Making it in Hollywood: The real ‘American Horror Story’

By Olivia Deloian, Staff Reporter

Sarah Paulson walks through a dark corridor in a psychiatric hospital, searching for answers as she portrays journalist Lana Winters looking for the infamous killer Bloody Face. She turns her flashlight toward the wall as she hides in a barely-lit cell when something grabs her. The screen fades to black.

Michael Goi, 1980 film alumnus and Emmy-nominated “American Horror Story” cinematographer, was one of the filmmakers who created this scene in “AHS: Asylum.”

Goi was a featured speaker in the Cinema and Television Arts Speaker Series Oct. 22 at Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash Ave., during which students were invited to hear from successful alumni and get advice on how to achieve success in film and television.

Goi spoke to aspiring filmmakers on how to work past the horrors of trying to make it in the film industry, including advice on making connections and not being afraid to fail.

Goi said before the event someone had asked for the most important advice he took away from Columbia, to which he replied, “The most important thing was not being afraid to f–k up.”

Goi said during his time at Columbia, he made more than 125 films in four years, messing up some aspect of every film he created. Despite these little failures, he said they allowed him to learn from his mistakes which then helped him get over the fear of failure.

“That lack of fear of failure is so important as you go through this business,” Goi said. “People who want to do what they know everyone will like are the people who are not going to ever advance on [becoming] journeymen, cinematographers or [even] directors.”

Associate Chair in the Cinema and Television Arts Department Kevin Cooper spoke to The Chronicle before the event and said Goi’s many successes will give students important insight on how to make it in the industry with support of the CTVA Speaker Series.

“[Goi] is a successful cinematographer and director. My hope is that he can speak to the transition from being a student to being a professional, and specifically, colorize what it’s like to get in the mainstream industry,” Cooper said.

Goi said working within the  professional environment is crucial when it comes to the second half of students’ education.

“Everything technical in the film industry, frankly, you can learn in a book, but the other half of it is learning the politics of how the industry works,” Goi said. “To do that, you have to associate yourself with people who are in this industry.”

Sophomore cinema art and science major Julia Kempka Benson attended the event to gain insight on secrets of the film industry while also wanting to see who was behind the series of “AHS.”

Benson said the advice that stuck with her the most is the need to  go into the field and just film.

“So much [of] what he said [resonated with me], like to just do it, because my parents have told me that since I was younger,” Benson said. “You’re not going to get anything done if you’re not going to actually do the work. I’ve always thought about [how] I would love to do this, but, obviously, if I don’t do the first step, it’s not going to get done.”

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