Media X students rub shoulders with film industry pros

Students from University of the Pacific saw movie premieres, spoke with directors and networked with film industry professionals as part of a university-sponsored trip to South by Southwest, an annual film, television and music festival in Austin, Texas.

Pacific sent 13 students from its Media X program, which combines arts and technology in traditional and digital media.

“Meeting industry professionals, stars and directors and getting advice from them on how to navigate the industry is immensely valuable,” said Media X Director Joshua Salyers. 

“They eat, sleep and breathe film on a national and international scale.”

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.

Funding for the trip was made possible by the Barbara and Bob Bejan Experiential Learning Endowment fund, enabling Pacific to cover the food, transportation, lodging and 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 the first people in the world to view new movies including Daisy Ridley’s “Magpie,” the comedy “Y2K,” the Jesse Eisenberg-directed film “A Real Pain” and the Jordan Peele-produced film “Monkey Man.” The film directors and stars were at the festival to answer questions and provide valuable insights into the filmmaking process. 

“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.

In addition to gaining firsthand industry knowledge from creators, students met many of their favorite celebrities in the theater.

“Jordan Peele was sitting 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.

Other Media X students had the opportunity to talk with director Jesse Eisenberg after his film premiere.

Networking opportunities

Students also attended career mentor sessions, which covered various parts of the film industry ranging from directing and producing to online content creation.

“I went to 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. “I was also able to show them my current portfolio, and they gave me feedback.”

Valuable learning experiences

Salyers said his students demonstrated independence at South by Southwest, which made him confident of their success 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. South by Southwest 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.”