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Conservatory of Performing Arts

Featured Filmmakers

Caitlin Magarity Class of 2012Caitlin

Music had always been a big part of Caitlin Magarity’s life. Growing up, Magarity played violin, piano, guitar and also sang. When an  internship opportunity with Los Angeles-based Remote Control Productions arose, the junior cinema arts major jumped at the chance.   

Remote Control Productions is associated with illustrious composer Hans Zimmer, who wrote scores for some of the most successful movies in the last decade, including Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, Michael Bay’s Transformers and Nolan’s Inception. The internship would prove to be the perfect opportunity for Magarity to meld her passion for cinema and her love for music.

Nelson Chipman, department chair for cinema arts, recognized Magarity’s talent after she collaborated on a musical score for a film in her Production IV class, and notified her of the internship opportunity. 

“I have a heavy background in music,” Magarity said, “but not the technology part.” 

Curious to learn more, Magarity moved to Los Angeles for the summer. From June to late August, Magarity observed the musical process while spending her days organizing food and coffee runs for recording sessions and meetings. She also acquired equipment and ensured that her colleagues’ work proceeded smoothly.

“First [Remote Control Productions] will connect with a project, from there they discuss it,” Magarity said.

”Then they write the music to a storyboard. Hans then writes the music and builds off that collaboration on the soundtrack. Once [the music] has been approved it’s sent to mix, then they scene it.” 

While the internship offered Magarity many educational opportunities, it challenged her, too. A stranger in Hollywood, Magarity also learned how to “go in blind” as a North Wales native relocated to Los Angeles. She laughed as she remembered attempting to maneuver six lanes of traffic while traveling across the city to pick up items for important guests. 

“[The internship] taught me to work hard no matter what work you’re given,” Magarity said. “Always work hard no matter what you’re given to do, and have a positive outlook while you do it — going alone taught me to put myself out there because I didn’t know anybody.”

Now back at Point Park University for her senior year, Magarity feels more prepared to move to Los Angeles following graduation. 

“I feel a lot more comfortable with the thought of going out there,” Magarity said. “I know people now.”

With her eye on the future, Magarity is striving to excel in her Point Park course work. After submitting a resume, reel and letter of intent, she landed one of eight coveted director slots, out of 24 applicants, for her Production III class. The class is one of the most competitive, grueling and intense courses in the cinema arts program, requiring a crew of students to produce a short film in one semester.

Magarity suggested that all students adopt an attitude of pursuing available opportunities and getting as much work under their belts as possible.

“Work hard, and don’t take any project for granted — invest in what you’re doing,” Magarity said.

Story by Kelly Grigg, photojournalism major

Steve Mannella Class of 2010Manella

Every new graduate hopes that once they face the work world, job offers will leave them too busy for much else. Luckily for Steve Mannella, a recent Point Park University Cinema Arts graduate, that was the case. “I work a lot, from 9 a.m. and I don’t leave until 9 or 10 at night, and usually work Saturdays too,” said Mannella in a phone interview. Working as a post-production assistant for John Singleton’s movie Abduction, Mannella found the long hours spent in the field that he loves worth while. (Abduction, a Lionsgate production was shot in Pittsburgh over the summer and fall of 2010.)

Mannella majored in cinema production with a concentration in editing. He credits Point Park with giving him many early opportunities, which led to jobs in cinema before graduation. “The real world experience is one thing about Point Park that is pretty cool,” said Mannella. “Since day one, they have you involved in filmmaking; you’re in the field, shooting, experimenting, and that translates to actual movies. Students know what they are doing, and that translates to more jobs.”

Networking, another important aspect of any industry, has also opened doors to more jobs for Mannella. In his junior year, Mannella received a position on the Lionsgate film Warrior. An internship that began in the production office became a paid editing internship once Mannella was able to get into the editing room. As Warrior wrapped, Mannella considered skipping his senior year and moving to Los Angeles, but instead chose to finish his education at Point Park. “I realized it would be more beneficial to stay in school, get another year of experience and hone my craft a little more,” said Mannella.

His decision turned out to be a wise one when a coworker from Warrior was able to refer Mannella when Abduction came to Pittsburgh. “When Abduction came around, I had a friend who I worked with on Warrior — he passed my name along to the head of post-production at Lionsgate,” said Mannella. “They called me and offered me the position.” Now Mannella's job is to ensure that post-production runs smoothly, whether he is organizing and stocking camera, sound and production reports, or updating editors books, logs and line scripts. "They have me come into the [editing] room and ask me my thoughts,” said Mannella. “I’ve been really fortunate that the guys respect me. They ask my opinion, ‘What about this cut, or this cut.’ They have a respect for what I have to say, which is really nice."

Mannella advises any fellow film students to avoid cockiness while on the job and instead be a sponge during the process — especially making themselves open to learning new things. “Always try to be polite, positive, outgoing and just be really supportive of co-workers and their roles,” said Mannella. “I try to be engaged in what they are doing, show personality and have a positive work ethic.”

When Abduction wrapped up shooting in Pittsburgh, Mannella was asked to move to Los Angeles to finish post-production on the film. Mannella advises Point Park students to keep themselves open to all available opportunities. “Take advantage of everything that you come across, go out and make movies, experiment, try new things, go out, shoot and cut together, watch events unfold, watch people," said Mannella. “Just stay in tune with what is going on around you because that is your canvas."

Story by Kelly Grigg, photojournalism major   

  Read about our previous Featured Filmmakers