Name: Peter Lansworth
Graduation Year: 2013
Major: Film and Television Production
Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland
Fun Fact: Bicycle tourist with over 4,000 miles of touring and more on the way!
What were the roles/positions you held at Trojan Vision?
My first semester at USC I dived in head first as an on-camera host of Platforum and The Cutting Edge, as well as a producer on a second night of Platforum. I couldn’t get enough! The next year I took on the EP role at Platforum, and the next year did a stint as General Manager. My favorite job was running Platforum with my co-EP Biz Thorsen. Producing a live television show every day for a year prepared me for the hustle and bustle of the industry, and showed me that a fast-paced creative life would be the right fit for me. I have a lot of fond memories at Trojan Vision, but my favorite is the summer I spent converting the station to HD with Gary and Carl, our technical advisors. If you can believe it, when I started in 2009, everything was standard definition. In 2010, we ripped almost everything out of the control room, the ceiling, and the operations room to pave way for all the new gear. A lot of sweat, but the new system was revolutionary.
How was the transition out of USC and into the workplace?
There’s no way around it – unless you have a cushy situation set up for you, that first year or two is tough after getting hyped up by USC for four years. No one cares what film school you went to – all they want to know is if you can execute.
If you’re going to be a filmmaker, you have to fully commit. I made one rule for myself after graduating: Filmmaking was going to pay the bills, no matter what. Even if the films were for the smallest, most unheard-of clients, this was how I was going to pay the rent. I leaned hard on my fellow recent alumni to make connections with producers and filmmakers who provided me with incredible opportunities to be creative. I can trace everyone I work with now to someone I met at USC.
Give us a brief summary of your journey and experience in the industry!
I spent my first five years out of school working as a filmmaker-for-hire, reaching out to production companies and producers whose work I admired that I wanted to work with. In that time I created pieces for Forbes, Make-A-Wish, Luxottica, Complex, and the Drone Racing League, to name a few. I think the most challenging part of that period was slowly getting out of the mindset of doing everything myself. Film school gives you so many skills that it can sometimes be stressful to let go and trust other creatives with your hard work. You’re also running a business, which film school doesn’t necessarily prepare you for. It’s a lot to juggle. I eventually formed a production company of my own, which has been a wild but fulfilling experience. Our recent campaigns have included campaigns for Yahoo, Sephora, and Paco Rabanne. Every job is a new adventure, and there’s always something to learn.
What is the proudest moment you’ve experienced in the course of your career?
One of my early videos that hit big numbers was a Make-a-Wish video with NFL quarterback Cam Newton. There was close to no budget and I had to do everything myself, but the experience was one of the most wholesome I’ve had so far. To realize my skills could be used to memorialize such a treasured moment was an eye-opening experience. It gave me the motivation to keep pressing the gas in the early days.
How has Trojan Vision helped/influenced your career?
The station gave me so many opportunities to try on different hats and see which one fit best. I was an on-camera talent, producer, live-show director, EP, and General Manager – once I’d done them all I knew what I liked to do and what I didn’t. In the real world you can’t always afford to go down paths that don’t have a clear end. Experiment!
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I’m currently in the midst of pursuing longer form documentary content, which is so important for the era we find ourselves in. After a decade of making films for clients, it can be challenging to find my own voice when there’s no one giving notes or worried about the bottom line. It’s a different world creatively, but one I’d like to shift focus to in the near future.
Any words of advice for students?
This is your chance to make mistakes. Everyone says that failure is the best teacher, but after college that can have a real impact on your life if you’re not careful. Right now you’re free to totally fall on your face without it really mattering. Go for it!
** Please reach out to our Industry Relations Manager, Phoebe Lai (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get in touch with our Notable Alumni or be featured in our next newsletter!