David Higgins was surrounded by aspiring film students as he spoke about his own journey from being a personal assistant to owning a production company.
“Learn to fail brilliantly in film school, because once you get out into the real world, you won’t get to fail as much,” Higgins said. “Film school offers not only this wide breath of information for you to take in … but your professors give you a chance to push the boundaries.”
Higgins, a radio-television-film alumnus, returned as a speaker for Media Industry Conversations, a lecture series meant to bring film and communication professionals to speak with students about the media landscape.
In his own work, Higgins said he likes to collaborate with people with different skill sets.
“If I’m the smartest person in the room, we always have problems, because I want writers who are smarter than I am,” Higgins said.
After 20 years in the industry, Higgins has earned many producer credits such as his work on “Hard Candy,” an indie film starring Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson, along with “Big Momma’s House,” which grossed over $173 million worldwide.
His independent company, Launchpad Productions, has worked on films such as “The Damned” and Academy Award shortlisted documentary, “Jujitsuing Reality.”
Higgins said he turned down his first job offer in Los Angeles, because the position did not offer enough creative freedom. He advised students not to follow his lead and to take the first job they can get in the industry.
“In hindsight, I should have said yes,” he said. “I should have said yes in that room because the hardest thing to do is to get your first job in Hollywood.”
RTF junior Will Conant, who attended the lecture, said hearing an alumnus speak about the career field he plans to pursue was a relatable learning experience.
“I’m able to get information from someone who sat in my position, someone who went through the program (who) is doing what I want to be doing in the future,” Conant said. “It makes it so relevant to me as a student now.”
Many speakers come from the large alumni base, however, Media Industry Conversations speakers come from all over the industry and country. RTF sophomore Victoria Keo, who also attended the lecture, said she views these lectures as a valuable resource for students.
“I’m grateful that they have these opportunities that are free, geared towards what we want to do, and that they’re on campus,” Keo said.