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Business student heading to Hollywood for Oscar research

Going to university provides a wide variety of learning experiences, but how many students get to go to Hollywood during Oscar season for research purposes?

Michael Ruffolo, a fourth-year student in the Odette School of Business, will be jetting out tomorrow with professor Vincent Georgie to spend five days in Tinseltown for the lead-up to this Sunday’s Academy Awards presentation.

“I just want to be able to absorb and get as much as I can, and learn as much as I can for those five days,” says Ruffolo. “I’m really in to film.”

Georgie, a marketing professor, studies the film industry and how it promotes itself. Ruffolo took two of his courses on advertising management and international marketing, and also worked extensively on promotions and logistics for last year’s Windsor International Film Festival. Georgie, who sits on the festival’s board, was impressed enough with his student’s work to offer him an opportunity to go to Hollywood with him.

“He really deserves this,” said Georgie, who will be going for the third time. “Mike worked extremely hard during the film festival this year. He was a huge help.”

The two plan to attend a number of pre-ceremony events held at the academy’s Beverly Hills headquarters, including one on animated feature films that have been nominated, another for documentaries hosted by director Michael Moore, as well as live reading event held by director Jason Reitman at the L.A. County Museum of Art.

“Last year he did Reservoir Dogs with an all-black cast,” said Georgie.

Although they don’t have seats for the actual ceremony itself, Georgie said he and Ruffolo will be on the red carpet prior to the show and will most likely watch it at a viewing party from a green room in the Dolby Theatre where the presentation is held.

Ruffolo said he’s especially interested in studying the marketing synergies between the film industry and the video game industry, and hopes that by attending many industry events he’ll get the chance to interview a number of executives. He plans to write a paper on the subject when he returns.

Georgie, who said he’ll be “banging the drum” for Windsor, the University and the local film festival while he’s there, doubts there are many other students in Canada, if any at all, who will be getting the same experience as Ruffolo.

“There are so few of us who do this kind of work,” he said. “We’ve really carved out a niche for ourselves, and I think that really speaks to what our university is about, and what we’re capable of.”

And for the record, Ruffolo has a few predictions about who will take top honours at the ceremony. He’s betting on Argo for Best Picture, Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln for Best Actor, and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook for Best Actress.

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