September 29, 2016

Webster graduate finds dream in New York: Five questions with Dan Debrey

Webster University graduate Dan Debrey has a profile on Internet Movie Database (IMDb) that credits him with 13 works in the camera and electrical department, four works in cinematography and one work as an actor. He graduated in May 2014 and began to work on film sets pretty quickly afterwards.

Debrey majored in film production and minored in photography. Originally from Springfield, Illinois, he moved to New York, a place he has been wanting to live since his sophomore year of college almost immediately following graduation. In 2014, he worked on eight films as well as multiple commercials –including one for Beats by Dr. Dre– music videos and TV shows.

Question: Why did you decide to move to New York after graduation?

Answer: I said I was going to go to New York as soon as I graduated. But it was kind of a leap of faith. Up until a week before moving here, I didn’t have any jobs lined up. I was just going to wing it.

Q: Your first job was on set for a film called “Experimenter,” which includes celebrities like Winona Ryder, Peter Sarsgaard, Kellan Lutz and Jim Gaffigan. What was your reaction to getting that job?

A: I was in my apartment, and I was jumping around and freaking out. It was awesome and I couldn’t believe it was happening. Once that feature happened, everything changed. That movie started it all.

Q: Why do you credit your first film for getting you to all of your jobs?

A: All of my jobs have been about the personal relationships that I made on that first set. It’s all about the connections with people. You need to know people to get somewhere, but your skills will get you further.

Q: How did college prepare you for your career?

A: The college experience is a helpful transition from high school to the real world. But it was really outside the classroom where I learned the most. Get your hands dirty, go outside and make mistakes. College is the time to make those mistakes. When you’re in the real world, you’ve learned from those mistakes, and you can apply your knowledge.

Q: What other advice would you give to college students who are looking for a successful career after graduation?

A: Have a goal in mind. Have some idea of what you want to do when you graduate and work toward it while you’re in school. Put in the work, but also have things on the side – personal projects, traveling, and learning new skills. It’s all about experiences, not strictly your career. Don’t be afraid to contact Webster alumni for possible job opportunities or other advice. Reaching out to Webster alumni worked out really well for me and helped me a lot. You can also reach out to people who live in other cities, even if you don’t want to move there. Just ask them what they do and for advice.

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