From Shakespeare to All My Children, via Grand Theft Auto V, Zach Bubolo definitely earned his acting stripes since graduating from BC. Now, he runs his own media production company — New York Picture Company — with two fellow BC alumni, producing commercials for big-name brands. Today, we’re chatting to him about breaking into TV, going commercial, and playing a baddie on GTA.
Zach will be joining us for Career Night for the Arts next Thursday, Nov. 7, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, along with several other BC alumni with successful careers in the arts. Check out our website at the link above, or browse through our latest posts to find out who will be imparting their sage advice to BC students. Want to meet an Author? Stage Manager? Interior Designer? Singer? Make sure you head down to the McMullen Museum for this evening of networking and conversation.
We’re really intrigued about you appearing in GTA V. What was that like?
As a lifelong gamer, it was a dream come true for me. I was thrilled to be able to play several different characters, but I had the most fun playing a hostage-taking mercenary. I was probably most excited to wear the ping-pong ball wet suit and helmet camera they use for motion, face, and voice capture. GTA V was shot in a huge warehouse; there were no sets or costumes, so I had to rely on my imagination and training. If you ever get a chance to play the game, you have to kill one of my characters to complete a mission.
Is acting for TV as fun as it looks? How did you break in to that industry?
After making a shot in the dark — a blind submission to Jill, the Casting Director at “Guiding Light” — I was called in for a meeting, and promptly told they wanted to use me for a small recurring role for a new mini-mart set on the show. I found out after working on the show for a few weeks that soap operas work at a break neck speed, which was so different from what I was used to after working exclusively in theater. While I didn’t have a meaty or particularly exciting role, I had a great time getting to know the main cast and crew, which were really like a little family, and I learned a lot about how your TV sausage is made.
Tell us a little more about NYPC — what inspired you to set up the company? What’s your vision for this project?
My involvement in New York Picture Company started when fellow BC alumni, Matt Cullinan ‘07 and Jim Fagan ‘07, asked me to be the third member of their new company. The three of us had just created and filmed a pilot called “Logan Davenport: Soap Opera Star,” and we wanted to continue working together and see if we could monetize doing something which we already enjoyed, which is why we began creating commercials for spec. We’ve had some success selling them and have worked with brands such as Frito Lays, Hormel Bacon, and Prevacid. Working on commercials has been a great way to find our voice, build experience, and develop a sustainable business model. Now we have our eye on creating comedic branded content on a larger scale (short films and web series), in addition to continuing our commercial and non branded work.
Keeping in touch with BC alumni was instrumental for you in setting up NYPC. Have the connections you made at college been important to you since graduating? How else did BC prepare you for a career in the arts?
The vast majority of the people we call when we have a project are people with whom we work, or went to college and graduate school. I suppose this is reductive, but I can’t stress enough how important personal connections have proven to be in finding work in the arts, and mine were made at BC. We have used BC grads as actors, costume designers, tech consultants, and various crew members. We also consult with another group of BC grads who are filmmakers out in Los Angeles. I hope we can continue to bring on more BC alums as writers, producers, directors of photography, and in a variety of other ways.
Connections I made at BC have been and continue to be incredibly important in my professional and personal life. Jim Fagan (co-founder of NYPC) and I have actually been close friends since Chaminade High School (Go Flyers). After BC we were roommates while I was going to graduate school at A.R.T./ Harvard and he was working as a director in Boston. Matt (the other co-founder) and I were co-best men at Jim’s wedding, and they will be groomsmen at my wedding (my fiancée, Sarah, and I went to grad school together, and I still feel lucky every time she agrees to be a lead on a shoot for us).
As for other ways BC prepared me, the acting classes and shows at BC were led by some pretty incredible faculty members and I still incorporate their training whenever I am working on a new project. I only regret that I didn’t spend enough time out of my comfort zone. I wish I had studied aboard and taken some marketing or finance classes. Luckily, I continue to learn from other alumni and find inspiration in them, not only because of their talent, but also because of their drive and discipline.