UCF Alumnus Lands $1.4 Million Deal on “Shark Tank”

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UCF alumnus Gaston Blanchet, ’09 (right), appeared with business partner Jesse Potash on the Dec. 4 episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” where the entrepreneurs made a $1.4 million deal for their invention, Trunkster. (PHOTO: Trunkster Facebook page)

The popular reality television show “Shark Tank” gives entrepreneurs a chance to potentially secure a business deal with one or more self-made millionaires (aka “Sharks”). On each episode, guests try to convince the sharks to help fund their business ideas, in an effort to turn their innovative dreams into a million-dollar realities.

The Burnett Honors College alumnus Gaston Blanchet, ’09, and his business partner, Jesse Potash, dove into the unpredictable waters of the “Shark Tank” on the Dec. 4 episode, ultimately making a deal with two sharks for $1.4 million and 5 percent equity for their unique luggage invention, Trunkster.

The Trunkster, created for young professionals and other frequent travelers who live out of their suitcases, is available in two sizes, and incorporates a roll-top front, with TSA-compliant lock, instead of the usual zipper. It also features a built-in digital scale, USB charging station and GPS-enabled tracking system. In addition, it’s water and shock resistant, and comes with a price tag starting at $395.

The young entrepreneurs ran an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014, which raised nearly $1.4 million — way more than their original goal of $50,000.

During the “Shark Tank” presentation, technology innovator Robert Herjavec was the first to express interest in the product, offering $1.4 million for 30 percent equity. Venture capitalist Kevin O’Leary offered to split the deal with Herjavec, but was denied, and instead offered $1.4 million for 37 percent equity, stating his offer was just as ridiculous as the Trunkster founders’ $28 million valuation.

Lori Greiner, the “Queen of QVC,” then explained how her experience and knowledge of other specialized retail items make her the best fit for the deal, and that she’d be willing to invest $1.4 million for 15 percent. Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of AXS TV and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, also expressed interest, but had a hard time justifying an investment at the valuation because of the many risks involved with a pre-sale company.

The two inventors then asked to step outside to discuss their plan of action.

Upon their return, the pair countered Cuban and Greiner, proposing the two Sharks split the $1.4 million investment in exchange for the original offer of 5 percent equity, with a guarantee of paying the investors back in full within 24 months. Plus, Blanchet and Potash assured the Sharks that if they failed to meet the deadline, they would double Cuban and Greiner’s equity (to 10 percent), in addition to paying them $1 per unit sold in royalties, in perpetuity.

Greiner immediately accepted the guys’ offer, followed by Cuban, and the fate of Trunkster was sealed with a deal.

WATCH THE EPISODE ON ABC.COM

More Info on Trunkster

 

Fun fact: “Shark Tank” is produced by UCF alumnus Clay Newbill, ’82.

 

Alumnus Magician Performs for Penn & Teller

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Penn & Teller: Fool Us — “Penn’s Favorite Card Trick”
Pictured (L-R): Teller, Kostya Kimlat, and Penn Jillett
Photo: Jacob Kepler/The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved
Orlando magician, Kostya Kimlat, ’10, appeared on an Aug. 17 episode of the CW’s “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” a one-hour competition series celebrating magic and featuring the legendary duo, Penn & Teller.

On each episode, aspiring magicians are invited to perform their best trick to try and fool one of magic’s most famous pairs. None of the competing magicians get to perform the trick more than once, and there are no camera tricks, secret edits or helpful camera cuts.

In the seventh episode of the show’s second season, Kimlat performed an original card trick he developed when he was 19 years old. But, Kimlat didn’t go on the show with a focus on fooling the magic duo.

“It was an honor to be invited to perform for Penn and Teller,” he says. “I’ve been watching them since I started in magic 20 years ago, and I never would have imagined this opportunity.”

Lucky for Kimlat, he was able to fool the guys, which means he’ll be opening up for the magicians’ celebrated show at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in November.

WATCH HIS TRICK:

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In 2006, Kimlat was the youngest magician to be featured on the cover of Magic Magazine.

A resident of Orlando, he founded See Magic Live, which trains and books magicians for events across the country. His company’s local team serves as the magicians for the NBA’s Orlando Magic and teaches magic classes for kids and adults at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

His local ties run deep — he’s a graduate of Winter Park High School and the University of Central Florida, and he’s been a weekly fixture at Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster, performing an intimate dinner and magic show at the Lee Road steakhouse for the last seven years.

