions. First of all, I support women and women filmmakers completely. Kathryn Bigelow has been my hero since I was fifteen. But I don’t like to look at it as the film industry isn’t kind to its women filmmakers. I don’t like to make that generalization. There are challenges, but how I approach it is my work. I don’t think about, “I’m a girl, this is my approach.” I have my own career and my own approach.

KO: What kind of message do you hope to bring to not just the female film students here at LMU, but to film students in general?

JS: The thing that I most commonly say to anyone trying to make a career in a creative career is to find your voice. The way to have your work really shine is for it to be authentic, from your heart and truthful in that way. It was a discovery I made, as cheesy as it sounds. It was only after I unlocked my own voice that I got people’s attention. It was the first film that was 100 percent me.

KO: What do you hope the students at the event tonight get from your film and your discussion?

JS: The reason I make movies is because I think it’s the most fun way to connect with people. They’re laughing or they’re crying when watching my movie, and it’s a connection to the audience and to the movie. I hope everyone enjoys it and it makes everyone think and they’re invigorated by the project. For anyone who’s interested doing what I did, I hope they feel that they can. We were very strong and very brave and very afraid and we did it, we persevered. There were many successes and failures, and we did it, and we can’t wait to do it again.

KO: Speaking of which, what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

JS: I have a couple things going, nothing in production quite yet, but one script that’s straight-up romantic comedy and a couple more sci-fi scripts. So I’m really focusing on writing right now.

John West

A chat with John West

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For orignal, please refer to: A chat with John West – Los Angeles Loyolan.

John West

Photo Credit: The Concert Agency

Fresh from being signed to Mercury Records, John West is setting the electronic world on fire with his warm, familiar acoustic sound. The artist, who is appearing with Tamar this Wednesday at the Living Room, took time to talk to the Loyolan about loving his audiences, his dream collaborations and covering a Rihanna hit.

Kevin O’Keeffe: How did you come to play at LMU’s “Live in the Living Room” venue?

John West: I had a friend who does some college bookings. He lined this up as well, since it was in L.A. But I don’t go too deep with the LMU scene, since I never went there or anything.

KO: Did you know of Tamar, your fellow artist at this concert, previously?

JW: I haven’t specifically met her, but I look forward to meeting her.

KO: On the topic of other artists, I have to ask: Who would be your dream collaborator?

JW: I’ve just gotten a deal with Mercury Records, so I’ve gotten the chance to work with some really great producers. Just yesterday, I got the chance to work with Bruno Mars’ camp, so I really look forward to getting to work with him. There are a lot of great people out right now, like Kanye West or Drake. Alicia Keys, too.

KO: You’re well-known for your interaction with the audience during a live performance. How do you adapt that to this college campus setting?

JW: The way I’ve built my fan base and my live performance technique, I’ve played on the streets as a performer. To some degree, when I play a room of people who aren’t going to walk past you a couple seconds later, it definitely takes the edge off. You’re always playing in front of strangers, but I don’t know. I don’t take it too seriously. It’s about having fun onstage and making sure the people around you are having fun too.

KO: What is the experience you want your fans to take away with them after a concert?

JW: The Dalai Lama has a great quote that’s something like, “I don’t want to be just inspiring; I want to be awe-inspiring.” If I can inspire people in a crowd, that’s the dream experience I would want them to take away from a concert of mine, whether their dream is being a musician or being the first in the family to get a college degree, anything.

KO: You’re also known for your acoustic cover of Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” What was your inspiration to take such a well-known song and turn it on its head?

JW: I just liked it a lot; it was such a great song. It’s what I like to call “dark pop”. When you cover a song, you definitely have a style that comes through whatever song you’re paying homage to. Sort of my spin on it, I was playing it how I felt it, which was a little slower and more focus on the lyrics.

KO: Would you say the tone and style of the “Umbrella” cover meshes well with your usual musical style?

JW: Yeah, I think my newer stuff is more up-tempo. Everything has sort of a laid-back feel, but yeah, I think it definitely fits.

KO: What do you think of being a recording artist in today’s constantly changing media world?

JW: It’s been challenging for an artist for the past 30 or 40 years because pop music is constantly evolving. Who’s the biggest artist in the world? Probably Lady Gaga, and similarly, everyone’s into these big dance songs. As an artist, the question is, do you attempt to fit that mold, or do you press on doing your own thing?

KO: But what specifically about today’s media makes it either more or less difficult?

JW: As a recording artist in 2006, you were probably in a rougher spot with the labels, so unaware of where things were going in media. But now, downloads and ringtones are just as important as selling records, and 100,000 records is a major hit now. For me, even without a record label, I’ve been able to be self-sufficient. I just think there’s a lot more power in an independent artist’s hands.