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Aug. 27, 2014
Read about two other Northwest alumni who took their talents to Hollywood and turned the experiences they gained as students into careers in the entertainment industry.
Kazadi Katambwa '98 has made a career of helping to market some blockbuster films, and today he is a producer at Buddha Jones trailer company.
Anna Jordan-Douglass '01 has made the most of seizing opportunities during her career and now works at The Jim Henson Company as vice president of digital development and interactive media.
The path of Scott Jones’ career can be traced back to his days as a Northwest Missouri State University student when he spent late nights and early mornings experimenting with film equipment and producing silly short films in the broadcast studios and editing bays of Wells Hall.
He also enlisted a classmate who lived off-campus to record his favorite TV program, a Nickelodeon children’s show called “The Adventures of Pete and Pete,” for him. In some ways, Jones never grew up.
“I’m just taking my interests and translating them to kids,” said Jones, who is employed at Disney Channel as a writer and producer for on-air marketing. He’s the guy scripting promotions for Disney programming along with the short sketches or music videos shown on the network.
At Northwest, Jones was a member of the forensics team and was heavily involved with KNWT and KZLX, the student-led TV and radio stations. He soaked up the lessons and experiences of his broadcasting faculty mentors, appreciating the ways they encouraged creative freedom but held students accountable to produce worthwhile work. As an art minor, Jones also learned drawing skills he applies today in his process of drawing story boards.
That emphasis on hands-on training was what convinced Jones to pursue his interests at Northwest in the first place.
“They put me on the radio,” Jones said, recalling his initial campus tour. “I got to back-announce Nirvana’s ‘All Apologies,’ so I liked that I wasn’t even a student and I had experience on the radio station. Northwest just let me do stuff and you learn so much more by doing stuff versus reading about it. I do that every day.”
After graduating from Northwest in 1999 with a degree in broadcasting, Jones had writing and production stints at Kansas City radio and TV stations. In 2003, he moved to California in search of an opportunity to advance his career.
Jones’ break came in 2004 when some of his promotional work caught the ears of a producer with Kids WB. The producer invited Jones to spend a day providing some sample work and Jones made an impression.
“I called him a week later and said, ‘I really enjoyed the interview. I’d like to come back for a second,’ and they said they were wondering when I was going to start working, so I had a job,” Jones said.
Jones moved in 2006 to Disney Channel where his specialties include devising concepts for the channel’s summer programming campaigns and writing promotions for Disney’s popular “Phineas and Ferb.”
Recently, he created two animated characters – a disembodied arm named Pipe and a floating brain named Grayman – who show up in sketches between Disney shows. He also has added promotional writing for “Gravity Falls” to his work on “Phineas and Ferb.”
His days involve writing scripts and collaborating with a team of staff members that include graphic designers and editors. Often, he’s working on multiple promotional spots simultaneously and the work days usually end with writers and producers meeting to watch and critique their TV spots.
“When we get an assignment, I have to just brainstorm and keep writing things until something clicks,” Jones said. “You write a million bad things down and eventually a good one comes out of it. Then you write up a script, I get the script approved, I send it to an editor down the street. I usually sit in the editing bay with him, I pick out clips and we piece it together.”
Throughout, Jones and his team also are keeping an eye on competing television channels, in addition to broader trends by attending comedy shows at L.A. hot spots. Jones tacks Post-it notes and pictures on a wall in his Burbank, Calif., office that might inspire bits or characters he can write into promotions.
“Like at Northwest, I’m just constantly exposing myself to things I enjoy and pulling those interests into this world,” Jones said.
His advice to Northwest students is simple: Be well-rounded.
“Explore interests on the periphery of your main interests and just see what they do to you, see how they change you,” Jones said. “I always imagined myself being on the radio, but when I got to Northwest I shifted my interests. Every day there’s something new to do.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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