Alumni Spotlight

Kevin Sun ’12 
Freelance Cinematographer/Editor
​Panavision
Hollywood, California

Major: Philosophy (Applied)

Minor: Film

Activities: Quaker Campus (photographer), QCTV (cinematographer), Campus Movie Fest, Video Production Studios (VPS)

What first attracted you to Whittier College? I was attracted to the College because it is a liberal arts school. I knew I would be able to dabble in subjects that interested me and capture these areas of interest on film. However, above all, it was the people. The friends and people I met made me stop second-guessing my choice to come to Whittier.

Why did you choose to study film studies? My decision to study film came prior to me arriving at Whittier. Ultimately, I knew I needed to study film because it provides the basic backdrop for making films. Film studies isn’t a hands-on film production experience, but studying great films from the past and understanding how to derive meaning behind each shot, cut, color, frame, movement, and direction are key elements in interpreting a film’s visual message.

Describe your experience at Whittier College. Who was your favorite professor?  Philosophy professor Paul Kjellberg impacted my life in ways that can’t be described with words. He taught me how to look at a perfected idea and rethink its realms and elements, to rip apart a philosophical idea from a book and understand it as my own philosophical idea. He emphasized to his students how to learn to ‘self-correct’ and become ‘self-aware,’ which, perhaps, were the single most vital tools I took away when I stepped into the real world.

In the film department, I could not thank Professors Rich Cheatham and Jennifer Holmes more for fueling my passion and interest in my would-be career. In his video production classes, Professor Cheatham practically gave me free reign in my exploration of filmmaking angles, approaches, and involvement in film crews. Professor Holmes helped me tackle a story’s perspective by completely ripping a movie apart and dissecting why each frame was used before it was cut to the next shot. She inspired me to look at my movies through a very micro lens.

What are you currently up to? How has your Whittier education benefited you professionally? Since graduation, I’ve become a freelance cinematographer and editor, working on numerous odd productions, both paid and pro bono. These types of productions help me narrow down my plan of attack to achieve my goals in the film industry. However, I realize that freelance work isn’t the best platform to learn about all the new things Hollywood has to offer, so I am also currently working at Panavision, an old veteran Hollywood camera house company that is always at the forefront of technical achievements.

What advice would you give to future film studies alumni when they graduate? Dabble dabble dabble. Be willing to wear multiple hats on a production to get a taste of what that role entails. For me, it was cinematography and editing. Once you find your passion, go for it and don’t look back. It’s hard to create art from lack of passion.

Finish this sentence: I am a ‘Poet for Life’ because… of the friends that made me believe that being a Poet for life is worth something.

-Are you a graduate of the Film Studies program and want to share your story? Contact the Office of Communications at therock@whittier.edu.