Brad Polak discovered what he wanted to pursue for his career while attending Lowell High School, and he took his first class in Film Production with Middlesex Community College Professor Jennifer Bauer.
At first, he thought he was below average in the class, but Bauer, now the Communications Department chair, saw his potential.
With some prompting from his father — and with the prospect of taking more courses with Bauer — Polak came to Middlesex to get an Associate Degree in Communications in 2016.
“Brad and I made the move to MCC at the same time, providing me with the rare opportunity to work with a student for five years,” Bauer said. “Bringing the same level of enthusiasm and dedication to his college studies as he did to his high-school courses, Brad quickly stood out among the Communication majors at MCC.”
After two years at MCC, Polak transferred to Fitchburg State University, where he continued to study TV and Film Production and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in 2018.
“It was a seamless transfer to Fitchburg,” Polak said. “I was able to pick up from where I left off. With my time at Middlesex, I was able to go full-time film when I got to Fitchburg. I did all my math and my history while I was at MCC, and I’m glad I did because I liked them a lot.”
Polak credits MCC for giving him the foundation he needed to succeed.
“I could not have made a better decision,” he said. “Middlesex was an easy choice. I really enjoyed my time there and all of my teachers, not only my film classes. A lot of them had a really big impact on me. They made it a really good experience.”
In addition to his studies, Polak completed two internships while at Middlesex, including working at the Merrimack Valley Film Festival. He interned in the Media Department at Lowell High, where he got technical experience working on access TV, graduations and city meetings.
Bauer believes it is Polack’s work ethic and amiable personality that helped him succeed in his internships and also led to him receiving the Communications Department’s Outstanding Student Award when he graduated.
Polak works full time in production on films, TV shows and commercials across Massachusetts. His first role on set was in the locations department. Although it wasn’t what he had expected when he first planned to work in productions, he came to love the work and opportunities he gets.
In this role, he helps find and plan locations where productions will take place, including managing a lot of details. Since the locations department has to both open and close sets, Polak often works for 12 to 16 hours at a time.
Middlesex prepared him for the grind.
“A lot of my classes at Middlesex taught me ethic and to keep working,” he said. “That transfers over to everywhere you go. Not even just my communications classes, but a lot of my harder professors showed me what it’s like on the film set. There’s a lot of chaos, but if you’re prepared and you do your job, it runs smoothly.”
Polak emphasizes that on sets, people see the hard work being put in, and that makes people want to hire you again and again, and, ultimately, that’s how you move up.
MCC’s Communications Department prepares students with the technical skills and theoretical and ethical knowledge for students to continue on into the production industry, and to be successful amid the chaos, according to Bauer.
“Employers want someone who can communicate clearly, analyze information, work as a team and think creatively,” she said. “Communications majors learn all these things, and more. As part of your major, you build a portfolio of work, whether it be press clippings, media productions or social-media posts.”
Because he flourished at MCC, Polak enjoys being a connection between alumni and current students in the Communications Department.
“Jen has called me back a bunch to talk to people in the department,” he said. “I love to see people who are kind of like me and can’t wait to get on set.”
Now that he has made it on set, Polak plans to take advantage of every opportunity he gets, while using the skills and knowledge he learned at Middlesex.
“I hope to move up in my department as much as I can within my next couple of shows and eventually become a locations manager,” he said. “A lot of locations managers become producers because it’s a very similar job. I’d like to just see where my department takes me.”
Some of Polak’s production credits include the recently released “Defending Jacob” on Apple TV, “The Society” and “The Sleepover” on Netflix, and a to-be-determined film on DisneyPlus.
MCC’s Communications Department offers courses in Film and TV Production, Radio Broadcasting, Print & Digital Journalism, Public Relations, Advertising & Marketing, Corporate Communications and Social Media. Communications majors have a wide range of potential job offerings, including in business, government, politics, law, health care, human resources and education, in addition to entertainment.
For more information and to register for classes, visit www.middlesex.mass.edu/registration or call 1-800-818-3434.