In addition, Kimlat is a motivational speaker, using magic to train employees at organizations around the world, like NASA and GE. When he presents his keynotes and workshops, he unravels magic’s centuries-old principles of perception and secrets of communication, empowering people to be more effective in their business and everyday lives. Often referred to as “the business magician,” Kimlat has presented his sophisticated brand of magic to thinking audiences in more than 200 cities on five continents.

Kimlat graduated from the UCF Burnett Honors College with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. His Honors in the Major thesis was titled, “The Role of Magician and Philosopher in Society: The Archetype of Wonder and its Cognitive Implications in Modern Life.”

He’s currently authoring his first book, titled, “Think Like a Magician.”

To learn more about this magic Knight, visit kostyakimlat.com.

Sweet Revenge

Radio-TV alumna spends her days keeping one of TV’s most popular dramas on schedule

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Jordan Henry, ’12 | Assistant to Line Producer, “Revenge”

By Angie Lewis, ’03

It’s only been a little more than two years since Jordan Henry, ’12, graduated from UCF, but she’s already added some pretty big names to her resume, which includes working as a production assistant on Bravo’s “Top Chef Duels,” temping as an office assistant at Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and interning at E! Entertainment Television’s “The Soup.” Her current gig, as the assistant to the line producer for ABC’s “Revenge,” may be the biggest name yet.

Her daily work for the primetime series includes maintaining the show’s production calendar, attending production meetings, tracking cast availability and working with ABC Legal on show clearances.

“I get to interact with various departments both on ‘Revenge’ and at ABC during the production of each episode, and I love seeing how everything comes together to create the finished product,” Henry says.

She hopes the experience she’s gaining will one day lead her to a position as a development executive for a television network.

Henry graduated from UCF with a bachelor’s degree in radio-television, and then went on to earn a master’s degree in television from Boston University.

Having grown up in West Virginia, Henry hadn’t heard of UCF until she began researching colleges.

“I toured the campus when I was in Orlando visiting family and ended up loving everything about it,” she explains.

While she was a student, she worked on Knightly News, directing live shows, and was a part of the Honors Congress, National Broadcasting Society and the Italian Club, just to name a few.

As an alumna and resident of Los Angeles, where “Revenge” is produced, she remains connected to her alma mater through the L.A. UCF Alumni Club.

That’s a Wrap Q&A

Q. Who’s your favorite character on “Revenge?”
A. Nolan Ross, the snarky tech genius

Q. Can you give us any hints as to how this season will end?
A. I can’t, because I don’t know, but I’m sure there will be plenty of surprises!

Q. What advice would you give to current radio-TV majors at UCF? 
A. Be informed! Watch, read and listen to as many things as you can. You never know what you’ll learn or where inspiration will strike. Be able to form opinions about content and develop your own point of view. And network, network, network! You can never know too many people in this industry.

Q. Any hidden talents?
A. I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do/Karate.

Q. If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?
A. Leslie Knope from “Parks and Recreation” because she is a glorious, hardworking, loyal, passionate person, invested in pursuing her dreams as well as building strong relationships with her friends and loved ones. And, also because she eats a lot of waffles.

Q. Last TV show you watched?
A. I just watched the newest episodes of “The Good Wife” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” I’ve also been watching “Friends” on Netflix.

Q. All-time favorite TV show?
A. “Scrubs”

Q. What part of pop culture do you wish would just go away? 
A. The Kardashians

Q. What do you do for fun?
A. Trying new restaurants and seeing movies are two of my favorite things to do with friends. I also really love to bake in my free time.

Q. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A. Anything Italian, really. Probably lasagna or ravioli.

Q. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
A. Moving to Los Angeles without a job or an apartment was really intimidating. It’s worked out for me so far though!

Q. Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A. “Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.”
—Tina Fey, Bossypants

The Producer

Communication alumna calls shots for one of the world’s news leaders

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Victoria Moll-Ramirez, ’09 | Cross-Platform Associate Producer, CNN

By Julia Anderson, ‘14

Victoria Moll-Ramirez, ’09, says her bachelor’s degree in radio-television from UCF has meant everything to her in her career. Her best memories at UCF include hours spent in the Nicholson School of Communication’s Knightly Newsroom.

“Every meltdown, every slice of pizza and every soda I had in that newsroom is so fondly remembered,” she says. “The countless times we all looked at each other and asked, ‘Why are we doing this?!’ Totally worth it.”

