Syracuse University junior Jeremy Todd Shinder ’24 was a teen actor when he got some sage advice from industry veterans. It happened on the set of the Amazon series Red Oaks, where, between shots, he chatted up costars Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing), Josh Meyers (That ’70s Show) and Richard Kind (Curb Your Enthusiasm).
At one point, Shinder mentioned that he was thinking of going to a musical theater conservatory, to which Kind turned to him and responded, “Why would you do that?”
The Drama Desk Award winner wasn’t criticizing college; on the contrary, he and his colleagues heartily endorsed it. But Kind impressed upon Shinder the importance of stepping outside his comfort zone, trying something new.
I have so many ideas, but I don’t want to be pigeonholed. Syracuse has taught me the importance of risk-taking, which, it turns out, is something I like to do.—Jeremy Shinder ’24
“That’s when the gears started turning,” admits Shinder, a film major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. A subsequent collaboration with Alec Baldwin (30 Rock and Drunk Parents), who took a shine to Shinder’s comedic timing and nuance, brought Kind’s words into focus. “Alec and I had a great chemistry on camera,” recalls Shinder, also a member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program who minors in religion and drama. “Earning the respect of actors like him, Richard Kind and The Wonder Years’ Dan Lauria [with whom Shinder has performed on Broadway] has given me a sense of agency, that I can do almost anything.”
Today, Shinder is a member of the top-flight Department of Film and Media Arts. He’s also a budding entrepreneur with his own production company, Jere Bear Films.
Fresh from an internship at the Syracuse-area film studio American High and a month in Italy through Syracuse Abroad, Shinder is eager to keep honing his filmmaking skills. “I have so many ideas, but I don’t want to be pigeonholed,” admits the North Jersey native, who has been acting professionally since the age of 5. “Syracuse has taught me the importance of risk-taking, which, it turns out, is something I like to do.”
We recently caught up with Shinder to discuss Syracuse’s impact on his academic and professional development.
What led you to Syracuse University?
I was a senior in high school when I attended Summer College, which sealed the deal for me. I got to take classes in the Shaffer Art Building and interact with filmmakers like Professor Mišo Suchý. I also met several teaching assistants whom I’m still in touch with. When I found out that Syracuse has a nationally ranked film school, I immediately applied.
How is Syracuse preparing you to achieve your career goals?
I like exhibiting other people’s work, especially those who are underrepresented in the industry. Through my company, Jere Bear Films, I have the infrastructure to help others, and I want to make a career out of doing it.
A turning point was a course in Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises, which I took as a sophomore through the Whitman School of Management. The course changed my whole approach to business and reaffirmed my desire to produce films. It also challenged me to rethink how to succeed in what is a large, competitive industry.
Since May, I’ve been working with Linda Dickerson Hartsock, founder and executive of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University Libraries. She’s been helping me launch Jere Bear Films as an LLC and has been nothing but kind, supportive and gracious.
A turning point was a course in Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises, which I took as a sophomore through the Whitman School of Management. The course changed my whole approach to business and reaffirmed my desire to produce films. It also challenged me to rethink how to succeed in what is a large, competitive industry.—Jeremy Shinder ’24
What did you get out of your Syracuse Abroad program?
I took Italian Film Studies and Filmmaking in Bologna, a four-week summer intensive devoted to different aspects of film—history, theory, planning, production. The program was an absolute game-changer. I fell in love with filmmaking all over again. Something inside me clicked.
While I was there, I attended Il Cinema Ritrovato, a nine-day festival devoted to international film restoration and conservation. The festival gave me a renewed appreciation for Italian Neorealist filmmakers like Roberto Rossellini, Federico Fellini and Pier Paolo Pasolini, whose ideas I try to emulate in my work. I also discovered the importance of visual language in film, like painting, semiotics [the study of signs and symbols] and iconography [the use of visual images and symbols in a work of art].
Visiting museums, such as The Uffizi and Accademia Gallery in Florence, reinforced the link between film and art. For example, Italian Neorealists are known for showing Baroque art in their films.
Who at Syracuse has influenced you?
My professor, Alex Méndez Giner, who teaches film in VPA. I’ve had classes with him before, but his Syracuse Abroad program showed me how dedicated he is to his students and his craft. I asked him a lot of questions, which he always answered with a smile. He didn’t shy away from my curiosity.
I also study film with his wife, Sandy Siquier. Between the two of them, I’ve taken courses in screenwriting, preproduction planning, production and cinematography. To say they have transformed me as a storyteller is an understatement. From my perspective, they’re VPA’s one-two-punch.
From a business perspective, it makes sense to keep moving, to stay informed. That’s why I’m always exploring different cultures and traditions as well as trying new things.—Jeremy Shinder ’24
You’re involved with many organizations and activities on and off campus. Why?
From a business perspective, it makes sense to keep moving, to stay informed. That’s why I’m always exploring different cultures and traditions as well as trying new things. It’s what you do at a top-tier research institution. Whether I’m learning about different faiths—something I do as a religion minor—or exhibiting films at festivals around the world, I have a responsibility to be well-rounded. I don’t take anyone or anything for granted.
What’s one of your favorite Syracuse memories?
I play the snare drum in marching band. Last fall, we did a Halloween halftime show featuring Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The [JMA Wireless] Dome was pitch black, but when we started playing, the whole place exploded with music and orange lights. Because it was a Saturday night game, my family was there. Beating Boston College was the cherry on top. The experience reminded me of what it means to “Be Orange.”