There’s a good chance that very few people imagine their classmates one day working on a national television show.
Mike Nunes, originally from Erie, graduated from Gannon University in 2001 with an undergraduate degree in communication arts and went on to receive his master’s degree in television, radio and film from Syracuse University.
Nunes said he originally decided to come to Gannon after receiving a scholarship through the Academic Decathlon that paid for his tuition and room and board. While at Gannon, he said he was a member of student government, Delta Chi and WERG-FM.
Nunes said his education at Gannon aided him as building blocks to his future career.
“My undergrad helped me learn about communication arts while also experiencing other things,” Nunes said.
Currently, Nunes lives in Los Angeles and works at NBC. He works in the Current Programing department and manages creative aspects of different shows such as “Parenthood,” “Revolution” and “Community.” He is working on six different shows at the moment.
Nunes said every show starts with an idea, outline and script, which goes through the Current Programing department. The department looks over each element, gives notes to the writer or executive producer and then adjustments are made – sometimes more than once.
When working on a script, Nunes said he can be on the set of a show for two or three days a week doing table reads. This is where the actors are at a table facing the crew of the network studio and reading the script. After this, the crew gives notes and makes adjustment before they shoot the show.
Any show on air usually has a couple hundred people working on it, Nunes said.
Once the show has been shot, Nunes said the department is given a rough cut, which they can then give notes in reaction to, such as a shot that should be in or a musical choice, before the show can be aired.
“The process of creating a show, from the idea to the time it airs, can sometimes take three to 3 1/2 months,” Nunes said.
Nunes said he received the job he has now because chose to do an internship for his master’s degree after meeting a Syracuse alumnus who worked for a small production company out in Los Angeles.
After graduation, he drove down to Erie, packed his bags and moved out to Los Angeles. He worked his way up from an office T.A., to working as someone’s assistant, to manager, to director.
Nunes said his job is a big commitment. He usually works from about 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., and he occasionally has to take work home over the weekend and sometimes has to give up personal plans if a function comes up that he has to attend.
However, Nunes said his job keeps him on his feet because no two days are the same and it has its perks – such as going on sets of different shows, attending the Emmys, going to premier parties, getting to know some cast members of different shows, going to Comic Con, getting his parents tickets to “Ellen” and several others.
Nunes said most of these things seem more exciting to people outside of the business.
“Once you’ve been in it for a while, it becomes more commonplace,” Nunes said.
Nunes said he has an appreciation for what he learned at Gannon and the practical lessons that helped to prepare him for his career post-graduation.
One class Nunes said he remembered specifically taught him how to solve problems in a group throughout the course of the semester. The class helped him to work with different ideas in a group as each problem became progressively harder throughout the semester and the group was graded on the solution it came up with.
Nunes said these skills are valuable now because when working on a show, he has days where he is on the phone with three to four people at a time.
Nunes said it’s a good idea to get involved in extra-curricular activities while students are still in school and encourages students not to box themselves in by not trying something new.
The writing skills he learned at Gannon are also very useful, Nunes said. They come in handy when he needs to convey thoughts, write notes on scripts or send an email, of which he gets a few hundred per day.
“Even the things you learn in your freshman comp class and at the Writing Center are all practical,” Nunes said. “You may not think about them, but they’re in the back of your mind.”
Some advice he said he would give to someone who was interested in getting involved in the television field would be not to limit oneself to anything. He knows it can be scary to move from somewhere like Erie or Pittsburgh to a bigger city and have a job that isn’t 9-5 daily.
If you think there’s a job you’d like, but you don’t know whether it’d be for you, try to get an internship so you have the experience, even if it’s out of your comfort zone, Nunes said.
Lastly, Nunes said it’s important to be who you are, to know who you are and the ideals you want to keep.
“If you’re comfortable looking at yourself in the mirror, you’re doing all right,” Nunes said.