ALUMS IN ACTION! Featuring Celina, Hyekang, Mackenzie, Adam


What production are you currently working on?

Celina BA’15: DOPESICK – a limited series for Hulu about the opioid crisis.

Hyekang BA’14: Dopesick – Hulu Limited Series

Mackenzie BA’20: Dopesick

Adam BA’15: Dopesick – Hulu Limited Series

What is your job on set and what are some of your roles?

Celina: I am the assistant to the Producer so I work mostly in the office. My tasks vary day to day but my main role is to provide administrative support to the producer. I work closely with people at the associate level in casting and at the studios to streamline above-the-line operations. I also interface with the production office and ADs quite a bit – it’s the typical production job, I put out fires and do a LOT of communicating and disseminating information.

Hyekang: I work in the production office in the Accounting Department. My title is 2nd Assistant Accountant.

Mackenzie: I am an Office PA. I make the sides every night and am responsible for filing the receipts of the purchases made on the production’s credit cards.

Adam: I work in the production office, in the Set Decoration department as their coordinator.

Did any of you ever work together in your time at Cinema?

Celina: Adam and I were in the same graduating class and worked together on many projects both in and outside of school. Hyekang was a senior during my first Summer Intensive so we worked together on a few films.

Hyekang: I worked with Celina West and Adam Stynchula before on student films and after we graduated I worked with them at VCUarts Cinema.

Mackenzie: I was a few years behind the others I knew in the office so I unfortunately never had the opportunity to directly work with them.

Adam: I worked with Celina West and Hyekang Shin before on student films and after we graduated I worked with them at VCUarts Cinema.

What is it like working with other Cinema alums on professional sets?

Hyekang: It’s always a pleasure to see other VCU alums on productions and to hear about how others are getting on. You have to work with a lot of people and a lot of them are strangers. It’s nice to see a familiar face or at least have a similar background.

Mackenzie: It is an instant comfort knowing there is a Cinema alumni working on the same project as you because even if you did not go to school at the same time as them, you have things to talk about and feel less like you are surrounded by strangers.

Adam: It’s a breath of fresh air seeing Cinema alums on set – you’re usually surrounded by people you’ll only know on this show, and it’s important to have people where you have history and shared experiences with. The more there are, the more confident I feel.

Is it important to have people you know with you on set? If yes, why?

Celina: Absolutely. It’s good to have someone in each department that you can go to for help or with questions and it’s that much better if you and that person already have a relationship outside the context of the show. There is at least one Cinema alum in 10 departments on this show.

Hyekang: It makes things a lot easier. Plenty of talented, smart, professional people do fine on a production where they don’t know anyone. Of course, it’s easier when you have that network or few compatriots that help you navigate the sets and personalities on a production, especially if it’s your first few times. I would say it’s much more important for those starting out to have a humble, professional attitude. Again, a lot of people working on a production are virtually strangers working together for the first time but their professionalism allows them to listen to each other, treat each other respectfully and get the work done.

Mackenzie: I do not think that it is necessary but I do think it helps keep your morale up on a long day and makes a new environment more welcoming. 

Adam: Yes – just lightens the load. You have people you trust who are generally in the same situation as you, that can guide you without making you feel down, build you up, and always share a laugh about some ridiculous thing you did way back when.

What part of Cinema helped prepare you the most for the real world?

Celina: The Summer Intensive was invaluable in helping replicate what life is like as a full-time filmmaker. It helped me develop the soft skills necessary to keep up with the fast-paced environment on film sets. Also learning some of the jargon spared me from a few awkward conversations.

Hyekang: The focus on collaboration.

Mackenzie: The summer intensives definitely helped me be the most prepared for what to expect in the real world because you get the hustle and bustle of how big television and feature sets are like. It puts the hierarchy of jobs in action and the industry professionals on set are there to support you with anything you may not know and to give feedback based on their real-life experiences in the context of your project.

Adam: The little bit of knowledge of all the different departments and how to deal with other people.

What was the transition from school to working in the industry like?

Hyekang: Not too bad. It took a while for me to actually get my first gig. Spent a couple of years working odd jobs and food/service until I got my first job as a clerk. 

Mackenzie: I think I was lucky because there were so many shows in town at the time that I  graduated that I was able to get a job but I know it is not always that easy and when these shows end, who knows what getting a job will look like for me. I think it is important that I made a good impression on my peers so that they knew that I was a hard worker and good at a variety of things so that if one of them knew about a job, they felt confident recommending me. 

Adam: Pretty simple, just knew someone who asked me to be a PA. Then you hit the road bump of, oh wait – I’m on a real set now and I shouldn’t say things like “Hi I just graduated film school, wanna hear a joke about a C-47?”

From Left to Right: Hyekang, Adam, Celina, Mackenzie on the set of Dopesick