Star rises in the West for NESCom graduates

Posted Jan. 22, 2009, at 9:35 a.m.

BANGOR – Instead of reaching for the stars, a significant number of recent New England School of Communications graduates are now working with them.

A recent survey of 2006 and 2007 NESCom grads show at least eight members who have moved to the Los Angeles area and are working in the entertainment industry, especially with television and movies.

The former students are mostly from tiny towns throughout New England and are part of the recent western movement by the school’s graduates.

Bill Devine, NESCom’s placement director, said the movement “isn’t an exodus but it does show a trend.” The most recent count of graduates in the past three years shows some 16 or 17 former students seeking career paths in places such as California, Nevada, Colorado and Arkansas.

For many the westward migration is as much of an adventure as it is an attempt to solidify a career path. The recent California relocation probably started with Melissa Newman of Hampton, N.H., a 2006 graduate, who simply packed her bags, said “I’m going,” and headed to Los Angeles to seek employment in her field of expertise.

This seems to have had a domino effect with a number of her acquaintances deciding to follow her. Melissa is employed by Gay Rosental Productions as a post-production assistant and is writing a script for a comedy television pilot about her experiences in moving to the West Coast.

Amanda Luce, who hails from Anson, is typical of the NESCom alumnae who have settled in the Los Angeles area. She is a set production assistant for television and had been working on the TV show “Saving Grace,” season two. She has also worked on the TV shows “Chuck” and “Cold Case” and will be involved with “Saving Grace,” season three, when it starts filming next March.

While working with “Saving Grace,” season one, Luce was responsible for ” the first team,” the main actors, cueing them on when to enter various scenes being filmed.

“You won’t see me in any of the episodes because I am hiding behind trees, desks or doors while giving directions to the actors,” she said. Before her stint with “Saving Grace” she worked at The Insider, the producer of Entertainment Tonight.

“That was very hectic. Anytime Brittany Spears even went to the gas station at midnight it produced the same chaos in the news room as if someone had died,” according to Luce. “When Heath Ledger died we got the news just 12 minutes before our 1 p.m. deadline to feed a broadcast to New York City. We made the deadline,” she added.

Like her fellow graduates, Luce finds working with the stars somewhat routine now. She has met Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Matt Damon, the cast of “Desperate Housewives” and ” The Sopranos.”

Dan Judd from Annapolis, Md., now with the Nickelodeon Cable Network art department, has worked with George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Jim Carrey. Nick Aniello, of Farmington, Conn., a freelance audio engineer whose stint at Herzog and Company included working directly with the director of “Pirates of the Caribbean” as well as recording the writers of the hit TV series “Lost,” is developing his own audio post house that specializes in editing, recording and audio forensics.

Las Vegas is the destination of six other NESCom graduates, all of whom have been employed by an audio visual company that provides technicians to handle the sound equipment used at meetings and other events by the J.W. Marriott hotel chain.

They are: David Potter, Bangor; Sarah Denbow, Kenduskeag; Theresa Dyzieyk, Swan’s Island; Michael Rancourt, Hermon; Chris Knauer, Hydeville, Vt.; and Adam Vinciguerra, South Berwick.

Also heeding the call to move west have been Justin Beach of Morrill, a news videographer for TV station KJCT in Grand Junction, Colo., and Kevin Matluk of Belfast, a TV editor for Powerhouse Productions in Hot Springs, Ark.

The enthusiasm of this group is well summed up by Amanda Luce, who said, “Needless to say, I have been having a blast out here [California] and I can’t wait for the adventures to come.”

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