A Winning Strategy: Q+A with Kelly Writenour '18

Antonia Gentile
November 2, 2023
Pace University's Media, Communications, and Visual Arts alum Kelly Writenour posing with the NHL Stanley Cup

Kelly Writenour

Class of 2018

Digital Cinema and Filmmaking, BS

As a media management technical specialist at the Major League Baseball (MLB)/National Hockey League (NHL) Network, Kelly Writenour was part of a 2019 Emmy-winning broadcast team.

Please tell us more about your role and the experience of winning an Emmy.

My colleagues and I are responsible for ingesting, archiving, restoring, and delivering all content at the MLB Network/NHL Network for live-air and digital use. In my role as a specialist, I also lead new hire training, collaborate with major streaming partners, and work at large events such as the World Series, MLB All-Star Game, and the London Series. Since we are essentially the gatekeepers to all of our media, a significant portion of consumer-facing content runs through my department. This brings me great pride, especially when all our hard work culminated in an Emmy Award for Best Studio Show. I feel very lucky to have been a part of an award-winning production so early in my career; it has truly set a high bar for what I hope to achieve in a career in sports broadcasting.

How did your enrollment as a student in the award-winning PaceDocs travel documentary course offered by the Media, Communications, and Visual Arts department prepare you for your career?

I had the privilege of taking "The Doc" course, also known as Producing the Documentary, and taught by Professor Maria Luskay, twice. The first time, I served as a media manager, cinematographer, and co-lead editor for Ridge to Ranch to River to Reef: Florida's Conservation Connections (2017), through which I first discovered my passion for my work. It was a trial run for the roles that followed as a media manager, lead editor, and post-production manager on Puerto Rico: Hope in the Dark (2018). I was expected to take on a leadership position, which was daunting, given the weight of our topic: to tell the story of one of the largest natural disasters in our lifetimes. Traveling to Puerto Rico to capture footage of the damage and interview people who had lost everything is something I’ll never forget.

The Puerto Rico production allowed me to hone my technical expertise and taught me invaluable workplace skills such as meeting deadlines and managing other creatives. But the more important lessons learned were those of character and professionalism. We covered some emotionally heavy subjects, and balancing how to honor those who were part of our film, while ensuring that we reported all necessary facts, is not something that could be learned in a classroom. In addition to media ethics, I discerned how to navigate artistic differences and work with various personalities, which allowed me to grow into a more confident leader and filmmaker. Having the ability to build on those skills before even entering the "real world" was a significant steppingstone for my career.

Why did you choose to major in the Bachelor of Science in Digital Cinema and Filmmaking?

Growing up, I have always been passionate about movies, and would often delve into behind-the-scenes interviews with cast members and crew, fascinated by how my favorite shows were made. In college, and as my freshman year was nearing an end, my collegiate softball career was cut short by an injury, so I tried out some of the production courses that had caught my eye when I first looked at Pace. I started with Media Production 1 and The Making of the Motion Picture, followed by a screenwriting class during my study abroad program at Bangor University in Wales.

I was fascinated by these courses, but also by my professors who were as captivating as the subjects they taught, and I was enthralled by the endless possibilities of working in the field. With a professional-level studio available to students, all the camera gear we could need, and classes that push us to try new things and visit new places, it was an easy decision to declare my major. Suddenly, I was surrounded by a creative bubble of ideas and happenings, and I knew that this was where I wanted to be.

What other activities and organizations were you involved in as a student?

During my four years at Pace, I worked for Pace Athletics as a sports information assistant, and I was responsible for a number of game-day roles, including recording official stats, scoreboard operation, or camera operation for our live streams, and I had an absolute blast doing that. I believe this experience with Pace Athletics played a significant role in securing my current job at the MLB Network. Additionally, I was a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority and Lambda Pi Eta Communications Honor Society. Further, I was an active member of the Residence Hall Association, serving as a hall president and council member for several years.

What internships did you have as a student?

During my time at Pace, I had the opportunity to work at a number of internships. In my junior year, I secured my first internship with the Metropolitan Transit Authority in their internal media group as a production intern. I later interned with Departure Films in casting and development, and after that, with Rob Dicena, a Dyson adjunct professor and casting director who kindly opened up some assistant casting positions at his organization to all students in the Media, Communications, and Visual Arts department.

How have Pace or Dyson faculty been instrumental in your journey?

I have received tremendous support from my professors and advisors, who have always been kind and genuinely concerned about their students' welfare. My American Sign Language (ASL) professors, Joshua Loeffel and Emmanuel Azodeh, had a profound influence on my growth. When they discovered that I am deaf, yet not proficient in ASL, they always took extra time to communicate with me, and being in their ASL courses helped me fulfill a childhood need for a community I didn't realize I longed for.

With a professional-level studio available to students, all the camera gear we could need, and classes that push us to try new things and visit new places, it was an easy decision to declare my major in digital cinema and filmmaking.

One of the things I love about Pace is the close-knit environment that exists within both the dorms and in academics. Students have the opportunity to get to know professors even if they are not taking their classes. I would often hang out and chat with Professors Paul Ziek and Michelle Pulaski-Behling about current events, my projects, and the latest happenings around campus. And I still remember the many tips and tricks of the trade from Professors Melanie La Rosa and Lou Guarneri, which I often pass on to my coworkers. Professor Luskay consistently challenged me to produce my best work and helped me build my confidence as a leader and filmmaker, always willing to lend an ear whenever I needed advice.

College is a significant time in a person’s life. In what ways has your time as a Dyson student influenced you to become the person you are today?

My years as a Dyson student were among the most rewarding and introspective moments of my life, and my knowledge of the world has grown tenfold thanks to my experiences both in and out of the classroom. A well-rounded education allowed me to apply knowledge from my core and elective courses to those in media and communications, and so I graduated with a good sense of what it means to be a storyteller and an informant in a media-driven society.

In addition, I lived and learned alongside some of the most interesting people I had ever met, all from different places and socio-economic backgrounds, and today, I have friends who love and support me whether they’re 10 minutes or 3,000 miles away. Thanks to my experiences, I am now a more informed, compassionate, and confident person than I was when I first set foot on campus many years ago.

What advice would you give to our students, as they navigate their college life?

My advice to students is to be open. Because you’re trying to figure things out, there will be missteps and mistakes, and that can be terrifying. But, if you remain open to the possibilities in front of you, one of them may turn out to be the best decision you’ll ever make.