’97 alumna shares entertainment industry experience
THE SANTA CLARA
April 7, 2016
With the release of Academy Award-winning film, “Spotlight,” the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse controversy has propelled the issue into the national spotlight once again. On Monday evening, the Santa Clara community took part in this discussion.
A sold out crowd filled the Music Recital Hall on Monday for a screening of “Spotlight.” The screening was followed by a question and answer session with the film’s producer, alumna Blye Faust ‘97.
“She’s dedicated to making a difference in the world, she’s a leader in change and she believes that social justice and Hollywood… actually can go hand in hand,” said Michael Whalen, a professor in the department of communication.
The film, which ran just over two hours, tells the true story of a group of investigative journalists working for the Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team in 2001 as they uncover sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests in the Boston Archdiocese.
“Spotlight” garnered near-universal acclaim from critics and collected six Academy Award nominations in 2015, winning prizes for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.
Opening up the question and answer session, Faust said that making the film was a long and arduous process.
She and her partner secured the rights to the story seven years ago. From that point, the next step was funding the film, which Faust said was one of the most difficult parts of the process.
Together, production companies Anonymous Content, First Look Media, Participant Media and Rocklin/Faust pulled together the $20 million budget.
“It was a long road. It’s a lot of moving pieces,” Faust said about the fundraising process.
Multiple audience members asked Faust about the response to the film, both in areas with large Catholic populations and by the Catholic Church itself.
Faust said that from her perspective, the Church has embraced the film and did not offer any pushback during the filmmaking process. Earlier this year, prior to the Academy Awards, the Vatican Council on Abuse screened the film; something Faust described as a “huge moment” for her and her team.
“The National Conference of Bishops sent out a press release after it came out saying this is an important film,” Faust said. “They sent it out to all the-—you know a message—to all the archdioceses across the U.S. and said, you need to see this movie and show it to parishioners.”
The room erupted in applause.
The film has impacted the world of journalism too. Following the release of the film, The Los Angeles Times created their own investigative unit which Faust described as a “Spotlight-like team.”
However, given the diminishing budgets and staff sizes at traditional newspapers, many organizations do not have the ability to form investigative units.
Faust said she has a lot of hope in independent organizations like the Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica to continue the necessary work of investigative reporters.
Though not Catholic herself, Faust said the Jesuit ideals of the Santa Clara education naturally influenced the type of work that she gravitates towards. She told audience members that she and her partner are currently developing other television and movie projects based on and inspired by true stories.
Her advice to students: “Follow your passions, stick with it and just put your head down and get the work done.”
Robert Boscacci ‘14, who graduated with a degree in communication and now works in film production in the Bay Area, asked Faust about how she spent her time between graduating from Santa Clara and becoming an Oscar winner.
“We’re all Broncos and you’re a Bronco… but you have an Oscar,” Boscacci said prefacing his question and garnering laughs from the audience. “(Film) is my religion,” Boscacci said after the event. “It was gripping,” he added.
Faust answered that getting her foot in the door of the industry as an entertainment lawyer was helpful, but getting to where she is now took a lot of time and learning from mistakes.
Holding up her Oscar as camera phones in the audiences snapped away, Faust let out a triumphant “Go Broncos!” to conclude the event.”
Contact Jenni Sigl at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.