By Lydia Ahern
As part of our interview series with alumni who are enjoying successful careers in the arts, it is our pleasure to introduce Philip Gilpin, Jr., Boston College Class of 2003, who will be attending Career Night for the Arts tomorrow from 7-9pm in McMullen Museum. Career Night for the Arts is an excellent way for students interested in pursuing a career in the arts to speak with Boston College graduates who have already paved the way. Students from all majors are welcome!
Philip Gilpin Jr. began his career in entertainment as a Business Affairs Analyst at HBO until 2008, and has since ascended to the title of Executive Director of the renowned ITVFest. Philip was responsible for bringing the LA-born event to Dover, Vermont in September 2013, and its marked success has ensured its stay there through at least 2017. In his interview, he gives insight into the roots of his creativity, as well as the industries changing independent TV and the web scene. Philip describes his industry as, “the wild west:” here’s your chance to find out why.
As a Physics and Mathematics major at BC, did you see yourself ultimately working in entertainment? How has your major helped you in your field?
I had no idea that I would end up in entertainment. I have always enjoyed the arts and took a few courses at Robsham but it was not a long-term career thought at the time. Physics and mathematics are very creative fields, especially at the higher levels. They are both rooted in using logic to solve problems. That’s also the core of the entertainment industry – creating pieces of art through massive production processes that require a high level of problem solving skills.
How has the independent TV and web scene changed since you began working at HBO in 2003, and how might this affect students attempting to enter the field?
The independent TV and web scene has been forging its own path over the last decade. YouTube didn’t exist until 2005. The digital video revolution is only 8 years old. If one thing is clear to me after being involved with the digital industry at a high level, it is that we are all still making this up as we go along. That’s not a negative thing. That should be inspiring and encouraging to students because it means they are able to define the field as they see fit. There is a lot of space out there – a lot of unanswered questions about this industry- that current students should have a passion to solve. Those that find the best solutions will find themselves leading the industry.
What are the top three qualities, abilities, or skills might help a BC student succeed in the independent TV and web scene?
To succeed in the independent TV and web world you must have an unquenchable passion for storytelling, you must be willing to take risks that could mean personal financial ruin and you must love problem solving on the fly. This is an industry with no safety net. There is no “normal” professional progression (entry level, manager, director, executive, etc.). This is the Wild West. Gear up and be prepared when you step into town.