Final Destination creator gives film students insight about working in the film industry

Students at Cosumnes River College got to experience a presentation from special guest Jeffrey Reddick, creator and screenwriter of the Final Destination franchise, as part of Film Professor Mark Steensland’s Horror Genre class.

Reddick was invited to present in the class to talk to students about Final Destination, which was going to be shown and analyzed in class, and talk to students about the film industry. He also offered film students helpful advice and tips on things they need to know about  working in the industry.

“I think it adds a lot,” said Steensland. “I think it creates a different kind of experience for students to have exposure to somebody, especially in the business, directly connected with something like the film you’re watching.”

Reddick discussed with the class over Google Hangouts some history of the film, his inspirations, how he got the idea and talked about some of his other works. Students then were able to ask him any questions they had about the film, industry or screenwriting process.

Lance Earl, 29, a video editing major and a student enrolled in the class, said he enjoyed the special guest aspect of the class.

“I liked the fact that it’s someone from within my major or within the career field, and it’s someone who has written such a well-received film such as Final Destination,” said Earl.

One thing he said that stood out to him was how Reddick explained that sometimes studios can bring in multiple screenwriters to work on someone’s project, which can oftentimes change the idea completely.

As someone who has been working in the film industry for a long time, Reddick had some insight for aspiring CRC film students about the field.

At 14, Reddick got his first step into the film industry when he sent New Line Cinema studio producer Robert Shaye a draft of a prequel to “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” Reddick’s favorite film and a significant influence on his work, which began a relationship with the studio that landed him an internship and led to him working for the studio for eleven years.

“My advice always to film students is to make films and make them and keep making them and keep growing as an artist,” Reddick said.

“You’ve got to not let rejection crush your spirit,” Reddick said. “You have to find your voice.”

Reddick advised students to focus on the stories they’d like to tell and make sure it’s an area they enjoy.

“Focus on whatever would make you happy writing for the next ten years,” said Reddick. “Whether it be dramas, historical pieces, thrillers or horror films, focus on that genre, read every script that you can get your hands on in that genre so that you can develop your skills and work on that.”

In such a competitive industry, connections are often encouraged as essential to reach success. However, Reddick said content is just as important.

“No matter how many connections you have, if you don’t actually have the quality of work to back it up then it doesn’t matter,” said Reddick. “If you haven’t really learned much about filmmaking and you haven’t done anything, you can make all the contacts you want but no one is going to actually just give you something.”

Good content will get you attention, Reddick said, but it may take awhile. Therefore, students should always remember to persevere.

“You have to be committed to working 10 years. You have to say, ‘I will work in this field for 10 years; I will work at achieving this dream for 10 years,’” Reddick said.

“I think it’s important to remind yourself why you’re doing this because holding onto that and enjoying the small successes is what’s going to keep you going.”