Mattituck alums share success stories with current students

01/20/2012 9:00 AM |

The Mattituck High School students who create the school’s morning television program aren’t just taking part in an extracurricular activity, they’re developing a set of skills that are in high demand.

Last Friday seven successful Mattituck alumni who developed their videography chops in high school gave a rousing presentation to an assembly for eighth-, 11th- and 12th-graders. Carmine Arpaia, Jarret Palmer, Kelly Goller and Hilary Brown joined in from across the country via videoconference, their images projected onto a large screen in the high school auditorium.

Mr. Arpaia, a 2003 graduate, studied television and video production at Hofstra University, where he began interning for the New York Mets, producing live videos of games. From there, he was hired by the Major League Baseball network and produces segments for live broadcasts every night. He and his co-workers recently won an Emmy.

“You’re going to have to work. You might as well do something you enjoy,” he told the crowd. “If I wasn’t working in sports I would be pretty bored.”

Jarret Palmer, another ’03 grad who joined Mr. Arpaia on the school’s television show, broke into television production from an unlikely place: the New Suffolk beach. During high school, he worked as a lifeguard and often assisted an elderly woman from her car to the beach with her chairs and supplies. It turned out the woman’s son was a television writer who helped Mr. Palmer secure a job on “Law & Order.” He’s since worked for several TV shows in California and is now an associate producer for “1,000 Ways to Die.”

“You need to exploit every person you know,” Mr. Palmer said. “Everyone knows somebody. It’s that way in every industry.”

Kelly Goller, Class of ’05, studied film and television production at New York University, graduating in 2009 during the darkest days of the recession. At the time, no one she knew was finding work, so she and a friend decided to start their own production company, Kneeon TV, which specializes in stop-motion animation, graphics, commercials and music videos. She’s currently in Vancouver making a stop-motion film.

It was a nerve-wracking decision to go into business for herself, she said, but her company is moving ahead, producing work for clients from Facebook to Toshiba.

Alumni Dallas Dodge, Lee Carlson and Moggy Vinciguerra joined the crowd live on stage. Mr. Dodge is studying film at SUNY/Purchase, Mr. Carlson just finished the radio and television production program at Suffolk Community College and Ms. Vinciguerra is studying new media at SUNY/Purchase.

A 2009 Mattituck graduate, Mr. Dodge urged seniors to not let the college selection process frustrate them. He didn’t know he was accepted to SUNY/Purchase until June of his senior year. In the meantime, he said, he stayed busy learning everything he could about filmmaking.

Mr. Carlson originally thought TV production had a lot in common with film, but after his classes at Suffolk he realized they couldn’t be more different. He worked with the college’s first-ever remote production unit, a six-camera live crew that produced their shows inside a white van. Since then, he’s become addicted to live television. He now works for the New York Racing Association making live movies of horse races.

“Live television is the ultimate thrill,” he said. “The adrenaline rush is insane.”

Ms. Vinciguerra decided the best way to keep the audience’s attention as she spoke about her new media classes was to throw candy at them.

She told the assembled students that she was able to graduate from college early because she took AP classes in high school and because she knew a lot about computers.

“You don’t have to take gym in college!” she added.

She went on to intern at Columbia Records, where she said she made a fool of herself by gushing over recording artists and trying to meet English singer-songwriter Adele when she was in the building.

“My boss said, ‘This is their safe place. They’re at work. They don’t want to be bombarded by fans,’ ” Ms. Vinciguerra said.

byoung@timesreview.com