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Entertainment Technology Students at Howell Meet with Associate Director of NJ Motion Picture and Television Commission

Students in the Entertainment Technology section of the Fine and Performing Arts Magnet Program at Howell High School recently had the chance to speak with David Schoner, the Associate Director of the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission.

The Motion Picture and Television Commission assists film, television, music video and streaming projects in setting up shop in the Garden State. The office recently was successful in reinstating a tax credit system that attracts larger productions. As a result, TV shows like NBC's “The Enemy Within” and Warner Brother's upcoming “Joker” film made New Jersey their home. New Jersey has a long and storied history in the industry, as Fort Lee and the north Jersey area are the original home of the motion picture industry.

Mr. Schoner discussed how the state was once a hotbed of activity at the turn of the last century prior to the shift to California in the 1920s. He displayed numerous works shot in New Jersey in the last ten years, with projects ranging from a Beyonce Super Bowl commercial, music videos for Ariana Grande and Eminem, the opening to “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” to major sequences in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Students received guidance from Mr. Schoner regarding proactive approaches to applying for film schools, how to network effectively within the entertainment world and wisdom learned from productions he himself led in the past. He encouraged the class to maintain contact with each other and alumni in the future, stressing that collaboration often leads to more diverse opportunities in the future.

Mr. Schoner spoke from experience as several FPAC ET Video students have gone on to intern with or work alongside him in the past, including Ken Dwyer (Class of 2015), Christopher Boncimino ('16), Zach Miller ('16), Tim Preston ('16) and Mell Hirsch ('18). Scott Napolitano, the program’s teacher, was also an intern with Mr. Schoner at one point in time. Over the summer of 2018, seniors Juliana Santamauro and Annie Fleisch, as well as junior Lulu Chouha were fortunate enough to work alongside several of these alums and Mr. Schoner himself on the forthcoming TV pilot "Arthur Futuro."

During the group discussion, Mr. Schoner explained that contrary to a popular myth, there is work to be had in the entertainment field but the key is determination and hustle, with persistence being a necessary trait for success. He also recommended that if students are technically inclined, to not be afraid to immerse themselves and learn all aspects of the camera or editing or lighting before going straight to work when opportunities present themselves.

With the Garden State Film Festival approaching at the end of March, Mr. Schoner made clear that these public events are perfect opportunities for students to meet potential future colleagues and employers, as well showcase their hard work. Howell High School will be well represented at the Garden State Film Festival with three films, "The Art of Observation," "Broken Rocketship," and "Do Me Right/Wrong," screening on March 27th and 28th.

After their meeting with Mr. Schoner students left with a better understanding of the film industry and what the future can hold for them if they are willing to commit.  

David Schoner speaks with Howell students