In the few hours 1990 College graduate Michael Rauch spent at Kelly Writers House last night, he offered a reassuring picture of a career path sometimes marked by insecurity.
As executive producer of the USA Network original series, “Royal Pains,” Rauch has written, produced and directed numerous projects in film and television — a success story in a field where success is often hard to come by.
“I didn’t think too hard about the next step,” Rauch explained when asked about his career trajectory. “I know how natural fear is, but I tried hard to not let the fear stop me.”
For students in the audience feeling anxious about pursuing careers in screenwriting, television or media, Rauch’s views, life experiences — not to mention his point that “the only thing you can control is how hard you work” — seemed to make the uncertainty of working in TV production manageable.
“So many people from Penn don’t make it in [creative fields],” College senior Andrew Scibelli said. But after talking to Rauch, he added, “I felt that if someone else from Penn did it, I can do it too.”
That Rauch brought with him some of the tools and tricks of his trade to last night’s talk further increased this can-do sentiment. Rauch distributed scene scripts and recreated the environment of a TV writers’ room as he talked about cast and director collaboration, filming on site and writing and modifying scripts.
Appreciating the interactive structure of the event, many students felt that Rauch’s talk allowed them not only a chance to speak with an expert in the field, but also an insider’s glance into what College freshman David Swigart called “the dialogue and culture of media production.”
Aside from discussing the anxieties that grip students interested in media-related careers and the evolution of “Royal Pains,” Rauch also spent some of the post-talk reception discussing his predictions for the future of network television in the age of Netflix and Hulu.
“Network TV is like a dinosaur that won’t go away, won’t go extinct,” he said. “And ultimately, the challenge [to compete with these sites] will make network TV better.”
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