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Devin Whetstone Wins Emmy Award for TV Commercial Campaign

Devin Whetstone couldn't afford to attend the Academy of Art University's School of Motion Pictures & Television without finding a job to supplement his financial aid, so he took a position with a local television station to help out. Little did he know that a year later, his work for that television station would win him an Emmy Award. Not bad for a second year student!

Devin was responsible for the production of a series of commercial advertisements for Bay Area television station KRON. The spots put to the test his skills with voiceover, storyboarding, sound design, and more. After the excitement wound down, we spoke to Devin about his Emmy-winning work, his time at the Academy, and his plans for the future:

How did you wind up at KRON?

Since I have to support myself and pay for school, I was forced to immediately find a job after I moved here. I think being desperate helped a lot because it made me extremely persistent. I started applying to all the local TV stations, calling back at least once a week. I went almost three months without anything, continuously being led on and getting nowhere. Eventually I discovered the name of the Creative Services Director at KRON and called him directly. He gave me an impromptu interview over the phone and asked me to come in and meet him in person. I did, and he hired me a few weeks later to do motion graphics and graphic design for their promotions department.

Can you speak more about the specifics of your duties at KRON?

I create any type of promotional material for the station, or programming on the station. Whether it's a thirty-second television commercial or a print advertisement in a magazine, I do it all. I also create animated introductions for televised specials and documentaries.

How did you receive the assignment to work on the Emmy-winning promo campaign?

My boss came to me with the idea and I came up with a visual concept and look that he liked. As soon as the script was finished, he handed it over to me. My boss wrote the spots and brought me the voiceover. I then storyboarded and planned out each spot, coming up with an overall look and theme that would tie all three together.

Once I finished pre-production, I began designing the graphic elements in Photoshop along with one other designer. Once we finished, I began animating the newly created elements to the voiceover in After Effects. After all the motion was blocked and aligned to the script, I began polishing and cleaning up the movement. Finally, my boss and I searched through thousands of production music CDs until we found the right songs. Once the songs were selected, I brought them in to Final Cut to lay down the music and do the sound design.

How did you find out that your work had been nominated?

I came to work one day and my boss handed me a certificate that said, "Congratulations, you've been nominated for an Emmy." It was unbelieveable. I didn't think I would ever be nominated for an Emmy. I didn't even think my animation was that good. Needless to say, I was shocked, and so were my parents. And it was even more exciting to win!

Devin with his Emmy

How would you describe your time at the Academy thus far?

This is my second year, and I am enjoying it. My main goal since I've started here has been to network and meet as many people as possible. The Academy is a great place to do that. The focus of my degree is directing and cinematography , and I've met many people who have led me to real work in the industry.

What advice would you give to someone like yourself who is looking to work professionally in television?

I would say that you need to do whatever you can to get your foot in the door. Do an internship; find out the name of the person who would hire you and give them a call. Put together a good reel and don't just drop it off — try to get face time. Let your future boss know who you are and what you look like. These companies receive thousands of resumes each day. Unless the right people know who you are, they won't even glance at it. You could be the most qualified person in the world, but if they don't see your resume or reel, it doesn't do you any good.

What are your plans for the future?

Well, a few friends and I made a deal with a shoe company called Macbeth to create six commercials over the following year. We've already completed three. Those commercials are viewable on the Macbeth Web site, in the media section. Besides three more shoe commercials, we have just agreed to do a music video for Blink 182 singer Tom Delonge's new band, Angels and Airwaves.

Long term, I'd really just like to work as a director or director of photography for TV commercials and music videos, and maybe do a little motion graphics here and there for my own projects. However, I want to concentrate on cinematography. So if anyone is in need of a director or a cinematographer, don't hesitate to track me down. I'm willing to work with anyone, and I want to work on as many projects as I can in the next semester!

For more information on our Motion Pictures & Television program, please visit our Motion Pictures & Television School pages.

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