Find Your Passion: Producing Success

By Misty Mathews
May 6, 2014

Leigh RusevlyanA Florence native, Rusevlyan has produced a series of commercials for Snapchat (Jeff Hanson).

Those who believe people in creative professions are scatterbrained and disorganized clearly have never met Leigh Rusevlyan.

The University of Alabama telecommunication and film senior wants to be a producer. And that job requires a high level of, well, organization. Rusevlyan has already shown she has the chops to produce high-profile projects -- she produced a series of commercials for popular social media application Snapchat while interning in Los Angeles last summer.

“I ordered equipment, managed the budget, contracted crew, managed pretty much all the paperwork that goes into a major production, everyone’s payroll, everyone’s contracts, talent release forms, dealing with people we needed,” Rusevlyan says. “I even contracted with reptile ‘talent’ agents because we needed some turtles. Pretty much anything Riley, the director, needed, I got.”

Most interesting is that Rusevlyan wasn’t even in L.A. to intern with Snapchat. She completed the Snapchat project under contract while working a full-time internship with a different company.

“I definitely dove in headfirst,” Rusevlyan says.

Dr. Rachel Raimist, a UA assistant professor of telecommunication and film, taught Rusevlyan in a winter interim class in Los Angeles in 2012, and she says the Florence native stood out from the beginning.

“She was organized, she was together, she could clearly communicate with guest speakers,” Raimist says. “I could see really clearly that she has an eye for detail, is good with budgets and paperwork and organization. She wants to be a producer, and that’s definitely the right career for her.”

Rusevlyan says she first became interested in film as a teenager, with two filmmakers in her family – Teddy Champion, a doctorial candidate in the College of Communication and Information Sciences, and Maya Champion, an instructor in telecommunication and film. She also credits her family with allowing her to make a path for herself.

“My parents have always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do,” Rusevlyan says. “I wasn’t forced to wear big bows. I wasn’t forced to do ballet if I wanted to do baseball. Their only boundary was ‘don’t do anything to make us take this away.’ I think it made me so much stronger as a person now rather than having such strict guidelines.”

Added to that family guidance were many UA-provided tools necessary to be a successful producer, Rusevylan says. She also had the freedom, she says, to put her own twist to it.

“Alabama has given me the opportunity to create my own path and make it exactly what I want it to be,” Rusevlyan says. “I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to be in high school, but I was able to figure out what I like and what I don’t like and create the exact program I wanted for myself.”

Raimist says Rusevlyan requested, for her final undergraduate semester, a directed study to look further into things learned while working for Snapchat.

“She’s a real go-getter in any situation,” Raimist says. “She’s not afraid to work hard, so I think she will be really successful.”

Rusevlyan also serves as co-chair of the Black Warrior Film Festival, which the telecommunication and film department co-sponsored for the first time last year on campus, and has traveled to the Cannes Film Festival to see the screening of a film she produced.

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This story is part of the Find Your Passion feature section of the UA home page. For more stories, please visit Find Your Passion or Crimson Spotlight. To learn more about how you can find your passion at The University of Alabama, please visit UA Undergraduate Admissions.