Skip to Main Content
Chico State

Three Imaginative Media Arts Alumni Making Exciting Moves

Karsten Kaufmann poses for a photo in front of his home workstation.

You might recognize Karsten Kaufmann’s epic dance moves from a video he and fellow media arts majors Sophie McGuirk and Michael Connell created—just for the fun of it—on one random night in the winter of 2015.

It was a true group effort. Connell is behind the camera and McGuirk provides the context in a scene in which she answers a cell phone call. (She picks it up when it rings. That’s how you know the video is now nearly a decade old.) The video became a finals week sensation on campus and has been viewed more than 63,000 times.

While earning their media arts degrees, the trio worked on many projects together.

It was their shared passion for creative arts that bonded them.

“We really leaned into the time we had at Chico State,” McGuirk said. “We were lucky to have found each other.”

Following in the footsteps of Kaufmann’s red Adidas, the three have not stopped moving. Kaufmann’s career as a freelance video editor has taken him to Seattle where he worked at before delving deeper into freelance work, which includes a stint as an assistant editor at VICE Media.

“There was a big board up in Tehama (Hall) that showed where alumni ended up working when I was a student and I saw VICE was on there and I thought that was so cool,” Kaufmann recalls.

McGuirk is in her third year as a producer of entertainment marketing at Apple TV+ in Los Angeles. She’s been involved with the trailers and other creative marketing projects for several Apple TV shows such as The Problem With Jon Stewart, The Morning Show, and Bad Sisters. Most recently McGuirk led the audio-visual efforts for Jane, which debuts April 14.

Sophie McGuirk lays in front of a fake hedge shaped into the word "Luck" during the premiere activation event for the film at Disneyland,
Sophie McGuirk lays in front of a hedge shaped into the word “Luck” during the premiere activation event for the film.

Connell works for Cumulus Media producing video and social media content for KNBR 680 AM and 104.5 FM in San Francisco, one of the nation’s largest sports radio stations. He covers the Warriors, 49ers, and Giants, among other teams and his videos are featured on KNBR’s Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook feeds.

A decade later, all three still love talking about their time at Chico State. They were quick to praise their professors—all three singled out Professor Jennifer Meadows—for allowing them to explore the equipment and ideas that helped lay the foundation for their current work.

“We had access to full TV studios, awesome gear, good cameras; pretty much everything we needed to make things,” Connell recalled. “And we had a lot of people encouraging us to pursue the stuff we were interested in, like this guerilla filmmaking thing, without feeling the need to get in our way.”

Their senior project, Grand Passion, is a great example. All three were heavily involved in its impressive production and remain proud of what they created.

Michael Connell stands next to the 2012 World Series Trophy inside the press box at Oracle Park.
Michael Connell stands next to the 2012 World Series Trophy inside the press box at Oracle Park.

Meadows remembers the trio fondly.

“They had this real interest and curiosity,” Meadows said. “They just wanted to make things and tell stories.”

Kaufmann’s position at was his first “real” job after college. They had 13 employees when he was hired as an intern. He quickly moved into a junior editor role, and by 2019 was a story editor where he edited more than 200 videos. Kaufmann went on to work as the lead editor on the pilot series “The Button,” which has millions of views on YouTube.

“The Button” is a rollercoaster ride of a reality show—a social experiment on camera—that might make you feel happy, sad, hopeful, and cringy all in the span of a few minutes.

Some of his recent projects include work for TOMBOGOS during New York Fashion Week 2022, a music video by Chastity Belt, and an assistant editor role for the VICE Media show “Todos Los Tacos.” If you want to see more, make sure to check Kaufmann’s “The Crow Video,” an official NOBUDGE Online Film Festival selection.

All of Kaufmann’s work, whether he’s making it for the fun of it or as part of his freelance work, has a fun and exciting feel. You’re holding your breath while smiling, wondering what might be coming next.

It’s the kind of work all three are doing. There’s a new creative challenge around every corner and they are enjoying the process of tackling each one, just like they did when they were Wildcats.

“They were just doers,” Meadows remembers. “They loved making things and they took advantage of the opportunities they had with our equipment and facilities to push themselves creatively. We were proud of them then and we’re proud to see what they’re doing now.”