Reitmans speak to senior boys, fathers at annual event


By Sammy Roth

Filmmaker Jason Reitman ’95 told senior boys and their fathers to “find your voice” at the annual Senior Boys’ Event.

Reitman spoke alongside his own father, director and producer Ivan Reitman.

The event, which included lunch and cost $60 per person to attend, took place Saturday, May 8 at the Los Angeles Athletic Club downtown.

The Reitmans were introduced by President Tom Hudnut.

Jason Reitman told his audience that when he graduated from high school, he planned to become a doctor.

But after struggling with pre-med work at Skidmore College, he realized that he might be going down the wrong career path.

He had a budding interest in making movies, however, and decided that the University of Southern California would be the better place to pursue that interest.

He traveled to USC and tried to arrange a meeting with its admissions director, but all he could get was a few minutes with her as she walked to her car.

It turned out that was enough. By the time the conversation ended, Jason had talked his way into USC, he said.

“He put himself in charge of his own destiny,” Ivan said.

Ivan is known for directing and producing the first two “Ghostbusters” movies.

Jason was nominated in the Best Director category at this year’s Academy Awards for his film, “Up in the Air,” which revolved around a man who spends much of his time on airplanes.

The Senior Boys’ Event’s theme was, “Our Seniors Take Flight,” and the centerpiece at each table included miniature airplanes.

Ivan encouraged students to “take advantage of the really close relationship” between fathers and sons.

Jason recalled learning from his dad on a father-son retreat to a Nevada rodeo that Harvard-Westlake held while he was in 8th grade.

“It was a very important moment for my dad and I, two Jews in Nevada on this rodeo trip, when my dad said to me, ‘Do you want to go to Reno?’” he recalled.

The two of them went to Reno and had a great time, which helped Reitman learn to “seize the moment,” he said.

The Reitmans also discussed collaborating for the first time on “Up in the Air,” which Ivan produced.

Ivan said he is used to working with first-time directors, and that it was difficult for him at first to let his son, already an established director, do his job.

“I had to learn to lay off,” he said.

Jason, for his part, had to remind himself that his dad was really a producer, and that he should not just “shrug him off.”

Jason noted that the two biggest influences on his life have been his father and Harvard-Westlake.

“This school will have a greater impact on you than you will ever imagine,” he said. “I really hope that fifteen years from now you can feel what I feel.”