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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Hollywood executive, alumnus John Heinsen returns to UA


    Courtesy of Kurt Kelly / ActorsReporter

    John Heinsen, CEO of Bunnygraph Entertainment, during an interview with Kurt Kelly of Actors Reporter at the American Film Institute in December 2013. After graduating from the UA in 1994, Heinsen returned to campus on Friday to share his Hollywood experiences with students of the School of Theatre, Film and Television.

    Behind the glitz and glamor of the annual Academy Awards are people like John Heinsen, working diligently backstage to make sure memorable acceptance speeches get posted on the web.

    Heinsen returned to the UA campus over the weekend to share his experiences in Hollywood and the entertainment industry with students of the School of Theatre, Film and Television. Heinsen graduated from the UA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in media arts back in 1994.

    “When [the] opportunity presents itself, I find time to come back,” Heinsen said. Heinsen is the CEO of Bunnygraph Entertainment, a digital content company helping writers develop series for different technological venues.

    Having worked as the manager of primetime programming for Fox, Heinsen has spent his career creatively supervising shows such as “Family Guy,” “Dark Angel” and “That ’70s Show.” Heinsen is also a member of the National Board of Directors for the Producers Guild of America and was the digital showrunner for the Disney-ABC Television Group.

    After graduating from the UA, Heinsen attended the American Film Institute Conservatory to earn a Master of Fine Arts in producing in 1996.

    “I was very fortunate in that I was able to go to film school at the AFI, which is the No. 1 graduate program in the world,” Heinsen said, “and I was very lucky to get in; it was a very small program.”

    During his time at the UA, Heinsen also worked with the KVOA-TV for two years as a producer.

    “For me, it’s really fun to come back, because my experience at UA was such a wonderful one,” Heinsen said. “Going from Chicago to Tucson, it was such a different place than I was used to that it really was a wonderful place for me to have that traditional college experience of finding yourself and putting yourself on your life path.”

    Before Heinsen graduated with a bachelor’s degree in media arts, he was originally studying architecture in Chicago. He soon changed his mind when he found the documentary genre particularly interesting. Heinsen said coming back to the UA is a humble reminder of where he came from before his career in Hollywood.

    The opportunity to be a part of the AFI graduate program allowed him to hone his craft and collaborate with other young filmmakers. Heinsen said having this professional experience gave him a leg up on his career.

    During his recent visit, students had the opportunity to learn about the rigorous work of having a career in Hollywood but also what to expect when entering the industry.

    “Nowadays, what’s exciting is that with the Internet, it’s so much easier to not only produce your stories, but [also to] get them out,” Heinsen said. “So, that’s actually a big reason why I like coming back and talking to students, because I feel they have as much to give me as I may have to give them in terms of advice, ’cause they’re really on the pulse of things now.”

    Heinsen’s advice for film students is to not be afraid to take chances and always bet on yourself and to know that hard work will always pay off.


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