Fitchburg State Alumni Find Success Behind the Scenes of Famed Television Shows

By Makenzie MacDonald

Kevin Ouellette and Ken Tolley both graduated from Fitchburg State University with a major in Film. Ouellette is now currently working for Leopard USA, a company that produces many well-known shows such as House Hunters International. As for Tolley, he edits and reviews the many films that we see on T.V. such as, “Real House Wives of New York,” “Chopped,” and “Say Yes to the Dress.”

“All these jobs were different positions, in some case I was a camera operator and I have since moved onto editing,” explained Tolley. “That’s the nice thing about freelance, you can hone in on skills you enjoy and continue to learn and evolve.” Tolley’s position requires him to use all of the footage he receives from the filmers, edit it, and turn it into a show.

“I began working for Leopard USA eight years ago as an Assistant Editor. Gradually I moved from AE, to lead Assistant Editor, Post Production Coordinator, and Post Supervisor,” stated Ouellette. A Post Supervisor keeps track of the schedule, assists the Executive Producers, as well as hire new Editors and Assistant Editors.

However, his work does not stop there, Ouellette is also the Post Supervisor for popular TV shows like, Man Caves, Big Beach Builds, and Mormon Love for Facebook Watch, which is his most recent project.

Tolley also worked as a camera operator, as mentioned, deciding to improve all his qualities as a film enthusiast and was able to travel to all different cities in America as well as across the sea to London, England, “ It was fun at a young age, all while getting paid.”

“I guess I always hoped I would work for a successful TV show or Movie. I originally thought I would work on movies but I found the hours incredibly difficult” explained Ouellette. “Post Production is more suited for regular hours and a normal social life.”

Film and Television is very tough because it’s freelancing,” also explained Tolley, “Very few places hire “staff employees” so you end up working on a lot of shows.” However, Tolley expressed that all that hard work pays off in the end, and was all exciting to do as well.

Ouellette chose Fitchburg State to further his education due to the fact of its affordability as well as very hands-on program, “You didn’t have to wait 1 or 2 years learning theory before getting access to equipment,” stated Ouellette. Tolley described Fitchburg State University as an intriguing campus, “FSU exposed me to Cameras, Edit machines, and lighting equipment, but more importantly, the teachers exposed me to filming concepts, editing styles and cinematography breakdowns.”

Ouellette and Tolley started off their careers through different internships based in New York City. Afterward, Ouellette and Tolley continued to work as freelancers and joined projects when given the opportunity. Many of those projects for Ouellette involved the production of commercials for Jose Cuervo, as well as TV shows like the Travel Channel. Tolley pursued an internship at Original Media, and was later hired after three months and worked on the popular television series, “La Ink.”

“What I enjoy most about my job is that it’s not the same thing every day,” expressed Ouellette, “I have had the opportunity to work on a range of different shows for different networks.” Ouellette has continued to live his life in Brooklyn, traveling to his job every day that is located near Grand Central Station. Ouellette explained how he enjoyed being able to be in control of the footage that is presented and finalize his work to the best form it could be in, “I think people who work in Post Production are kind of control freaks,” he jokingly mentioned.

I love my job, I love editing and creating stories and I find the most difficult days are the most rewarding,” explained Tolley, “The footage, the interview bites, and the B-roll all can be adjusted to create an emotion or viewpoint.”

The message the Fitchburg State alums want to get across to future and current film majors, “I would say that NYC and LA are the places that will have the most work in TV and film, like they say about NY ‘if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere’,” explained Ouellette. “Have fun and save up enough money to move to LA or NYC,” added Tulley.

As for up and coming graduates, “My advice would be to take an internship in the field you want to get into,” explained Ouellette, “Don’t settle for something you aren’t interested in.”

“Never act like you’re too good for a position or act like you know everything,” continued Tolley, “Build relationships, be grateful, and work hard, that’s all it takes.”



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