Joe Carnahan ’95, Television and Film Director, and Kevin Hale ’92, Television and Film Editor, Collaborators on TV and movie hits The Grey and "The Blacklist" among others

The story of Joe Carnahan ’95 (English Literature and Film Studies) and Kevin Hale ’92 (Communications Studies) spans more than two decades and reads like a feel-good Hollywood movie plot: Young Carnahan hopes to fulfill aspirations beyond his small Midwestern town. Attends college in the Golden State and majors in film studies. Takes a job at a local television station where he meets Hale, a like-minded producer. The kindred spirits begin to bridge the gap between fantasy and reality of making it in Hollywood.

"Kevin is an incredibly creative and inspirational person in my life," says Carnahan. "I'll never forget the first $600 check I got to buy film and materials was from Kevin. It was such a wonderful endorsement from one friend to another about your dreams."

That seed money helped the two produce Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane, a late ’90s film that was accepted to the Sundance Film Festival. The critical acclaim launched Carnahan into official filmmaker status, flexing his directing muscle with movies that include Narc, Smokin' Aces and the A-Team.

Then came the Hollywood production opportunity that reunited Hale and Carnahan.

"Joe wanted to get me into editing which was always a dream of mine," says Hale. "Finally, the stars aligned and I was able to work with him on The Grey. So in 2011, I left the TV world and made the leap into Hollywood."

The adventure thriller starring Liam Neeson was a box office hit for the director and editor. Since then, the Sac State alumni have crossed from the silver to the small screen with a number of commercials and television series including Emmy-nominated "The Blacklist" and "State of Affairs" on NBC.

Carnahan's move to television comes as the medium is enjoying a renaissance.

"I feel that film is not supporting projects it would have 10 years ago," Carnahan says. "It's a different time and place and you have to adapt to current circumstances. TV is a shorter, more intense commitment and affords me better creative capacity than some of the larger endeavors."

There's no business like show business which, according to the California Film Commission, brings $30 billion and more than 200,000 jobs into the state's economy each year. And what about the industry being full of hard knocks? True, says Carnahan, citing his ‘State of Affairs' political drama that was cancelled after a short run on NBC.

"I had such a good time with those guys, I thought we did some really exceptional things. I don't think any of us personalize it because I'm glad I had that moment in my life. It taught me how to be a faster, more concise writer which is good," says Carnahan.

"Joe is slowly building this little army around him," Hale adds. "He has a stunt man, photographers, editors. He surrounds himself with people he considers talented and people he really likes. When you work with a group of people with positive energy, it's a really great experience."

With more projects on the horizon and a story that is still unfolding, this filmmaking duo certainly seem destined for a happy ending.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2016 edition of Sac State Magazine.

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