Every so often, we’ll be spotlighting alumni and what they are up to these days. These Q&A sessions will give you a bit of insight into where the world has taken them since graduation.
This week, the spotlight is on Megan Gruchow (BA/Film Studies ’12) who works as an Archivist for NBCUniversal Archives and Collections
DODGE: Share your career path with us – how did you get where you are now?
MEGAN: I enrolled at Chapman University with the goal of obtaining my B.F.A. in Film Production, and ended up graduating with a B.A. in Film Studies. During my first year at Chapman, I discovered that I enjoyed my film studies classes more than my production ones. Although I loved the history of films and how they connected with audiences, I didn’t know how a degree in film studies would translate into a working career. Thanks to Professor Emily Carman in the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, I quickly began to embrace film archiving and preservation. I did an internship at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Archive in the summer of 2011 where I inspected 35mm Technicolor short films. After graduating from Chapman, I went on to receive my Master’s degree in Moving Image Archive Studies at UCLA. While at UCLA, I did several internships at places such as Western Costume Company, the Oral History Department at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden Historic Collection, and at the NBCUniversal Archives and Collections. Thanks to the connections I made during these internships, I got a part time job at the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library after graduation. In 2015, I was hired to work full time as the Assistant Archivist for NBCUniversal Archives and Collections. Once a Universal film or television show wraps, the NBCUniversal Archives is responsible for acquiring and preserving key production elements for future reference. My job involves accessioning a wide variety of props and costumes, as well as photographs, continuity, and concept art. Some of the films and television shows I have worked on include: Jurassic World, Furious 7, Fifty Shades of Grey, Trainwreck, Straight Outta Compton, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Parks and Recreation, Royal Pains, and Defiance.
DODGE: What was the biggest adjustment you faced after graduation and how did you overcome it?
MEGAN: The film community is very much an insider’s club. Whether you are an actor, a writer, a director, a camera operator, an editor or part of the hundreds of other industry trades and crafts, careers frequently hinge on relationships you’ve been able to build in your chosen field. I always appreciated the fact that college affords a safe and secure environment to learn and gain experiences, but I also realized early on that making contacts and applying skills in the “real world” would be critical for my future.
DODGE: What is the best advice you have received and/or what advice would you give current students?
MEGAN: I strongly encourage Chapman students to take advantage of as many internship opportunities as possible. It’s a great way to apply the skills and knowledge that you obtain in the classroom to real life situations. I would not be working at NBCUniversal if it had not been for my education and, most importantly, my prior internships.
DODGE: What is your favorite memory from your time at Chapman?
MEGAN: I really appreciated the opportunity to attend screenings with guest speakers and hear their stories of working in the industry. Also, Professor Carman hosted dinners with guest speakers in the archival profession. These dinners helped encourage me to pursue a career in film archiving. I also enjoyed working on student film sets and networking with other students. One of my closest friends is someone that I met at Chapman, and thanks to social media I am able to remain in touch with several students and see the projects they are working on now.
DODGE: What have you taken from the classroom and applied to your career?
MEGAN: I learned a great deal about teamwork and staying focused under pressure thanks to several class projects and the time I spent working on student film sets. As it turns out, I’ve come to realize that being at a major studio requires one to work fast and be flexible…important lessons I learned at both Chapman and UCLA. In addition, working in an archive is all about preserving history and as a legacy studio, Universal has contributed so much to the industry’s growth, prosperity and innovation. The insights I gained as a Chapman film student help me every single day that I’m on the job.
DODGE: Have you received any awards or recognitions?
MEGAN: I was involved with Chapman University’s Schweitzer Chapter of Mortar Board and the Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society. I graduated magna cum laude from Chapman in 2012.
Thanks so much for sharing, Megan!