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NSU Alumnus Works In Hollywood

Tuesday, August 26, 2014  
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A Norfolk State University alumnus has spent more than 20 years in Hollywood working behind-the-scenes on some of the industry’s biggest films such as “The Wolverine” and “Marley & Me.”

Gregory Earls, who graduated in 1993 with a degree in mass communications, works as a post-production coordinator for 20th Century Fox Studios. Earls is a second generation Spartan. Both his mother and father, Zenobia and Julian Earls, graduated from the University. Earls describes Norfolk State  “as an extension of his family.”

Most recently, he worked post production on the film “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” which was released this summer and earned more than $70 million during its opening weekend. The proud Spartan took some time to speak with the NSU Newsroom about his work in Hollywood.

Q: Mr. Earls, thanks for taking some time to speak with the NSU Newsroom. Please tell us a little about your job at the movie studio? What do you do?

A: Anything for Norfolk State. I’m a post-production coordinator and I work for the post supervisor at 20th Century Fox Studios. Our job basically begins as soon as a film is green lit. The industry is mostly digital now, and there are a many different formats. The technology changes constantly, so we’re perpetually working on how to get the media from the camera into the cutting room. Aside from the Picture Editor, we also work pretty closely with the cinematographer, to help determine the look of the film, and how to achieve it. From there, we’re on through the life of the film until it’s delivered for theatrical release.

Q: How did you get started in the film industry?

A: I originally came to Los Angeles to attend the American Film Institute as a Cinematography Fellow. After graduation, I landed my first job as an assistant at 20th Century Fox. That was in 1993, and Fox has been paying my bills, in one way or another, ever since. As with most people in this town, I found my job through a contact. Going to graduate film school gets a bad rap, but if you have no contacts in Los Angeles, it’s a good place to start. I had an instant network.

Q: How did NSU help prepare you for your current career? What do you envision yourself doing long term?

A: I’m still writing and directing my own stuff, and not a creative day goes by that I’m not referencing something I learned from back at NSU. I was blessed to have some amazing professors who instilled within me a love of the medium, especially Dr. Wilbert Edgerton. If I’m writing or shooting something, I still wonder if he’ll like it. He set a high bar.

Q: How many films, television or video productions have you worked on?

A: A. I’ve worked on about 15 industry films, including, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “The Wolverine,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” I’ve also directed a couple of short films and music videos for Interscope Records.

Q: What advice would you give a student interested in becoming a director or producer in Hollywood?

A: You’re going to start out as an assistant. The most successful assistants are the ones that are resourceful and can solve problems on their own. They become indispensable and have a better chance of moving up the food chain. Don’t be shy about voicing solutions or alternatives to seemingly mundane problems. Also, expand your knowledge beyond film. Keep up on the news, the arts, etc. Work on your social skills. A crew is like family, and it’s important that people enjoy being around you.

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