Alexis Korycinski ’07

Alexis Korycinski

Alexis Korycinski has come a long way since attending Syracuse University as a musical theater major in the school of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA). Since graduating, she’s gone on to direct narrative films and documentary programming for the History Channel, TLC, Travel Channel, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and The Society of Camera Operator Awards. Most recently, Korycinski was selected as one of five participants in Warner Bros. Emerging Film Directors Workshop. Korycinski is also a fellow of the prestigious American Film Institute Directing Workshop for Women (AFI DWW) where she produced and directed a short film, “The Haircut.” She’s found her way in the filmmaking world but Alexis started like many of us, as a student figuring out her path.

How did your experiences at Syracuse University shape your career?
When I was a junior I was accepted to participate in the inaugural Sorkin Week program through VPA. It really changed my life and it put me on another pathway. We did table reads and master classes and Aaron Sorkin offered me an internship. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a narrative director. When I got back to Syracuse for my senior year I started taking more Newhouse classes to learn more about TV and film.

I was also in the drama school as a musical theater major and that was amazing. I really got to experiment and grow and it really taught me the language of acting. It gave me the skills to be comfortable and to articulate what I’m experiencing with my actors and to get the performance I need as a director. I made really great friends at Syracuse too, people that I still keep in touch with and have been able to work with professionally.

What was your first job after college?
While I was in Los Angeles my junior year for Sorkin Week, Aaron Sorkin offered me an internship with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. That’s where I met Thomas Schlamme who hired me as his second assistant right out of college. I worked for his show Life on Mars on set and in the office. That’s where I really gathered a lot of knowledge about the business. It was an amazing opportunity! I saw the magic of the camera and what filmmaking is, the whole process from casting to script to shooting and post. It was eye opening for me.

After that I started doing freelance documentary work and I had the opportunity to go to the Sundance Film Festival, which led me to my first directing project, Defining Beauty: Ms. Wheelchair America. I was very interested in giving an underrepresented group a voice and the subject matter and documentary work was a perfect combination and natural fit for me. Working on that project for four years led to more work in documentaries and since then I’ve moved on to experiment with scripted narratives.

What has been a major highlight of your career thus far?
Winning the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Newport Beach Film Festival for Defining Beauty. I love creating and I love collaborating with friends. That was a big moment. Another highlight has been directing and producing “The Haircut.” We had over 100 crewmembers, the biggest crew I’d ever run. Being on set and working with actors, that’s when I realized that I could do this forever, as a career.

How have you stayed involved and connected to SU?
After college I was the vice president of programming for the Alumni Club of Southern California (SoCalOrange). I planned the Danny Zuker event for the Syracuse University Los Angeles (SULA) Semester program. Now I’m on the alumni club board and I’m constantly going to SULA events and helping Joan Adler with anything she needs. Years ago my feature documentary, Defining Beauty, was shown at the Syracuse International Film Festival and that’s when I met my husband. Syracuse has been a special place for me.

What are you working on next?
Right now I’m working on turning The Haircut into a feature film. It’s so exciting. I’ve also been reading scripts to figure out what my next project will be. I’ve read 14 in the last 3 or 4 weeks. The Haircut is hitting the festival circuit this year too. I have a great team of producers around me and I hope we grow together and that we’ll be working together in the next five years.

By Whitney Marin

Whitney Marin is a senior television, radio and film and public policy dual major.