When the virtual 2021 commencement was announced, Finley King had no idea he would be one of the students chosen to represent the graduating class come event day. King, a filmmaking major, was recently featured in the short film, “A Road to Graduation” which aired during Rutgers University’s virtual commencement this year. The film segment was a special element of the virtual event that showcased the unique experiences of the graduating class through the stories of five different students.

“The video provides a glimpse of the university through several student perspectives and their experience as they traveled the “Road to Graduation,”

Debra Andriano, Media Production Manager at Rutgers iTV

Rutgers iTV is the production team that helped produce both the short film segment and the commencement event.

In the commencement video, King spoke on his transition coming from a smaller high school to such a large university like Rutgers and how he was able to find his place within the community.

“Filming the convocation video was really fun and educational,” said King. “That was really the first time I was an actor or talent on set and seeing how the director would direct the camera person and try and figure out what the scene would be was very different. It was interesting to see from the outside in.”

King became involved in “A Road to Graduation” through his involvement in Scarlet Media, an undergraduate program offered as part of the Division of Continuing Studies (DoCS) Media Services. Through Scarlet Media, students gain real world media production experience and develop practical skills that prepare them for careers after graduation. As part of the Scarlet Media team, students also get exposure the professional production teams working on dynamic, large-scale production at Rutgers.

During the filming, King was invited to stay afterwards to observe the behind-the-scenes production process live on location.

“The director was an Oscar-nominee, so it was really cool getting to work with him and see how his brain works,” said King.

Scarlet Media team members come from an array of majors, most notably from the journalism programs at the School of Communication & Information and the filmmaking program at Mason Gross School of the Arts. King joined the Scarlet Media team halfway through his sophomore year.

“I’ve been working with Finely for three years so I was really proud to see him representing the class of 2021 in the Commencement program,” said Laura Transue, who runs the Scarlet Media program. “When I heard the Commencement team was searching for student stories, I suggested Finley. I think he is someone who turned the challenges of the pandemic into opportunities to learn and became stronger through the experience.”

Despite campus being closed during the past several semesters, the Scarlet Media team was able to adapt to remote work along with the full-time DoCS Media staff and experience firsthand how the media industry adjusted throughout 2020. The team continues to handle a variety of projects such as recording events, creating web/social media content, producing course materials for faculty teaching online, and much more.

“Scarlet Media taught me how to operate in an environment of working for clients and delivering certain products. The cumulative experience of working on different projects, whether it was editing a teacher’s lecture or recording a live event...it was very educational outside of my film major.”

Finley King

After graduation, King will go on to participate in the student symposium at the Telluride Film Festival which he was accepted into last year but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is also in the process of creating his own documentary about his dad’s experience living as a 9/11 survivor.

“I think one thing that I learned at Scarlet Media which was really important that taught me about film was the nuances of everything,” King continues. “It’s not just about figuring out the story and what you want it to look like, it’s also about filling out the paperwork, figuring out how much everything is going to cost, going through all the equipment, and making sure you’re prepared.”

To learn more about Scarlet Media, please visit https://tvstudio.rutgers.edu/

Scarlet Media Students
Finley King (Top Middle) alongside fellow Scarlet Media students during a behind-the-scenes workshop.