Thirteen Connecticut College seniors have been named Winthrop Scholars, the highest academic honor bestowed by the college.
Matthew Gentile '12
In the summer of 2010, Matthew Gentile '12 was interning at the Charlie Rose show in New York City when a phone call came in from Scott Rudin Productions. They needed a copy of an interview with Stieg Larsson from a few seasons ago, and they needed it now. Rudin, whose recent film successes include "The Social Network," "There Will Be Blood," and "No Country for Old Men," is one of the most financially and critically successful producers in the film industry, and Gentile, a double major in film studies and English at Connecticut College, jumped at the chance to deliver the DVD himself.
"There were movie posters all over the walls of the office from all of these amazing films he had produced," said Gentile. "I mentioned to the staff member that I would love the opportunity to work there someday." She gave him her business card. He called her a few months later, and after a brief interview, he walked out of the Scott Rudin offices with the promise of a 2011 summer internship. The internship put Gentile in the center of the entertainment industry, in an office of fewer than 20 in the middle of Times Square.
During his internship, Scott Rudin Productions had three HBO TV shows in development, five movies in production and post-production and five shows on Broadway. Rudin also won the Tony Award for "Book of Mormon" during Gentile's internship. "A-listers and movie stars would walk through the office frequently," said Gentile, who mentioned run-ins with James Gandolfini, Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Chris Rock.
In the thick of it all, Gentile was reading scripts, filing what industry insiders call "coverage," conducting research and even pitching ideas for TV shows and movies. "Coverage is basically a one-page summary of the script," explained Gentile. "I would write half a page of synopsis and half a page of comments and analysis in order to give Rudin and his team something to work with, as well as making a recommendation to 'pass' or 'consider' making the film."
Gentile credits his English classes, his work in the College's Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology and his recent semester abroad at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague with preparing him to work on the front lines of the film industry.
"Dr. Martin is my film major adviser, and she pushes me all the time on film essays. I used that same kind of analytical, active thinking this summer, but in a different way - when I read a script, I try to imagine myself both as a producer and as an audience member. I'd ask myself, 'Would I see this movie?' I'd think about the ideology of the movie and if it would make a good film, and then try to communicate my thoughts to the production staff."
While the majority of his summer was spent at Scott Rudin Productions, Gentile also managed to find time to work with former visiting professor and independent filmmaker Jennie Livingston, most famous for her 1990 documentary "Paris is Burning." "It was interesting working on two opposite ends of the movie industry at the same time. Learning about the independent film world along with the big-budget productions gave me some valuable insight," Gentile said.
While the big-budget experience may have been different from the indy film world, Gentile doesn't have a favorite. "It doesn't matter what the budget is - that's not what concerns me," he said. "The question is: Is it a great story? Rudin talks about how, if you're going to spend two or three years of your life working on something, you've got to be making the kind of movie that discusses and influences the culture and is engaged in the world you're living in. I try to stick with that."
- By Tom Owen
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