Michelle Thieme ‘13

I was born in the Bay Area and raised by two loving parents; my father, an architect, and my mother, a graphic designer. I have one younger brother who currently attends CSULB. I grew up in an extremely creative household where I was exposed to many facets of art. I was constantly involved in soccer and dance, as well as attending many San Francisco Giants games. Naturally I was interested in art and a teamwork environment; however it was not until the end of high school where I really became fascinated with filmmaking. Choosing Long Beach State was the best decision I have ever made. Art, film, RA life, school spirit, and sports… I fully indulged myself in college life. I focused on Graphic Design and Illustration. Meanwhile, I volunteered to help on student films and eventually picked up a minor in Film & Electronic Arts. While I was in school, I was a Resident Assistant (RA) for CSULB housing for three years. I played on the CSULB Women’s Club soccer team for three years and played co-ed intramural soccer for all five years. Yes, I was a super senior, and felt that I accomplished everything that I wanted upon graduating from CSULB.

I am currently working in Los Angeles on the CBS television show, “Extant” Season 2 as the Art Department Assistant. I have been working in the film industry for a little under two years now. Some of my past shows include “Bones” (Props PA), “Kingdom” (Office PA), and “Gang Related” (Set Decoration PA).

Networking, networking, networking! Starting as a freshman at CSULB, I constantly contacted people working in the film industry to learn about their professions, which helped me figure out which path I wanted to take. During the summer after my sophomore year, I worked as a Production Assistant in San Francisco on my first film, “The Five Year Engagement”. Toward the end of college, I earned an internship with Dick Clark Productions and was exposed to Red Carpet production at the American Music Awards and the Golden Globes. During my last semester as a super senior, I advanced to an internship with Marvel Studios in Research & Development and Studio Operations. I am a firm believer in internships; these prepared me for the ‘real world’ and gave way to great connections and references toward my professional jobs after college.

The hustle and bustle of show business is real, yet it still amazes me. It is rewarding to see the passion in a large crew of people, all collaborating toward a common goal, especially under time restrictions. We shoot one episode in approximately eight days, while always prepping for the next. As a whole, the Art Department is in charge of creating, building and decorating the sets. It is incredible to see our department’s vision come to life, after walking on a built set. I am also proud to be working on a show that is produced by CSULB’s very own, Steven Spielberg.

No, I actually thought I wanted to be a designer in motion graphics at the beginning of college, but then over time I discovered that Art in Film was my passion. I always knew I wanted to work in a creative environment, but did not know exactly which area fit me best within the film world. I started out in Set Decoration, tried my hand in the Production office, the Props Department, and then eventually ended up in the Art Department, which suits me well.

Complete excitement, with a hint of panic. In the moment, I felt very proud and accomplished; all of my hard work had paid off. I was relieved that I completed all that I had wanted, but also knew that the times right after college can be the toughest.

The hardest part about life after graduation was not figuring out what I wanted to do or where I wanted to work, but physically finding a job in the film and television world. Breaking into the industry with no previous family connections is difficult, but not impossible. It took a lot of rejection, perseverance, and constant networking for someone to take a chance on me as a ‘newbie’ in the industry.

As a Resident Assistant, not only did I obtain strong coordinating and management skills, but I gained confidence and overall life experience as well. From my college courses, I advanced in my technical art skills… traditional drawing, painting, digital art production, film lighting and even woodworking, to name a few. The hands on environment that CSULB provided helped me further my art and film knowledge. The class that challenged me the most with creative concept thinking was my Illustration courses taught by Rick Reese. Critiques were my favorite; constructive criticism benefitted my thought process and challenged me to strive for the best. Plus, Reese provided a healthy creative atmosphere… and donuts!

I joined the CSULB Alumni Association to stay connected to the college that I love so much, and to remind me of how attending CSULB had changed my life for the better. I am a huge believer in the Art program at CSULB and want to stay updated on current events. Also, I am a true 49er sports fan, especially for the Dirtbags. I want to keep updated on all things Beach!

Enjoy your final year in college as much as you can. If you do not have a concrete plan as soon as you move your tassel from one side to the other, that is ok! Do not worry about landing a job as soon as you graduate, because realistically it takes time to set a plan in motion after a semester of going through the emotions of being a senior. Believe in what you have accomplished and follow your passion. You will be working for the rest of your life, so better find a job that makes you happy!

My current plan is to work as an Art Department Coordinator in film or television and then hopefully move up to a Graphic Designer in Film within five years. I want to challenge myself to become a better visual artist and continue to work in a teamwork environment. It would also be a dream to work for Lucas Films, Pixar, or even reconnect with my friends at Marvel Studios… all in all I will always be connected to CSULB no matter where I end up. Go Beach!