Finding Community

Alumna Kaylee Carson shares how she’s found a similar sense of community as a film professional in Los Angeles that she first experienced at SFUAD

December 2015—In August, Kaylee Carson (’12) celebrated her third “LAversary”; that is, she made a point to take a moment to appreciate all that she’s gained since she moved here three years ago. Carson moved to Los Angeles right after graduation—working nonstop since she landed, including jobs in major industry productions such as Criminal Minds and The Neighbors.

What’s more, she says it wouldn’t be possible without the connections she made at the university. She contacted alumnus Jon Deiner when she arrived in L.A. “I asked if he could help me find a job,” says Carson. “And he told me ‘Absolutely, I’ve been waiting for graduates to contact me so I can give back.’ ”

Deiner hired her for two seasons on ABC Studios’ The Neighbors, a comedy about a family who moves into a community filled with extraterrestrials. She has also worked as office production assistant at Showtime’s Ray Donovan, for the pilots of ABC Studios’ Mixology and FTP Productions’ The Mason Twins, FX’s You’re the Worst, and NBC Universal’s About a Boy. She’s also entered the world of props: She used a typewriter to make props for a 1980s set on VideoSyncrasy. In addition to her everyday work, she joined the art department for the 48 Hour Los Angeles Film Festival, where she had creative control over the props.

A combination of Carson’s dedication to hard work and the hands-on experience she gained at SFUAD has paved a smoother path in the film industry. As a student, she interned for Cowboys and Aliens and HBO’s The Sunset Limited, which starred Samuel L. Jackson and was directed by Tommy Lee Jones. “That was my first taste of what it means to be on a professional set,” Carson says.

Originally from the college town of Iowa City, Carson knew she wanted to pursue film and television in some capacity, but after visiting SFUAD and witnessing the sense of community, she knew she wanted to be here. “What really turned me on was seeing a freshman on stage setting up the lights and cameras. I wanted that to be me.”

It was also in this community where she met her first key mentors, including Brent Kliewer, Hank Rogerson, and Brad Wolfley. “To have such a close relationship with professionals who are your teachers is something that I could only have at SFUAD.”

With this strong sense of community that has helped Carson on her path, she tries to maintain a similar work environment. “I’ve made some really valuable connections. Pola Shreiber, the prop master at The Neighbors, for example, has been more than a mentor to me. She’s a dear friend who got me into the props department.”

Now Carson hopes to give back to the SFUAD community: “Jon and I wish more graduates would reach out to us,” she says. “They should be loud about what they want,” she advises. “No one can help you get where you want to go unless you tell them. That’s one of the biggest lessons I learned out here.” —Nayereh Doosti