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A dose of reality

Autumn deVitry

As a kid, Autumn deVitry, AS’01, dreamed of becoming a leg­endary news reporter like Edward R. Murrow, who became known as the “voice of America” for his radio broad­casts during World War II.

But instead of forging a career in hard news, the 34-​​year-​​old devel­oped a knack for pro­ducing reality TV pro­grams, such as NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and FOX’s “Mas­terChef” and “The X-​​Factor,” whose season-​​one finale in December drew some 12.4 mil­lion viewers.

She clas­si­fied reality TV as “guerilla film­making,” owing to its rou­tinely small bud­gets and short staffs. “It’s stressful, but it’s also incred­ibly fun and cre­ative,” deVitry told more than 75 stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff in the McLeod Suites on Tuesday in a lec­ture describing her climb to the top of the reality TV ladder. “I love it.”

The former jour­nalism stu­dent cred­ited pro­fes­sors Alan Schroeder and Nick Daniloff for shaping her career path. At North­eastern, Daniloff helped deVitry find a co-​​op with a small pro­duc­tion com­pany in Mon­treal. Schroeder oversaw deVitry’s doc­u­men­tary film project on three former North­eastern stu­dents living in Italy.

She encour­aged stu­dents to take advan­tage of Northeastern’s inter­na­tional experiential-​​learning oppor­tu­ni­ties. As deVitry put it, “I learn the most when I’m trav­eling. Just go.”

Her short-​​lived stint as an asso­ciate pro­ducer for NBC-​​affiliate KOB-​​TV in Albu­querque, N.M., under­scored her desire to break out of the local news industry, which, she said, focuses its cov­erage on “death, destruc­tion and despair on a daily basis.”

In fact, the reality TV pro­ducer would rather not turn on the tube at all. “I watch movies,” she quipped.

Small wonder, then, that deVitry recently fin­ished writing the screen­play for her first fea­ture film enti­tled “Altered Reality,” a 90-​​minute cross-​​genre dramedy por­traying the “reality behind reality TV.” Shooting begins in February.

The auteur-​​in-​​training closed her 45-​​minute lec­ture by giving honest advice to aspiring pro­ducers and film­makers. “If you’re scared to death to take a job, then you have to take it,” she said. “If you’re afraid of it, then you will chal­lenge your­self and grow and learn.”