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Landmark Alumni Visit to Discuss Careers in Film Industry

By Rebecca Nash '13

On October 10, two Landmark alumni, Mark Gessner '02 and Aaron Wolf '02 (pictured, left to right), came to speak at Landmark about their careers in the film industry and to screen a short film that they recently collaborated on. Since graduating Landmark, Gessner has become an actor, landing roles in Colgate commercials, Law and Order SVU, and Orange is the New Black, among others. Wolf has started a production company called Howling Wolf Productions.

During their visit to Landmark, the two alumni visited business classes, met with President Peter Eden, had a tour of campus (to see the additions and improvements made to campus since their departure), and sat down to dinner in the dining hall with several faculty members and a reporter for The Independent, before heading to the EAB to start their film screening and Q&A session. During dinner, they answered questions about their experiences at Landmark and how those experiences have influenced their lives and careers since graduating.

Neither Gessner nor Wolf wanted to be at Landmark when they first got here. Both of them had struggled academically at their previous schools (Gessner went to Connecticut College and Wolf went to Colorado University before coming to Landmark). Each of them said that their parents made them come here. Wolf said that Landmark was the only school his parents would pay for. After a few days, he started to embrace it, and made friends like Gessner.

The two became friends a few days after their arrival at Landmark, when a mutual friend of theirs brought Gessner to Wolf’s dorm room.

“I thought who is this guy? What a shmuck,” Wolf said about their first encounter.

Soon thereafter the two bonded over their mutual loves of film and baseball. At the end of their time at Landmark, they made a film together call The LD, which became required viewing for the next few generations of incoming Landmark students at orientation. The film can now be found in the college library.

Dean Luciani introduced the two alumni at the event held for them in the EAB. After their introduction they screened a short film which they had collaborated on recently called Guest House, written and directed by Wolf and starring Gessner. The film originally premiered at the famous Chinese Theater in LA and is now being screened at different festivals around the country and gaining critical acclaim.

After showing the film, the two alumni answered questions from audience members about the film and about their lives since Landmark. Wolf says that the story line for the film is mostly based on events that have happened in his life. They discussed the process of shooting the film, including preproduction and postproduction, and promoting the film over the course of the past year.

Both Wolf and Gessner credit their experiences at Landmark for allowing them to get where they are in their careers. When asked about specific situations in which Landmark has helped, they responded by saying, “How much time do you have?”

“Before I came here I was late to everything and I was unreliable,” said Wolf. “Here I learned how to be reliable. If I didn’t go here I wouldn’t have a job.”

“The moments that you feel the least confident and are wondering why you are here – those are the moments that prove exactly why you should be here,” said Gessner. “I learned a skillset that short-circuits the problems that ADHD brings to my life."

They both talked about how Landmark has allowed them to find the parts of life that fulfill them because of the skills they learned here.

“You will literally become a better version of yourself…because of the work that you put in here,” said Gessner.

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