University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication alumnus, Will Cuddy ’14 (advertising), can be seen acting across from Academy Award winning actress, Reese Witherspoon, in the film adaptation of the New York Time’s best selling memoir, Wild.
While at UO, Cuddy was a member of the all-male premier a cappella group, On The Rocks. He was also involved with DuckTV and directed two award winning short films entered into Cinema Pacific’s 72-Hour Adrenaline Film Project.
Cuddy now takes a moment to reflect on his time in the SOJC.
What have you been doing and what’s next?
Since graduating in the spring of 2014, I’ve been working as a freelance videographer. I’ve kept myself busy shooting, editing, directing, and doing production assistant work on set for multiple companies as well as independent projects. In addition to my work behind the camera, I’ve had some very exciting time in front of it. Over Halloween weekend of 2013, I had the opportunity to act across from Academy Award winning actress Reese Witherspoon in the film adaptation of the best-selling memoir, Wild. I attended the Los Angeles premiere at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and got to walk the red carpet at the Portland premiere. The film hit theaters internationally on December 19th and has presented some massive opportunities moving forward.
I was able to spend a lot of time with the director, Jean-Marc Vallée, both on set and at the after parties in Los Angeles and Portland. His other work includes Dallas Buyers Club of which both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won Oscars for their performances. I am currently working on a very well researched pitch to be hired as his assistant on his upcoming film – a Janis Joplin biopic starring Amy Adams shooting mid-2015. Through the connections I made with him, his manager, who has also acted as an executive producer on his more recent films, and his previous assistant, I feel confident they will look at me seriously.
If I am taken on as Jean-Marc’s assistant, I hope to walk away from the experience ready to direct a longer short film of higher production quality than my past work. From my exposure in Wild, I soon have the opportunity to speak with potential investors for the short film as well as a feature film down the road. As my goal is to be a feature film director, I am doing everything I can now to prepare for the opportunities that may present themselves around the corner. It has been quite the ride.
Could you describe one person and/or experience in the SOJC that shifted the course of your career, and/or that illustrates one of the SOJC’s core attributes of ethics, action or innovation?
Some the last words the late, great Mark Lewis said to me were, “You’re a great director, man. Keep me in mind in the future.” (cue eye twinkle) It’s that kind of encouragement that has solidified what I want to do with my life. Not only to be a director, but also to live my life in a way that has as much of a positive impact on others as Mark’s life. I think I have a better chance of winning an Oscar than ever amounting to that man’s genuine presence and care for others. Thank you, Mark.
Is there an example of how an SOJC faculty member aided you with your career?
As I did not, strictly speaking, go into advertising, I did not reap the benefits of the countless connections that the SOJC faculty members possess. However, we’re all going into advertising in a sense. I’m advertising myself everyday in the way I hold myself in professional settings, by speaking with a vocabulary I would not have if not for the SOJC, and by making bold moves I would not have the confidence to make if it weren’t for SOJC faculty members’ encouragement. Never take for granted the positive impact your professors have on you, big and small.
What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d like to give to current SOJC students?
Never stop making s#%t!!! You’ll grow as creatives and you’ll learn more about yourself and how you tick. With more work comes better work, and with better work comes a job that doesn’t feel like work at all. That’s the goal, isn’t it?
A wise man once told me, “Professionals are much more willing to help a 22-year old than a 25-year old. By that time, you’re looked at as competition rather than a passionate kid chasing the dream with fervor.” Okay, I’m paraphrasing slightly, but you get the idea. Take advantage of being a talented and driven young man or woman coming right out of college.
And above all, as Morrisonian law states, “Don’t be an a**hole.” Nothing is more rad than the most talented person in the room being the nicest one with the biggest smile.
What impact do you think your SOJC education has had on your life?
The environment in which the SOJC surrounds its students is like nothing I have ever experienced. Everywhere you turn, students are working on something new and creative, faculty members are encouraging them to push beyond boundaries and limited thinking, and the resources are endless. You can gather a group of friends and make anything in a weekend that may snag you a dream job down the road. The energy reverberating around campus is something so precious and so hard to replicate outside of college, it kills me to have not taken advantage of it more than I did. Cherish it all my friends.