Within the television department there are many impressive stories that are told about students; past and present. Kyle Cogan's name happens to be one that resonates throughout the halls as quite the talent amongst those who have graduated. In a recent interview with Mr. Cogan, we asked him a series of questions about his time at Columbia College, his experience with internships and the most important question, where his talent has landed him today. I can assure you we had no problems getting answers from him, he was very excited to share his story with us.
What was your major at Columbia College?
Television Post Production- Visual Effects and Motion Graphics
What made you chose Columbia College?
I had no idea what I really wanted to do. I visited a bunch of other schools like Purdue, and U of I, but couldn't see myself actually getting anything done there besides partying. When I came to visit Columbia, I visited the Film, Animation and TV departments. I saw that people were going to school to do what I loved and I knew instantly that this was the only school for me. I was on the fence with what department to choose, but after talking to Michael Neiderman about my love of sports, graphic design, music and sketch comedy my mind was made up immediately, the rest is history.
-What internships did you have? (We definitely allowed some bragging from him on this one)
I had three great internships over the past couple years.
My first internship was at Daily Planet, a post-production house in Chicago. I was able to work with a team of skilled motion designers to create the introduction video on the JumboTron intro for the Chicago Blackhawks 2008/2009 seasons as well as their recent Stanley Cup run. At Daily Planet, I was also given the opportunity to work with 2D animation on a music video called "Love Song for Buddy" by the band Headlights.
My second internship was for a Chicago music show called JBTV. JBTV is a Chicago-based show dedicated to music and music lovers. The show has continuously hosted many of the biggest names in modern rock history early in their careers from Green Day to MegaDeth, and the Dave Mathews Band to Angels and Airwaves, JBTV is the longest running source for modern music television in the nation. In January 2010, I posted a documentary on YouTube I made in the Documentary for Television class at Columbia. It was about my friends band, and soon after the company's general manager had called me asking to come in for an interview to be an intern. During the first few weeks, I attended a meeting about a possible new show opening, and after listening I pitched an idea that came to me on the fly, and they loved it. A couple days and meetings later, I directed and animated the intro for the newly reformatted JBTV, and in 2011it won a Chicago/Midwest Emmy for Outstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence Off Camera: Graphics/Animation. It was such an amazing opportunity given by JBTV and such a great honor to win the award.
My third and most recent internship was with NFL Films out of Mount Laurel New Jersey. As a football player and long time fan, it was always been a dream of mine to do something associated with the NFL. I only needed a couple more credits to finish out my final semester and I was lucky enough to finish them out with NFL Films. At NFL Films, I was a motion graphics intern working with Cinema 4D and After Effects.
During the internship they had me design and animate the player intros for the show Top 100 as well as additional graphic elements for each segment. We were also able to incorporate my designs into a web friendly format for Facebook and twitter allowing the fans to download my graphics as wallpapers for their computers or Facebook cover art for the profiles. It was a huge thrill to see my work and designs broadcasted on a national level especially one with such weight as the NFL.
How have you been able to use your classes from Columbia in the "real world?”
In my classes, my professors were always encouraging me to be ambitious with certain projects and I feel that the pressure they put on me in class has only helped me in all my work in the real world. Also the fact that in the TV Department, you learn how to do everything from shooting and directing, to editing and producing. Columbia had me so prepared, I feel like by the end of my junior year I could have taken on the real world.
I feel that a big part of my preparation for the real world was working for the school at Frequency TV, The Cage, and being a Teacher's Assistant. I have worked as a teacher’s assistant for Michael Neiderman’s and Brady Hyde’s Directing class for a little over a year, as well in the "cage" on the 14th floor of the department for a year. I also have worked at Frequency TV, mainly as the station’s motion designer, but was graciously given the opportunity to produce three of my own shows. One of the shows I was able to produce under Frequency was called, “Lorenzo”, which was an animated series about the delusional detective Lorenzo, and his side kick Tanya. In the first couple episodes, they investigate the celebrity murders of Conan O’Brien, and Tony the Tiger. The series was inspired by my love for the dark satirical South Park and my hate for the over the top, Horatio Cain of CSI: Miami. I was lucky enough for the pilot episode entitled “Who Killed Coco!?” to be nominated and win a Student Production Award from the Television Academy. I couldn’t believe it was nominated let alone to win was an honor. (We couldn't be more proud of Kyle as well for this, we COULD believe that it would be nominated AND win! Way to go Kyle!!)
How does it feel to have your "dream job" that you do now?
It is very satisfying to have landed a dream position with NFL Films. It is everything and more than I could have ever imagined. I feel extremely lucky. I will take what I have learned from Columbia and the TV department and use them to continue to push myself creatively with any project that may come my way.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Once I had my sights on a media related job, I wanted to do work for NFL Films, South Park or make music videos. Which in a strange way, not too far off from my childhood ambitions. When not working at NFL Films, I direct and edit music videos as well as am in the development of a South Park esq cartoon named Lorenzo. A couple episodes of Lorenzo have aired on Frequency TV. I have worked on over 6 music videos to date, they can be found on my website.
What is life like for you now in the fast lane and now that you’re in the “real world?”
Life's not much different, still strict deadlines and constantly pushing the creative boundary whenever possible.
What were your favorite classes here at Columbia?
Columbia has some amazing professors and great classes to take but the ones that come to mind and made the most impact on me were Todd Murphy's- Motion Graphics 2, Wayne Kumingos -Documentary Class, The Learning Community with Sara Livingston, Kristin "KP" Pichaske, and Luke Palermo, and last but not least, Psychology of the Creative Mind
What is some advice you can offer to current and future students at Columbia College?
The biggest advice I could offer to future and current students would be to make your self uncomfortable. Try to do things you don't know how to do. If you’re not a great shooter? Learn how to shoot. If you’re not a good editor? Sit down with Final Cut Pro. Not a great writer? Try to write a script and make it into a REAL project. Most importantly, remember this is a time to take chances, experiment and just go for it don't hold back. With every project try and make it the best it possibly can be. Get involved. Get involved with your classes, your department and get to know your classmates. Don't just dream about that amazing idea in your head, go do it. And last but not least, "fake it till you make it."
And there you have it, an exclusive interview with Kyle Cogan, you heard it here first. For more information abou Kyle and to see his projects check out his website www.KyleCogan.com Everyone at Columbia College Chicago could not be more proud of Kyle and all of his accomplishments. Not only will he always be known around the halls of Columbia, but he will be known by all very soon. Kyle is surely going places and not stopping until he makes it to the top. Congratulations Kyle Cogan, we're happy to say we knew you when...