Although it was challenging at the time, she thanks her experience in the RTV broadcast journalism track for her success.

Shortly after she graduated, Moll-Ramirez started working as an assignment editor at WKMG-Local 6 News Orlando, where she had previously interned. She left WKMG in 2011 after being the first UCF alumna chosen for the NBC News Associate Program in New York City. Out of more than 1,500 applicants she was one of seven chosen for the prestigious program.

In 2012, NBC News promoted her to bureau coordinator of its Miami office. At NBC, she helped generate content for all of their platforms, including NBCNews.com, “The Today Show,” “NBC Nightly News,” MSNBC and NBCLatino.com.

After an incredible three years at NBC News, she moved on to become a cross-platform associate producer at CNN, which is based out of Atlanta.

Moll-Ramirez answered some questions about her time at UCF, the difficulties and rewards of being in the news industry, and shared advice for students and alumni.

Q&A in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

Q. Why did you choose to attend UCF?
A. It’s going to sound a little silly, but the reason I chose UCF is because it was the university that sent me the most promotional mail. One day I just thought to myself, “Well, if these people want me so bad, let me check this out.”

Q. How has your UCF degree helped you in your career?
A. My UCF degree has been essential in my career. All of my jobs have required a degree in journalism. Over time, I’ve also realized how great the RTV broadcast journalism program was. I’ve had colleagues who went to Columbia, Northwestern, USC, Berkeley, you name it. Not once have I ever felt like I fell behind.

Q. Favorite thing about your job?
A. No two days are ever the same — coming into work every day and not knowing what’s going to happen. Not realizing the moment you walk in through those doors, you may be a few moments away from informing the world about a certain historical event, good or bad, is invaluable.

Q. Most memorable experience on the job?
A. I’d have to say it was the 10th anniversary of September 11th. I was working for NBC at the time in New York City and got to be a part of the team that covered it. When the names of the fallen were being called and I looked at my colleagues, many of whom covered the actual attacks, with tears down their cheeks, it was so real. Seeing the fountains from high up and knowing that’s where so many lives were lost — the hurt was palpable.

Q. What piece of advice would you give to current UCF students, as well as fellow Knights?
A. To current students, UCF is becoming a bigger and bigger name. Don’t underestimate it. A degree is what you make of it. Not having a degree is a lot tougher than having one. Be proud, always. Oh, and INTERN! INTERN, INTERN, INTERN! It’s more important than most of your classes!

For alumni, let’s be friends! I love UCF for all the doors it opened for me. A strong alumni association makes a huge difference.

Now, for some fun questions. Moll-Ramirez shared some personal info to help us get to know her better:

Q. Do you have any special/hidden talents?
A. When in top cardio shape, I’m pretty great at jumping rope. Bizarre, I know. But I actually became obsessed with it while at UCF. They used to have a half-hour class at the recreation center and I started taking it. The rest is history.

Q. What do you do for fun?
A. I love trivia nights and playing kickball. Yes, kickball — don’t judge. I also listen to Pitbull and Romeo Santos (a Spanish language singer) way too much. Also, the regular stuff like hanging out with friends, traveling and watching the news.

Q. What’s the most generous or thoughtful gift you’ve ever received?
A. The most thoughtful gift I ever received was really more like a gesture. On my last day at NBC News, my colleagues threw a huge surprise party for me. My desk was decorated — with pictures of Sanjay Gupta and Wolf Blitzer included — there were balloons, they made posters with pictures of all of my favorite things, they ordered food, I got flowers and even a crown! It was like my Quinceañera all over again! I didn’t expect it and it was above and beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined.

Alter Ego

Alumnus works as an engineer by day and a food writer by night

Ricky Ly, '08, and wife May (Wong), '07, enjoy culinary delights at Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival for ABC's "The Chew."
Ricky Ly, ’08, and wife May (Wong), ’07, enjoy culinary delights at Epcot’s 2014 International Food & Wine Festival for ABC’s “The Chew.”
Ricky Ly, ’08 | Civil Engineer, Stantec Consulting Engineers + Blogger, TastyChomps.com

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Inspired by Indiana Jones’ life of “action, adventure, cool historical artifacts and saving damsels in distress,” Ricky Ly, ’08, grew up wanting to be an archaeologist. But, instead of discovering ancient civilizations, he’s helping to construct new ones, as a professional engineer for Stantec Consulting Engineers Inc. And, instead of saving lives, he’s also teaching everyone how to savor flavors, as a food blogger and author.

