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 Brian Ducoffe (BA/Screenwriting ’13), who went from majoring in screenwriting to creating commercials for Detroit’s big league sports teams as a Producer/Writer for FOX Sports Detroit. Ducoffe won a local Emmy for his work on the Watch Together Campaign spot featuring Miracle League athlete Punky.
Dodge: Share your career path with us – how did you get where you are now?
BRIAN: So I was a screenwriting major who in my last semester randomly decided to take a documentary class to fill some last minute credits and really liked it. I reached out to at the time the brand new FOX Sports San Diego channel to see if they needed any interns but instead got offered a Production Assistant job. So I spent my last semester at Chapman commuting back and forth and then moved back home after school. By the end of my first baseball season I was offered a Producer position on the Chargers weekly show. Last year, I applied to become a Producer and Writer for FOX Sports Detroit but never seriously considered moving from SAN DIEGO to DETROIT (who would do that!?) But of course I fell in love with the city when I came out for my interview and now I’m in Detroit creating all of the commercials for Tigers Baseball, Red Wings Hockey, Pistons Basketball, and Lions Football for television and our digital platforms.
Dodge: What was the biggest adjustment you faced after graduation and how did you overcome it?
BRIAN: I think just having to do so many things on my own. Chapman’s a great community where people are willing to help each other out on sets and work for free. But then you realize in the real world companies have budgets so you have to wear a lot of hats in order to get something done. You have to do the interview and work the camera and monitor the audio, it can be very one-man band style at work. I made a lot of mistakes, things just slipped through the cracks when I was trying to balance so many different things. So I just had to do a really good job of trying to learn from them so I wouldn’t do them again.
Dodge: What is the best advice you have received and/or what advice would you give current students?
BRIAN: Think locally act globally. Basically, you can do what you wanted in Hollywood but at the local level, and arguably make just as big of an impact on people. I was shocked to learn baseball is highest rated television program in primetime during the summer in most major markets, out-rating major television shows. So you can still tell really meaningful stories and have a lot of eyeballs on your work, plus without driving in LA traffic!
Dodge: What is your favorite memory from your time at Chapman?
BRIAN: Hands down all the times I was fortunate enough to spend with Dr. Elie Wiesel through the Holocaust Education program run by Marilyn Harran. He was such an inspiration to me and my work. But there were so many good times spent at Chapman, whether it was throwing a frisbee while sitting in a fountain or watching Disneyland fireworks from the parking lot rooftops with friends.
Dodge: What have you taken from the classroom and applied to your career?
BRIAN: I met with Professor Mildred Lewis on a weekly basis for all four years at Chapman. I wouldn’t be the storyteller or professional I am today without her, but I’d say the biggest thing I took from her was patience. She taught me a storyteller isn’t someone who just writes or films something, but someone who finishes projects. You have to be able to complete something from beginning to end and she was relentless with me on making sure I finished everything I started in school.
Dodge: Tell us how it feels to win an Emmy.
BRIAN: It was pretty exciting, but Honestly I didn’t really celebrate! I grabbed a pizza and a beer with some friends and was back on set the next day.
Thanks so much for sharing, Brian!