Take 2: Elon in Los Angeles Gears Up for Its Second Year

The Elon in Los Angeles program, a nine-week experience during which students live and intern in L.A., started its second year May 30 with a more ambitious structure and more enthusiasm from the students.

While the 28 students have only been in southern California for a week and a half, they have already begun work on producing their first of four webisodes, have spent 12 hours every Monday in either a production or acting class and have begun internships at prominent organizations in Los Angeles, such as MTV, L.A. Film Festival, Escape Artists, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and VH1.

“I think as we come out here the second year, the first week and a half has been excellent,” said J. McMerty, coordinator of the Elon in Los Angeles program. “I feel more confident in running the program, the students have been really good at buying into the philosophy of what we’re trying to do here. I couldn’t be more thrilled at how the program is going at this point.”

And the program has undergone more than a few changes from year one to year two:

  • Eight more students were accepted
  • Student majors range from Communications to English to acting to music technology
  • An acting class, taught by actress Marilyn McIntyre, was added
  • Alumna Jen De Minco (’04) is directing the cultural and program events for the students, such as studio tours, live tapings, guest speakers, panelists, a mentorship program, alumni/student gatherings, group theatre tickets, museum and screening events that go hand in hand with their syllabus
  • Alumnus Laith Majali (’05) is helping with the production class
  • More equipment is available to the students
  • School of Communications program assistant Maggie Mullikin is acting as the internship coordinator for the students not majoring in Communications

Not to mention, McMerty said, the students are being asked to do more work this year than they were last year, which is breeding a higher level of passion.

Students in the Elon in L.A. program discuss their internship experiences.

“We have the talent, we have the promotional side of things, we have the producers, directors,” said sophomore strategic communications major Paul Busby, who is interning with Nutone Records. “I think we’re a good team. And I think the program was very successful last year and created a strong foundation for us to build off of.”

Even though this year’s batch of undergraduates weren’t in L.A. last year, they’re still noticing the effects of being part of an energetic, diverse group of students.

“The people here in this program are so easy to get along with and we’re all just testing out the waters here, but so far I think all of us have really loved the diversity that L.A. has to offer,” said senior acting major Joanna Bateman, who is interning with casting director Ronnie Yeskel. “There’s just this vibe here that’s exciting and fresh and new, and we all just are kind of running and jumping in together and it’s scary. But it’s thrilling, and I think it’s all going to be worth it.”

McMerty likes to temper his optimism every once in a while because he knows the second year of the program is only 10 days old. But he balances reasonable goals for the students and program with lofty ones.

“I think my goal for the end of this program is everybody feels like they have a lot to put on their reels, everybody’s got something that they’re proud of that they can use to gain employment,” he said. “I would love for us to win the student Academy Award with one of these short films. But for the most part I want everyone to have a good, safe summer and get to know and demystify Los Angeles.”

The Elon in L.A. class listens to J. McMerty teach class Monday.

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