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Media X students rub shoulders with film industry pros at SXSW

South by Southwest (SXSW) is a celebration of film, television and music all wrapped into one festival in Austin, Texas. Every March, filmmakers gather to screen their new films, and many aspiring filmmakers go to network and appreciate each other’s work. This year, Pacific sent 13 Media X students to experience the festival.  

“Meeting industry professionals, meeting stars, meeting directors, getting advice from them on how to actually navigate the industry is immensely valuable. They eat, sleep and breathe film on a national and international scale,” said Media X Director Joshua Salyers. 

Pacific partnered with the American Pavilion, the United States’ official representative during festivals and exhibits around the world, which had previously worked with Media X to send students to the Cannes Film Festival. In addition to movie screenings, American Pavilion provides networking and hands-on opportunities for students.  

Funding for the trip was made possible by the donor-backed College of the Pacific Media X gift account and more specifically, the Barbara and Bob Bejan Experiential Learning Endowment. Pacific covered the food, transportation, lodging and festival passes for all 13 students.  

“We had the premium badge which allowed us to attend all the events that were not only film but also interactive media and music,” said Media X major Achish Enriquez ’26. 

Movie premieres 

The Media X students were among some of the first people in the world to view new movies including Daisy Ridley’s new movie “Magpie,” the comedy “Y2K,” the Jesse Eisenberg-directed film “A Real Pain” and the Jordan Peele-produced film “Monkey Man,” just to name a few. All the directors and stars were at SXSW to talk about the films, answer questions and give insight to young filmmakers into how they were all made.  

“My favorite was a film called ‘Ghost Light,’ which is a take on Romeo and Juliet in the modern day,” said Media X major Andrew Garcia ’25. 

Aside from getting firsthand industry knowledge from creators, students met many of their favorite celebrities in the theater.  

“Jordan Peele was sitting, like, two rows away from us. So, I get to say that I watched a movie with Jordan Peele,” Enriquez said about the “Monkey Man” premiere.  

Some of the Media X students talked with director Jesse Eisenberg after his film premiere and took a group photo. However, photos and moments with celebrities were not the only valuable experiences students got out of the festival. 

Networking opportunities

The American Pavilion also provided career mentor sessions for students and interns. These sessions covered areas of the film industry ranging from directing and producing to online content creation with professionals.  

“I went to this one session that was an Asian creator meetup. I was able to network with a lot of those people and know the type of work that they do,” Enriquez said. “And I was also able to show them my current portfolio, and they were able to give me feedback.” 

Valuable learning experiences

Salyers said his students demonstrated independence at SXSW, which made him feel confident they will succeed in the Media X program.  

“One of the values of coming to University of the Pacific is the ability to learn while being hands-on,” he said. “Experiential learning is the application of what you learn in the classroom.  [SXSW] is a good example of that, both for soft skills but also getting a better understanding of the industry from people who are actively in the industry.” 

Enriquez and Garcia want to pursue careers in directing media when they graduate. Enriquez wants to work in film. Garcia is interested in sports marketing and broadcasting.  

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