Accented Alumnus: James Blankenfeld

Working both ends of the camera

By Alyssa Wherry
Staff Writer

December 6, 2012

Each year a few hundred students graduate from Lock Haven University and receive a diploma. However, being handed a diploma isn’t the exciting part; what you do with that education is what’s impressive.

James Blankenfeld, a 2009 Lock Haven University graduate, has definitely used his. James

Blankenfeld had a love for film that started when he was young.

“I remember in 9th grade literature class, we were reading Shakespeare and I hated writing papers. So I got together with a few of my friends after reading our first play and decided that instead of writing the mandatory term paper, we would make a horrible, embarrassing video re-enacting the play,” Blankenfeld said.

His teacher awarded him an A on the project and helped fuel his passion for film. He joined the drama club, began acting in school productions, started getting involved behind the camera and began to surround himself with everyone that shared an interest in filmmaking.

Blankenfeld brought this interest to Lock Haven when he majored in communication and continued to stay active in the theater. Classes such as Dr. Kline’s News Broadcasting taught him valuable lessons in broadcasting. He learned how to operate a camera, how to edit, how to start from scratch with an idea and make it come to live on the screen.

“It was a very helpful class,” says Blankenfeld. “I still catch myself referring back to a lot of things Dr. Kline taught me in my career four years later.”

Lock Haven also offered him a lot of hands on experience through being in front of the camera, working behind the scenes using a camera, and editing and writing.

Blankenfeld’s journey was just beginning. While in school, he was given the opportunity of an internship working production on ABC’s “Wifeswap.” This experience helped prepare him for work after graduation by giving him insight into the behind the scenes as well as a full understanding of what it takes to produce a television show.

After graduation, Blankenfeld continued to succeed. He landed a job as a production assistant for the show “Project Runway” as his first job out of college. Although a production assistant is a basic entry level job for anyone wanting to start a career in television production, Blankenfeld states that “It’s by no means a glamorous job; however, the best production assistants are the ones that go the furthest.” His job involved driving the producers around when scouting locations in New York City, working closely with producers and production managers in order to make sure filming went smoothly and securing the set doors when filming.

The job of a production assistant is not a dream job, even for entry level. The work required may turn many people away. For Blankenfeld this was not the case. He stayed dedicated to the job and his hard work paid off. After filming was finished, he was asked by numerous people to be taken along to other shows which helped him branch out to working as a camera assistant for shows such as HGTV’s “Design Star” and “Celebrity Apprentice” on NBC.

Blankenfeld worked as a camera assistant behind the scenes until two years ago, when his interest in acting began to resurface. He felt it as his calling to be in front of the camera rather than behind it. Working 14 hour days, 6 days a week left little time for him to pursue an acting career so instead he decided to take a break from behind the scenes and pursue an acting career.

Since he has made this decision things are going great. New York City has plenty of opportunities to act and be in television productions, making it an easy switch for Blankenfeld. Landing jobs can be difficult in acting as well as in being a camera assistant, “But you just have to know what it is you want and follow that dream until you’ve achieved it,” commented Blankenfeld .

Blankenfeld is currently cast in a run of “Aida” at the Metropolitan Opera and working on two films that he wrote; a paranormal thriller and an indie comedy. The films will start production after the new year and have already received widespread distribution upon their completion. Both films have also received heavy industry interest. Blankenfeld also completed shooting an episode of “The Good Wife” on CBS and is working on NBC’s shows “Infamous” and “Deception.”

Alyssa Wherry is a senior majoring in communication and can be contacted at awherry@lhup.edu.

 
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