Unlike Indiana Jones, however, Ly doesn’t mind snakes. Snake fruit, that is, which happens to be the strangest food he’s ever eaten. Also known as salak, this strange piece of produce is from Bali, Indonesia, and has scales like a snake on the outside, with white, fleshy fruit on the inside.

“It reminded me of Lychee fruit, but less sweet,” he says. “The creepiest part was peeling the skin off. Shivers!”

Ly says being a foodie has always been in his blood, stemming from his father owning a restaurant and having family in the business, and from his Vietnamese/Chinese heritage.

“I also enjoy using both the left and right sides of my brain, and writing helps me get that part out,” he explains. “I started writing for the Central Florida Future while at UCF, and then began my blog after graduation.”

His blog, TastyChomps.com, and book, “The Food Lovers’ Guide to Orlando,” help fellow foodies discover new restaurants and dishes, as well as learn about little-known places.

Because of his connection to local food culture, Ly, and his wife, May (Wong), ’07, were recently chosen to participate in a segment about Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival for ABC’s “The Chew,” which aired Oct. 9. The couple spent a full day at the park with a camera crew, taking a chocolate boot camp class with famed chocolatier Erika Davis and walking around the World Showcase trying different dishes.

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Click the photo to watch the segment.

On a typical day, Ly tries to write a post or two every evening, before heading to bed. That’s after spending his day as a civil engineer, improving his community.

“One thing about civil engineering is seeing your designs and plans come to life after construction,” he explains. “It’s awesome knowing that you helped create [a] road or drainage system. It’s like leaving a legacy behind.”

Ly chose UCF because of its strong reputation and record as a great engineering school. Plus, his family is from West Palm Beach, so Orlando was the perfect place in case he needed to be home for a weekend. He decided to major in engineering because he loved math and science throughout grade school, and really liked the idea that his work could help better our society and community.

As a student at UCF, Ly stayed busy. He served as an SGA senator, representing the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and held the office of vice chair for the Financial Allocations for Organizations committee. Later, he served as a member of the Hollinger/Berkowitz administration, as the director of SGA Multicultural Affairs. He also served as president of the Vietnamese-American Student Association, was founder of the Asian Pacific-American Coalition and was a founding brother of the Pi Delta Psi Fraternity.

As an alumnus, he serves on the UCF Alumni Association’s Government Relations committee, and served on the UCF Multicultural Academic Support Services alumni panel. As a community member, he served on the board for WMFE’s Community Advisory Board, and is currently on the board for the City of Orlando’s Families, Parks and Recreation, as well as chair of the Florida Water Environment Association’s Integrated Water Resources committee.

Ly advises current engineering students to make the most of their time and resources while at UCF. “Get an internship, go to your professor’s office hours, join an engineering society in your major and talk to your college department advisor.”

And, he speaks from experience. His first internship was at the Florida Department of Transportation, which, he says taught him so much about the importance of professionalism and work ethic that he still uses each day.

“My professors and classmates have all been integral to my career development, from the design coursework to networking in the engineering community,” he says. “UCF helped shape who I am today in almost every possible way.”

Tasty Q&A

Q. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A. Fresh sushi from Japan. There’s got to be something in the rice, fish and seaweed that give the Japanese some of the longest lifespans in the world, right?

Q. Best meal of your life so far?
A. Sitting just outside of the famed Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan — a little sushi shop with some of the freshest sushi I’ve had in my life.

Q. What would you like your last meal to be?
A. It doesn’t matter as long as I’m surrounded by family and friends.

Q. Favorite condiment?
A. Harissa, a hot Chili pepper sauce from North Africa

Q. Favorite comfort food?
A. A hot bowl of shio butter ramen with sliced pork and bamboo shoots from Hanamizuki Japanese restaurant on International Drive in Orlando

Q. Favorite snack?
A. I enjoy fresh popcorn. I hear it’s low in calories.

Q. Favorite celebrity chef, and why?
A. Although he’s not a chef anymore, Anthony Bourdain would head the list, not only for his taste in street food from around the world, but also for his heart and mind for the people and cultures that he visits. I really enjoy his “Parts Unknown” show on CNN, and was lucky to meet him recently when he came to Orlando for a talk. Another celebrity chef I admire would have to be David Chang of New York’s Momofuku restaurant group. I loved his PBS series, “Mind of a Chef.” He’s truly an innovative chef.

