Alumni Spotlight: Chris Cheshire

Name: Chris Cheshire
Graduation Year: 2020
Major: Journalism
Minor: Cinematic Arts
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Fun Fact: I have the all-time record for highest tower built out of
a single piece of 8.5×11 paper in my high school physics class. 180cm.
LinkedIn
Website

What roles/positions did you hold at Trojan Vision? Any favorite memories?
I directed The Water Cooler for 3 years and was an executive producer of The Breakdown during my junior year. The highlight closest to my heart is probably every Friday the crew of the Cooler spent at Study Hall after the show, and there are too many memories from the station to name, but I have a few. We had two of our hosts compete in a Flonkerton race down the studio hallway with apple boxes taped to their feet (there were some questionable no-calls on that one). Finalizing our script during late night punch up meetings the night before The Breakdown could get hysterical, in both senses of the word. And that one time Seth played a Nutella-addicted Keebler Elf comes to mind.

How was the process of transitioning out of USC and into the workplace?
I graduated during peak-COVID, which was less than ideal from a motivational perspective. A lot of the challenge for me was getting in the right headspace to start thinking about the next stage of my life, and not just thinking ‘What the hell happened now?’ when I woke up and checked the news. The other tough part was that I didn’t—and still don’t—have an endgame for how I want to spend the rest of my life. I cast a wide net when sending out job applications, and it seemed like most of them were just getting dropped into the ether. I was lucky enough to have a place to stay and do some freelance work from home to break it up, but that grind can take a toll. The other weird part about the job is that the first couple months were remote, and after that I only saw two or three other people a day when I was in the office. It’s a strange feeling to make a major life change and still be working out of the same bedroom.

Can you give us a brief summary of your experience in the industry before graduating? What led you to where you are today?
I’ve had a couple of internships—I worked at channel 4 in Los Angeles and The Tonight Show in New York, both as a production intern—but what I think has helped me the most (so far!) was the work I did in student media at USC. Along with Trojan Vision, I worked on the newscast at Annenberg for all four years, as a director, executive producer, and anchor. During my senior year, my friend Dan Toomey and I launched our own news-satire show called Night Class, for which we handled writing, production, distribution and promotion. That whole experience taught me a lot about the sheer volume of work that goes into running a production like that. That experience informs what I do at work and helps me understand aspects of that work that aren’t necessarily my job, but of which knowing the basics could help me avoid potential pitfalls. It also helped to have a broad portfolio I could point to when interviewing for potential jobs.

Can you tell us about your job at FOX Sports, and any other work you’re excited about?
I’m a director on the digital side of things at FOX Sports, which means on a weekly basis I direct a lot of podcasts. (We just launched our video podcast network, and yes, podcasts have video now). In this season of the year, my focus is a college basketball show called Titus and Tate (which we’re doing live from the floor of Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament!) as well as Shannon Sharpe’s podcast Club Shay Shay and a couple of other shows we rotate though on a week-to-week basis. During the fall, I was on the road every week for the college football season, doing a live digital show (The Ultimate College Football Road Trip) from a local college bar every Friday before the game. It was exhausting but also an absolute blast. We’re a scrappy team, so the rest of technical operations and I also do some engineering and maintain our digital studio, which has some sweet LED walls that we installed in January of last year. I also just painted a basketball court on my set for March Madness, so I get some arts and crafts in too. Longer term, we’re also in prep mode for the World Cup in Qatar and baseball season, if that ever starts!

How has Trojan Vision helped/influenced your career?
What Trojan Vision gave me, most importantly, was a playground to explore what I wanted to do in the world of production. I learned I loved directing live shows and had the opportunity to hone that skill. Trojan Vision gave me relationships in this world that hold strong now—I still work with people I met at Trojan Vision at my job every day. I learned how to write comedy, organize productions, and work within a creative community—a community full of people with different ideas who had to learn to compromise, build on each other’s strengths, and ultimately unite around a common goal every week: put on a good show.

Any advice to current students who aspire to find themselves where you are, especially so early out of college?
Make as much stuff as you can. It doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s films, YouTube shows, TikToks, an AR experience or a flipbook—the process is what’s important. The best way I’ve found to learn (and hone) a skill, whether it be in production or anything else in life, is to get your hands dirty trying to make it work. Follow through that process to the end—it doesn’t matter if five or five million people are watching it, it’s important to learn when you can say “Yep. That’s done.” Whatever you make, take some time to reflect on what you learned, what you did well, and what you could do better. Any project where you can’t point to something you’d improve or something you’ve learned is a project wasted.

Please reach out to our Industry Relations Manager, Phoebe Lai (pelai@usc.edu) to get in touch with our Notable Alumni or be featured in our next newsletter!