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Game of Thrones Visual Effects Coordinator, Adam Chazen, is Blazing a Trail Through The Film and Television Industries

It’s reassuring to hear, as a student who is on the verge of entering the “real world,” that someone in your chosen field has “made it.” Being a Radio-Television-Film major, I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment for those who have graduated and are beginning to, or have managed to find, comfort and safety within a new niche. I am sure it’s like that within all fields of study. Knowing that life outside of college is manageable and dare I say it, even fun sometimes amidst the adult-ness, is pretty cool.

Rowan alumnus, Adam Chazen, who graduated in 2008 as an RTF major, is one such student whom I have never had the pleasure of meeting in person, but that I’ve heard stories about throughout the halls of Bozorth (the Communications Building where all of the RTF classes are held, for those who never venture to that side of campus!). Adam is a Visual Effects Coordinator on Game of Thrones, and has won not one, but TWO Emmy awards! What a better way to celebrate Game of Thrones fourth season, premiering April 6th, than by talking to someone from Rowan who has been working with it for almost three years!

Read on as Adam, who was kind enough to answer a plethora of my questions via email, discusses his role in the production process, gives advice on career preparation, resumes and networking, and let’s us in on a thing or two about Game of Thrones.

            Adam, who is on “the production management side of visual effects,” describes his duties as Visual Effects Coordinator as much more than what the title says. “I help manage all of the Visual Effects work that is done on the show.  This ranges from CG creatures, set extensions, matte paintings, and removing production equipment from shots.  When in production I help manage the concept and pre-visualization artists.  Pre-vis basically entails making animatics of the scenes we are going to shoot to have a better understanding of what the shots will look like and how to block them out,” like live action story boards, he says. “I coordinate set needs, whether it be green screens, making sure sets are covered with our supervisor and data wranglers, etc.  In post-production I help manage the making of the shots with our vendors who do the actual magic.  I set up reviews with the supervisor, EPs, and HBO to view the shots.  Everyday is always different and challenging, but always a great payoff at the end.”

            That’s a lot to handle, but Adam was trained by the best. After learning about television production in high school, he graduated to studying film and television in his courses at Rowan, where he took advantage of the opportunities given to him on campus outside of the classroom as well. The Rowan Television Network, Cinema Workshop, and Student University Programmers gave him the foundation he needed in order to be a good producer, and in turn, helped him with his jobs post-graduation.

When asked about the most important aspect of a resume, he again mentioned SUP. “I was given a budget of $150,000 to bring in entertainment for the college.  This impressed a lot of employers because it showed I was responsible, could handle budgets, and be organized.” This “real world experience,” he says, is key. “What you have learned in the classroom is great, but if you can show that you have applied it in the real world already, you are ahead of the game.”

I also asked him about networking, an important aspect of any career, but especially in the film and television industries. “Networking is everything when it comes to the entertainment business,” Chazen writes. “Productions like to work with same teams as they go show to show to help keep some consistency.  Also, you are working with these people 10-14 hours days so you have to enjoy who you work with.  I’ve always been a strong advocate of ‘someone you can drink with you can work with.’”

And who exactly does he drink with? “Every time I come back to LA, there is always more and more Rowan alumni who move out here to pursue their dreams. It’s pretty incredible to see them all come out here to do it.  It’s also great to see everyone stick together and help each other out.  So far in my career the only people I have helped get jobs are always Rowan alumni because I have no doubt of the great work I will get from them.”

Speaking of Los Angeles, Chazen spends only half of the year there – where he resides in West Hollywood, taking care of post-production for GoT. He made the switch from East to West Coast shortly after graduation, taking up residence in Sherman Oaks, which he says is a, “relatively inexpensive, nice area, and has easy access to get to other parts of Los Angeles.” The city’s aura is very inviting to Chazen, who told me that you’ll always find a way to occupy your time, “whether it is new hip restaurants, movie screenings, concerts, or my personal favorite, comedy shows.” Currently, he lives near the Comedy Store – a match made in heaven for a comedy fan like Chazen. Another example of L.A. living? Prince did a secret show for 1,000 fans that Adam recently attended. At four hours long, he described the event as “surreal.” 

The other six months out of the year he spends in Belfast, Northern Ireland, working on Game of Thrones. He admits to battling homesickness at times, “but the great thing about being on this show for so long, is that the people over in Belfast have become another family to me.” Ten to fourteen hours each day are spent on GoT. “The long hours took a while to get adjusted to…but it’s rewarding at the end because I’m working on something that people love. I get such a high when people tell me how much they love the show. It makes every minute spent working on it well spent.”

As for the new season of Game of Thrones, Chazen is less telling. “I can reveal that the season starts on April 6th on HBO.  There will be dragons and, as always, no one is safe!”

You heard it here, folks, be there or be…burned. By a dragon. And that kick ass blonde dragon lady. And remember, from someone who has been where we all are now:

“It’s a cliché, but you have to follow your dreams.  If you’re a hard worker, have passion, and are overall a good person (which I think it most important) good things will happen.  Life is too short to have regrets in what you end up doing, you have to make yourself happy.”

Thanks, Adam! We all can’t wait to see what you do next, which, as of right now, is finishing season four and then beginning season five of Game of Thrones!

 

Wait, Before You Go! Adam’s Top Three…

 

Television Shows:

Freaks and Geeks, Breaking Bad, Curb Your Enthusiasm

 

Songs:

Purple Rain – Prince, Everlong – Foo Fighters, Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan

 

Movies:

Shawshank Redemption, Boogie Nights, Goodfellas

 

Game of Thrones visual effects:

Dragons, Battle of Blackwater Bay, Ice Wall Climb

 

Foods:

Chinese, Pizza, Breakfast Food!

 

Books:

Andy Kaufman Revealed – Bob Zmuda, City of Thieves – David Benioff, You’re Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations – Michael Ian Black

Erin studies television and film production, anthropology, and writing at Rowan University. Her spirit animal is a horse and she loves floral prints.
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