Q. Best food festival in Central Florida?
A. Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, for sure. I also love the Taste of the Nation event that brings together many of the local Orlando restaurants to benefit the Coalition for the Homeless and Second Harvest Food Bank.

Q. What was your favorite country and/or food at this year’s Food & Wine Festival?
A. Although not necessarily a country per se, my favorite food marketplace was the Farm Fresh marketplace showcasing local and seasonal ingredients. I particularly enjoyed the pepper-bacon hash with sweet corn, potatoes, hollandaise sauce and pickled jalapeño, and the yard bird, a crispy, crunchy chicken thigh with braised collard greens. I also enjoyed the scallop topped with bacon and creamed spinach from Scotland, and the filet mignon with wild mushrooms from Canada.

Q. If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
A. “Life of Limitless Potential”

Q. Something you learned in the past week?
A. Just got back from Mexico, and discovered that the Mayans built an ancient astronomical observatory at Chichen Itza used to map out the stars, centuries before Galileo on the other side of the world. Also, yu’um bootik means “thank you” in Mayan.

Alumnus Competes in National Halloween TV Special

From left to right: Andy Bauer, '02, Sabrina Soto, Dave Gugel and Michael Moloney (Photo courtesy of Andy Bauer)
From left to right: Andy Bauer, ’02, Sabrina Soto, Dave Gugel and Michael Moloney
(Photo courtesy of Andy Bauer)

Andy Bauer, ’02, and Dave Gugel, are participating in ABC’s “The Great Halloween Fright Fight,” in which six families compete to make the greatest haunted Halloween displays. Celebrity designers Michael Moloney (of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”) and Sabrina Soto (of HGTV’s “The High/Low Project”) are the judges. The winners get bragging rights and a $50,000 prize.

Andy and Dave’s displays, “Terror at Tee Lake,” are described by ABC as a lakeside cabin resort with a handmade drive-thru haunt spanning their four-acre property, with a variety of unique displays from a “Day of the Dead” area to a carnival zone with clowns. Using Andy’s expert graphic design skills and Dave’s construction know-how, the pair created a world of eerie neon characters, waiting for you behind every bend.

This is the couple’s fifth year creating haunted displays in Michigan, where they live, but their 10th year including their time in Florida.

“The Great Halloween Fright Fight” airs from 8-9 p.m. Oct. 28 on ABC.

More Info

Check out Andy and Dave’s Tee Lake Resort website for more Halloween fun!

The Gregg Hale Project

Film alumnus continues to follow his passion for the big (and small) screen

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Gregg Hale, ’95 | Partner, Haxan Films

By Angie Lewis, ’03

If you were a teenager in 1999, chances are you sat in a dark theater with your friends, peeking at the screen through your hands, while watching the “found footage” of three student documentary filmmakers who disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Md.

“The Blair Witch Project,” by Haxan Films, celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, after grossing more than $248 million worldwide and receiving critical acclaim, which included winning the Award of the Youth for Foreign Film at the Cannes Film Festival and the Golden Orange Award at the Florida Film Critics Circle Awards.

The highly successful indie horror film was the creation of five UCF alumni: Michael Monello, ’92; Robin Cowie, ’93; Daniel Myrick, ’93; Eduardo Sanchez, ’94; and Gregg Hale, ’95.

We caught up with Hale, one of the movie’s producers, in Portland, Ore., where he currently lives with his wife, Adrian (Steinbach), ’00, and their two kids, Amelia, 8, and Decker, 6.

Hale and Sanchez still own Haxan Films and continue to make indie movies, as well as television shows, games and comic books, and also do some creative consulting. Most recently, the pair produced a show for ABC called “The Quest,” a fantasy-based reality competition, which began airing at the end of July and wrapped up in September. In addition, their Bigfoot horror film, “Exist,” comes out Oct. 24.

“It’s a cycle of developing and then producing,” Hale explains. “When we do the indie thing, we have to sell them. So, we’re trying to transition more into television, which is steadier. There’s more money in it now than there is in indie films, and we don’t have that cycle of taking a long time to create something, then make something, then sell something. We can get in and do it and not worry about the sales aspect.”

Hale and fellow “Blair Witch” producer and UCF alumnus, Monello, are also the the founders of Campfire, a marketing agency that shapes perceptions and enhances brand preference through social storytelling, digital content and physical experiences — just like the promotional campaign they did for “Blair Witch,” which had many people believing the movie was real. Hale remains with the company as an advisor, while Monello serves as its full-time chief creative officer.

