Zach Berg is 28 and an alumnus from the class of 2013. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production, emphasis in directing. He grew up on the east coast, Maryland, and moved out to California to attend Chapman. Since graduating, he has worked all around LA. Recently, he created his own production company, Mythic Creative.
I strongly feel like this is something that should exist to support the Chapman Alumni Network. The Lionsgate event is excellent, but it’s only once a year and can be overwhelming. I know for a lot of people, they prefer the opportunity to network in a more casual setting. That was why I thought about trying a beer/bar night.
My hope with organizing a night like this was that I’d be inspired. I’d get to hear all the different things people were up to and that it would motivate me to do even more. I also hoped it would provide other alumni with the chance to connect and help each other out. Maybe a producer would be looking for an editor, and they’d meet at my event. That would be pretty neat! Really, I didn’t want to have huge expectations; I just wanted to provide something that I felt was missing.
I created a Facebook event, invited every alumni I knew and posted it in both Facebook groups. The initial response was encouraging. Over 30 people said going, and over 250 marked interested. However, I really felt maybe 10-15 people would actually show up.
Boy was I wrong.
My process started by posting on the two Chapman Facebook groups I’m aware of; Chapman Film Connection and the Dodge Alumni group. I asked people to give me feedback on the sort of event they’d want. I got mostly the same information: a weeknight toward the end of the week and at a bar. I gathered suggestions for venues and checked them out online. The Story Tavern seemed like the best place, so I decided to just set a date.
The harder choice was choosing between hosting in West or North LA. Due to my own experience, I knew lots of Alumni from around 2013 (my undergrad graduation class) lived in the North Hollywood area. I think, after talking with people at the event, I’ll try to run 2 a month. We’ll see how that goes, it’s a lot of work, but there is definitely a large contingent of Alumni on the Westside as well.
At the high point in the night, we had 60 alumni crammed into this bar. Typically, the Story Tavern has an open floor backroom, but unfortunately, it was booked out that night. The central part of the bar is filled with tables, which cleared up quickly and we sort of took over.
I want to give a big thank you to the Story Tavern staff. They were so flexible and worked with me to seat us all. In turn, I tried my best to help them and keep people out of the aisles.
It was really great to be able to run into some old friends I hadn’t seen in a while. Plus, I got to connect with a lot of new alumni. For me, the new connections were mostly graduate students, who I didn’t really get to interact with during my time at Chapman. Pretty neat to hear what everyone has been up to.
Overall, the event was a success beyond what I’d hoped for. It was exhausting, but the turnout energized me to continue this and see what we can make of it. I’ve already got 2 other alumni on board to help me out, so I won’t be totally on my own.
This industry is all about connections and setting yourself up for opportunities. That’s my hope for a monthly Chapman bar night. I hope we are creating opportunities for this community. There are so many Chapman people throughout the film and television world; we should really be meeting each other as much as we can.