How did alumnus Ryan West (’18) go from editing student films in high school to working on The Super Mario Brothers, a film that grossed over a billion dollars worldwide? As a film major in the Snyder School of Cinema and Media Arts, West quickly learned the importance of networking.

“Throughout my time as a student I made sure to attend every guest speaking session so I could network and learn from them,” West said. “Of course, I was nervous approaching them at first, but I knew I had to put that aside in order to grow.”

After earning a B.A. in Cinema and Media Arts, West landed a job as a video editor at Etekcity, an Anaheim-based retailer that specializes in smart home technology. Many of the product commercials and ads he edited were featured on Amazon.

Then the pandemic hit, and West was laid off in 2022 due to budget cuts.

“I didn’t know what to do, but I knew that I wanted to work in the film industry,” he said.

He soon learned that in order to work in Hollywood, it was necessary to join the Editor’s Guild (IATSE Local 700). The union is very competitive and requires hours of on-the-job training. To his delight, he found out that his four years of experience at Etekcity qualified him to join. He submitted his application, and several weeks later, was accepted into the union.

Soon after that, a Biola contact connected him to the editor of an upcoming computer-animated movie based on Nintendo’s Mario video game franchise. West sent the editor his resumé and his reel, and the editor responded that if any positions came up he would be in touch.

“A week later, I woke up to an email from Illumination Entertainment asking if I could come in for an interview,” West said.

The day after the interview, they offered him a job as a video editor. At Illumination, West jumps around from project to project, editing a variety of content including awards shows, short films and features, including the upcoming film, Migration.

“Aside from learning the importance of networking and approaching the industry as a business, the most valuable experience that I learned was to always seek God in all that I do,” West said. “It’s very easy to be distracted and put earthly things (like careers) above him in our day-to-day lives, so one would have to take accountability in avoiding that in order to focus on their relationship with him.”

Ryan remains actively involved with his church. One day, during a Bible study, he bumped into a man who turned out to be the son of the editor of The Super Mario Brothers. Now they’re close friends.

“It’s a small world!” West said.

Biola’s Snyder School of Cinema and Media Arts was recently named a top film school by Variety Magazine and a best local film school by Hollywood Reporter.

Learn more about Biola’s B.A. in Cinema and Media Arts.

Written by Nate Bell, Snyder School of Cinema and Media Arts. For more information, contact Media Relations at