“I like the work that we did for Campfire,” Hale says. “We did a lot of cool stuff, like the first season of ‘True Blood’ and the first season of ‘Game of Thrones,’ and we did some cool movies and a lot of video games. It’s good work, but I don’t get passionate about that. I’ve still managed to stay somewhat passionate about TV and film. So, I just opted to do the thing that gets me going.”

In 2013, Hale and Sanchez directed a point-of-view zombie segment called “A Ride in the Park” for the horror sequel “V/H/S 2.”

“Being a filmmaker is the only thing I ever really wanted to do,” Hale says. “I’ve known since I was 11 that that’s what I wanted to do, when I saw ‘Star Wars’ (A New Hope). I was young enough to be totally amazed by the movie in that kid way, but old enough to realize somebody made it — there was a camera, and people behind a camera, and somebody decided what the set was going to look like and what Darth Vader looked like. When Darth Vader walks through the door at the very beginning of the movie, it blew my mind — the visuals, the music, everything. That’s the moment I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker.”

As a child, Hale used a Super 8 camera to make short films, stop-motion animation and zombie movies. And, in true young, male filmmaker fashion, he also blew up toy soldiers with fireworks and filmed it.

Before Hale was in the spotlight for “Blair Witch,” he worked as a set dresser for Disney’s “The All New Mickey Mouse Club” and on the swing gang in the art department for the HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon,” both of which were produced in Orlando.

Hale grew up in Kentucky and was on his way to California to pursue his film education at UCLA or USC (“because those are the big, famous film schools”), when he got a call from a childhood friend who was working on “Superboy” in Orlando. That was right before Universal Studios Orlando opened and right after Steven Spielberg told the world via “The Today Show” that Central Florida would be Hollywood East. So, Hale, like all of the other film students who weren’t already working in L.A., decided to head south.

Before starting college, Hale served in the U.S. Army to earn money for school. He’d already been working in the industry when he started taking film classes at Valencia College, where he learned the technical skills necessary for filmmaking. When he got to UCF, he says he enjoyed the opportunity to make his own films in a structured environment, with access to resources and instructors.

His advice to current UCF film students? “There’s talent and intelligence and all of the other attributes that are part of being a successful filmmaker, but you need perseverance,” he says. “It’s a hard business. If you allow yourself to get discouraged, you’re not going to make it as a filmmaker. There have been a lot of ups and downs for me and Ed. Since ‘Blair Witch,’ we haven’t had that level of success we started out with, and that can be a downer at times. Things don’t always go the way you want them to go, but you have to stick with it. It’s a blessing and a curse.”

Let’s Get Reel Q&A

Q. Favorite UCF memory?
A. Going to class. I enjoy learning. The classes I enjoyed the most were film theory and film history. They were non-production classes, where you’re just learning for learning’s sake.

Q. If money was no object and you could make any movie, what story would you choose to depict?
A. We have a couple of properties that we’ve been developing that are “pie in the sky.” So, I’d like to make a big fantasy thing that my kids could go see. The TV show that was just on ABC [“The Quest”], my kids could watch, which I was super psyched about. It’s the first thing I’ve done that my kids could actually see.

Q. Most memorable work experience so far?
A. I feel super lucky to be doing what I’m doing, and to be able to have done it as long as I’ve done it. When “Blair Witch” got into Cannes, we all went, and got to go to some big parties — these crazy, over-the-top parties. And, we’re standing on this beach with drinks, dressed in jeans and T-shirts, and there were guys with Rottweilers on chains guarding the edges of the party. We’re just standing there like, “What in the hell are we doing here?” That was all such a whirlwind.

Q. Last movie you watched?
A. “Kelly & Cal”

Q. All-time favorite movie?
A. “Fellowship of the Ring”

Q. If someone made a movie about you, what would the title be?
A. “One Lucky Dude”

Q. What TV show are you embarrassed to admit watching?
A. “Naked and Afraid”

Q. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
A. Staying in the film business when I wanted to get out of it

Q. What subject do you wish you’d paid more attention to in school?
A. Typing

Q. Favorite place to visit?
A. It’s a tie between Japan and New Zealand. New Zealand is one of the most spectacular visual places I’ve ever been with maybe the nicest people on the planet. And, Japan is just a very foreign culture that I’m really drawn to. I really like the way the Japanese people do everything.

Q. Something you learned in the past week?
A. Salmon stay at sea three to four years before returning to spawn. I just went and watched the salmon run yesterday.

Q. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A. Historian