Alumni spotlight John Amato: OHIO-in-LA students in the professional world

Published: February 15, 2023 Author: Stuart Landry

Ohio University offers a world-class opportunity for a select few students to take classes in the City of Angels, Los Angeles, while being mentored by industry professionals and learning the ins and outs of the industry. The OHIO-in-LA program, facilitated by the School of Media Arts and Studies (MDIA), offers students the chance to hear from guest speakers, scout internships, make connections, and produce two feature short films during their semester in the city. John Amato, a 2021 OHIO graduate and alumnus of this program, answered questions about his experience and how he is now thriving in the professional world.

The following is a Q and A with Amato:

SL: What made you pick Ohio University, and especially media arts production?
JA: I chose OHIO mainly for the OHIO-in-LA program. I heard a lot about it and the people who had succeeded in it, so OHIO quickly went to the top of my list. I also met with some professors before committing and heard about the clubs on campus in which students were making short films, and it all sounded really interesting to me. Coming out of high school, I was eager to create, learn more about the stuff I loved, and have some guidance on the world of media outside of Ohio, all of which OHIO and the MDIA School promised.

SL: What student organizations were you part of here at OHIO?
JA: I was heavily involved in Rough Cut Collective while at OHIO, starting my freshman year. I later became vice president my junior year.

SL: What experiences did you have in the MDIA program at OHIO that helped you prepare for the professional world?
JA: The most informative experiences I had in the media program were not necessarily in my classes but were in Rough Cut. We made so many short films, and I got to do a lot of different jobs -- from behind-the-scenes videographer, to directing my own films. I learned so much about making movies, and I met a lot of my best friends doing it. It allowed me to figure out what I wanted to do in life, but also led me to explore my own moviemaking and writing style in a more personal way than any of my classes did. Roger Cooper's Business of Media class also prepared me for the professional world. Professor Cooper really knows what he's talking about, knows actual working professionals in the business, and is able to relay the information in an engaging way.

SL: How did you get involved in the OHIO-in-LA program and what opportunities came from it?
JA: I got involved in the OHIO-in-LA program from attending Professor Cooper's info sessions. Then I applied and was accepted. I did both the virtual program due to COVID, and then the actual in-LA program. The virtual internships I was able to do were a great steppingstone to learning about the business as a business and helped me get my feet wet in a professional Hollywood setting. The internship I had during my in-person program led to my current job as well. Being in LA allowed me a lot of opportunities to fall in love with the city, while still having a safety net to fall back on. Once the program ended, I stayed out here, and without the support group of so many friends all in the same boat as me, I would have had a much rougher time. I also got to meet and hear from so many alumni who are succeeding in the industry, and it helped me to see that this life is possible, and that I could actually do it.

SL: What projects are you currently working on right now?
JA: I am currently the writers' assistant on S.W.A.T, a TV show that airs on CBS. I was given the amazing opportunity to write an episode this season that aired on Feb. 3. Other than that, I am working on a lot of my own pilot scripts, trying to better my writing and learn more.

SL: What advice do you have for current media students who want to go into the OHIO-in-LA program?
JA: If any students are thinking about doing the LA program, I'd advise them to take the leap and do it. It might seem scary, but it is definitely worth it. If you really want to be in this industry, then the people you meet here and the experiences you have will teach you a lot. You'll learn so much about yourself, and even if you decide you don't like LA or this business, you'll still have tried, and be able to take comfort in that