SSU alum shares his secrets to success

Life is full of ups and downs, but the most important thing to remember when pursuing your passions is to be persistent and work hard toward your goals. Sonoma State University alum, Sean Tadlock knows reality and doesn’t take the opportunities he’s been given for granted. Tadlock is a rising figure in the film industry, from humble beginnings and shows us that with the right attitude and dedication we can all achieve our dreams. Tadlock is working his way up the industry ranks currently as a production assistant. He has worked on major films such as “Hotel Transylvania 3,” the newly released movie “Smallfoot,” and the highly anticipated “Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse” which will be released on December 14.

Tadlock’s interest in the film industry started at a young age. “When I was eight years old my dad bought me my first video camera and that was the beginning. I always thought I wanted to be an actor, but when I started recording myself I knew that I did not have what it takes and would much rather be behind the camera, directing or writing,” said Tadlock. After that experience he began creating short films. For many summers he made little movies with his sister and niece for his family’s enjoyment and continued to make movies once in a while as he grew up. It wasn’t until Tadlock entered Sonoma State as a Communications and Media Studies Major that he realized he could turn his passion for film into something more than just hobby. That’s when he began to seriously pursue film as a career path. 

Even in Tadlock’s first couple of years at Sonoma State he didn’t begin taking classes relevant to the film industry until his sophomore year. “An environmental studies professor my sophomore year really encouraged our class to follow what we love to  do and that doing anything else would not be a life well lived. I realized in that moment that the only thing I was ever passionate about was making movies and telling stories,” said Tadlock. After experiencing that epiphany Tadlock spent his next two years at Sonoma State participating in SSU-TV and taking any and all film courses he could, trying to learn as much as he possibly could before graduating. In those packed two years Tadlock found a small group of likeminded students, collectively called Studio 1063, and began to make short films with them. Their hard work and collaboration during their senior year earned them an invitation to the highly acclaimed Cannes Film Festival to screen two movies they had made. “After that amazing trip, it pretty much sealed the deal of making this industry something to seriously pursue as my career,” said Tadlock.  

After graduation Tadlock moved back to his hometown of Sacramento and began to work in construction for his father.
     “Let me tell you,  it was far from what I thought post grad would be like,” said Tadlock. But after three long months he finally received a call from his fellow Sonoma State alumni, Anna, telling him she had just received a job in Los Angeles and was ready to move. 

Despite not having any leads, Tadlock jumped at the opportunity and moved to Los Angeles. He then spent the following two months constantly applying for jobs without any luck, so he was forced to work at a nearby movie theatre for about six months. It wasn’t until about a year after he graduated that he was able to land his current job at Sony Picture Imageworks after a brief stint in CBS’s marketing department. 

Since working for Sony Picture Imageworks, Tadlock just finished working on Smallfoot, which was released on Sept. 28.
     Tadlock commented on his experience. “I was a production assistant, essentially an office assistant. I set up screening rooms, got lunches, coffees, and did anything to support the crew. It was nothing glamorous but I learned so much about the animation process and why it takes so long to build one of these movies,” said Tadlock.
    “It felt like I was going to school again because every day I would learn something new. I got to sit in on reviews with the visual effects supervisor, producer, and directors every day and really see what goes on ‘behind the camera’. It was truly an amazing experience and I’m so grateful to be in this position, especially knowing it can take awhile to get your foot in the door,” said Tadlock.

Tadlock’s current project is “Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse.” He’s helping the marketing team create posters and all the visual advertising for the movie that comes out this December.
     “It’s been fun learning about this side of the industry but I still am very focused on being on the more creative, story side of the business,” said Tadlock. 

Finally, Tadlock offered this advice about helping those looking to get into the film industry. “I’m still very new to this industry, but I will say if you want to get into film or any industry for that matter, start using your resources at SSU to talk to people in the field you want to be in. I wish I would have better utilized SSU to get a more accurate grasp on what the industry was like. Professors may know alumni you could reach out to and the internship coordinators are there to help you find opportunities! Gain as much experience as you can because you don’t want to get your first gig in the business and not know what the heck you’re doing. College is a huge privilege that we have so make sure you take advantage of all the opportunities it can give you,” said Tadlock.