Jon Niccum 


Film Studies BGS, 1989

Kansas City Star - entertainment writer
Author at Sourcebooks (“The Worst Gig,” released Oct. 1, 2013)
Lecturer at KU - American Film Criticism 621

What is your fondest memory from your time at KU?
I fumbled around with a few other majors -- classical guitar, psychology, criminology -- before I settled on film. My enjoyment of college completely shifted for the better once I hit that path. My fondest memories include making short movies with my friends who were in the film department. I also played in a lot of working bands during that stretch, right when the music scene in Lawrence was starting to become nationally renowned. And I met my future wife waiting in line for lunch at the Student Union. That turned out pretty well.

How did KU help prepare you for your career?
Aside from the obvious ways such as introducing me to films I might not have come across, it really helped hone my writing. Being forced to write longer pieces on a deadline is the definition of what I do now.

What advice can you give to current Jayhawks?
Set a clear career goal early on. When I was 20, I made a deal with myself that I would never take another job unless it had a connection to music or film. I've been able to keep that streak going for nearly 30 years.

What kind of training do you think FMS should include in its curriculum to help prepare students post-graduation?
More hands-on experience should be stressed -- and there's already so much more of that now at KU than when I was a student, which was really just focused on film criticism. I think it's difficult to fully understand movies without having made a few yourself.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Almost everyone I've ever met who graduated from KU -- no matter where they've gone or what success they've enjoyed since -- always considers their time spent in Lawrence as the best years of their lives.

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