Witt Grads Bierut and Neff Find West Coast Success
Two Wittenberg grads, Parker Neff and Pat Bierut (class of 2011), both found themselves on the West Coast, following their dreams of television and movie productions following graduation. Like previously showcased Wittenberg grads Haily Hall and Drew Sykes, Neff and Bierut have followed their dreams all the way out to Los Angeles and Hollywood, pursuing a career as inspirational as the classes they took here at Wittenberg.
“I work on different projects and shows, so my company is changing all the time, but I’m always working out of L.A.,” Neff said.
Currently, Neff spends most of his time working as a Script Coordinator, but he started out as a production intern on “Brothers & Sisters.” He’s also been an Office PA, a Production Secretary, and a driver. He’s currently working on a NBC Universal show called “Good Girls.”
Bierut, on the other hand, recently left a job to pursue his own writing, and to take some much needed time off.
“Until June I was working for an actor/writer named Mike O’Malley,” Bierut said. “I managed his travel and his calendar and vetted scripts and went to development meetings. I left the job over the summer to take some time off and work on my own writing.”
Like other class of 2011 Wittenberg alumni Hall and Sykes, Neff and Bierut took the same Wittenberg film class. Unlike Sykes, Neff knew that he wanted to go into film following his graduation with Wittenberg.
“That class did not have an impact on my career choice – I knew what I wanted to do before I came to Witt,” Neff said. “But, it was instrumental in showing me how to have this career, [and] how to develop good habits as a professional and a writer.”
Like Neff, Bierut also shared that the film class with English professor Michael McClelland and alumnus Mike Hissrich helped him land a career post-Wittenberg.
“It made me feel more confident about going to L.A., which was something I’d planned on since high school and been discussing with Parker since freshman year,” Bierut said. “And while the class didn’t have the biggest effect on my choice, it did have a big impact on my actual career.”
Bierut also shared that he knew what he wanted to do post-Wittenberg before beginning his freshman year.
“By the time I arrived at Witt I knew I wanted ‘Hollywood’ to be my eventual move,” Bierut said. “At the time I thought I would get the same generic business degree as everyone else and then just pivot, but that was way too hard because I wasn’t a particularly good student. I decided to get out alive with an English degree and figure the rest out later. I think it was second semester of sophomore year when Parker, Drew, and I got the ball rolling on the interdepartmental major.”
After graduation, Bierut found himself hunting for a job after spending a few years at Chase, and eventually reached out to Hissrich in hopes of a job.
“I decided enough was enough so I asked Hissrich, who taught the screenwriting class with Mac, for a job on ‘Shameless,’” Bierut said. “If you don’t know anyone, it’s very likely you won’t get a job out here. Few positions are merit-based and that’s especially true for entry-level jobs.”
To those thinking of a similar career, Neff shared some words of advice.
“[The] path can be a drain,” Neff said. “I spend a few months of every year unemployed, either looking for the next project or waiting to see if the last project will return for another season. You have to have a good deal of internal strength and belief.”
After mentioning Pocket Lint’s first performance in Chakeres Theater and a host of wonderful Writing Center sessions as his favorite memories at Wittenberg, Neff mentioned: “Or Fringspield break, the spring break where me and a fifteen or twenty friends stayed on campus to try every bar in the city.”
Likewise, Bierut shared fond memories of “Fringspield” break, while also sharing a fond memory of a post-English department event that same spring.
“Senior year, Parker and I stayed in Springfield over spring break and convinced a bunch of guys in the fraternity to do the same,” Bierut said. “We went to seventeen bars over the course of 4-5 nights. One of the best ways to get to know actual Springfield and as far as I know a pretty unique experience. Also senior year, we got left alone in Founders with Mac and Kent Dixon after the English Department awards and stole endless amounts of beer from the taps. We were in there for hours and no one checked on us.”
Although the group is separated by both distance and time, Neff said that he still maintains contact with as many alumni as he can.
“I am close friends with many Witt folks in L.A. and keep in constant contact, at least with those I’m closest to,” Neff said. “We haven’t had much chance to work with each other professionally (besides the short I made with Drew several years ago), but we use each other as sounding boards and for support.”
Bierut gave more words of advice to those pursuing a career that echo other advice given by fellow Wittenberg alumni.
“Lastly, do not be intimidated by people who went to film school,” Bierut said. “It’s given most of them absolutely no leg up whatsoever.”