Meet Our Alumni
Our alumni are working in all forms of media and storytelling as well as academia. Whether they earn bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees, they take their Media School education and experiences with all over the world.
Meet a few of our alumni who earned bachelor’s degrees:
Bachelor of Arts
Ryan Black, ’12, and Tom Miller, BAJ’12, now working at their own company, Fox Frame Productions
Long hours and a love for storytelling through film lead Ryan Black and Tom Miller to eventually found Fox Frame Productions, a video production company based in Phoenix, Arizona. Their documentary film, One Day in April, about the Little 500 race, released in 2015. While the two are dreamers at heart, IU gave them the technical know-how to make those dreams a reality.
“We’ve discovered the preparation and paperwork that we were taught to do at IU is actually really beneficial in the real world, especially when balancing multiple projects,” Black said. “I also can’t help but think about my intro production class every time I set up lights or correctly put away a long XLR cable.”
Hannah Fidell, BA’07, filmmaker/director
Films by director Hannah Fidell, BA’07, have debuted at Sundance and have been nominated for Grand Jury Awards at SXSW for six years running. Her film, A teacher, has been picked up for a series on HBO. In 2012, Filmmaker Magazine named Fidell one of the 25 new faces of independent film. Fidell keeps her connections to IU through visits to campus, such as her participation in the Directed by Women series in fall 2015.
Brian Hrastar, BA’96, managing director, Optimus
When Hrastar graduated in 1996 with a degree in telecommunications, he moved to Chicago to start his internship at Optimus, a post-production house focused on creating TV ads for local agencies. Through the years he climbed the company ladder and was named partner in 2015. A year later he became executive producer/managing director.
Aside from his success at Optimus, Hrastar has enjoyed helming the company’s robust internship program, never forgetting the days when he was stocking fridges, picking up lunch orders and delivering tapes.
Elise Jaffe, BA’99, executive producer, Big Teeth Productions
Jaffe majored in telecommunications and children’s production at IU with the intention of working on Sesame Street. After an 18-year career working as a producer for companies like Grey New York, Edelman and Vitamin Pictures, she now creates TV spots for Sesame Street and other video content as an executive producer at Big Teeth Productions, a Chicago-area production studio she started with her husband.
Alex Maloney, BAJ’08, NFL Network
Alex Maloney said he looked at the position as production assistant as a similar experience to graduate school. Since he was going to be at a national network for the most popular sport in the country, he didn’t know how long he was going to be there for and he wanted to make the most of it. His advice for new grads?
“It’s not about how much money you make,” he said. “It’s about where can I go to get the best opportunities. It may not be the first job offered to you. You have to find the place and people that are going to invest in you.”
Sarah Meneely, BAJ’09, associate production manager, Turner Broadcasting
Meneely started working the “vampire shift” of television from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. every night, combing through sports clips to present as highlight reels in the morning and nannying during the day to support herself.
She now works for Turner Broadcasting as an associate production manager, where she manages casting, location, permits, legal papers and other logistical elements of promotional videos. She described television as “organized chaos,” and said working with talent can be like “herding cats,” but keeping the big picture in mind will ensure success.
Tara Martino, BA’04, vice president, National Publicity and Integrated Marketing, Universal Pictures
Martino grew up “obsessed with entertainment” and recalled asking for a subscription to TV Guide magazine for her 10th birthday. In the summer after her junior year at IU, she interned with both E! Entertainment Television and ABC Daytime in Los Angeles, both of which she considered rewarding experiences.
After earning her bachelor’s degree in telecommunications at IU, Martino continued working in the entertainment industry. Before working with Universal, she worked as a talent executive and segment producer for E! and later as a segment producer for ESPN. She eventually joined Universal as a senior publicist before making her way to director of national publicity and media promotions and finally to vice president of national publicity and integrated marketing. Her job requires her to find ways other than trailers or posters to promote new things Universal distributes. This includes celebrity talk shows and other television appearances.
Thom Patterson, BA’87, senior producer, CNN Digital
Patterson has worked at CNN for 30 years, straddling the pre- and post-digital worlds. He wrote and produced hundreds of TV news stories in Washington, D.C., and conducted hundreds of interviews with newsmakers on Capitol Hill and at the White House. After 15 years of broadcast television experience for CNN, Patterson saw the internet was changing how journalists could produce news and wanted to join.
“I had to get online as soon as possible, just to make use of that library that you have at your fingertips and all that data,” Patterson said. “In every data set there’s a story, and it’s just begging to be told in some way.”
Patterson has now worked at CNN Digital for nearly 20 years, where he develops, reports, writes, produces and manages CNN Digital content for special, in-depth projects.
Chad Stum, BA’09, managing director and founder, Original Six Media; director of video productions, IU Communications
After serving in the military for four years, Stum studied telecommunications at IU. When he graduated in 2009, he had plans to drive to L.A. with a friend but decided against it the night before and moved to Chicago instead. Three years later, he started his own full-service production company, Original Six Media.
He recently moved back to Bloomington and took a position as assistant director of video productions at IU Communications, where he leads a production team that creates commercial and marketing content for IU’s campuses.