The Dream Awakens

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March 21, 2017

Elizabeth Flaherty '17 as seen in CSB/SJU magazine

Keith and J.J.

SJU student Keith Sweet (left) took the advice of filmaker J.J. Abrams and ended up at CSB/SJU.

A not so long time ago, in a land not so far away…

Sophomore Keith Sweet interned with Bad Robot Productions in Santa Monica, California. Bad Robot is the film and television production company run by CEO J.J. Abrams, who is the director, creator or producer of film and TV favorites such as “Super 8,” “Lost,” “Star Trek Into Darkness” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” – just to name a few.

Sweet spent two summers (2015 and 2016) at Bad Robot, handling a number of daily tasks including cleaning, distributing mail, taking art classes, making his own short films and working as a production assistant on two of Abrams’ recent films:“ God Particle” and “Star Trek Beyond.” However, his favorite part of the experience was working on “The Force Awakens” film set in 2015.

“One day when I was working on set, I was in charge of locking up the props and, all of a sudden, Harrison Ford comes out and then J.J. comes out, and then they just sat there for 30 minutes, having a filmmakers conversation,” says Sweet. “I was just sitting there watching them talk, almost tearing up a little bit, because it was so surreal. I thought, this is what a filmmaker’s life is about.”

Sweet grew up watching the Disney Channel and retro film classics like “The Goonies,” “Back to the Future” and, of course, “Star Wars.” However, what really drew him to study film was his passion to be a mentor for the next generation.

“My parents worked a lot, so we got our fair share of TV time. I kind of feel like television and film helped raise me. It helped me to develop the way I think,” Sweet says.

The dream was always there. But how to start making it come true?

His first experience with Bad Robot was in 2015, while Sweet was still in high school at Verbum Dei High School in South Central Los Angles and trying to figure out where he wanted to go to college. Naturally, he turned to his mentor Abrams for advice. It’s a bit of advice Abrams himself had received and heeded from his father.

“I asked J.J. if I should go to an accredited film school and he told me ‘no,’ and said, ‘go to school to learn what to make films about – don’t go to school to learn how to make films.’”

It’s a bit of advice Abrams himself had received and heeded from his father.

“So I packed up and moved to the middle of the country to write about people,” Sweet says. At CSB/SJU, Sweet has an individualized major (composed of art, communication, English, theatre and business classes) and is studying film.

“A liberal arts education is a little bit of everything and it’s perfect for a film student because I’m learning so many different things, which will contribute to my own writing style,” says Sweet. “It makes you expand your horizons of what you would usually think.”

“Film is amazing,” Sweet concludes. “You get to meet and work with a lot of amazing people. You’re like a magician; in my eyes, you’re making magic. It’s something that I am really passionate about and something that I really enjoy doing.”