Head of Advertising Production
Originally published in the CSU Magazine. Story by Tony Phifer
Jeff Werner (’92) had been through “Oscar anxiety” many times before, only to be disappointed. So, when the 2017 Academy Awards began, he was realistic about the chance his company, MPC, had of winning the Oscar for Best Visual Effects for its work on The Jungle Book.
“It’s such a great film, and we knew we had some pretty incredible work, but you just never know,” said Werner, a 1992 CSU graduate in communication studies.
When the time came for the announcement, Werner – watching with his wife and two children in their Westlake Village, Calif., home – felt a sense of elation when MPC’s name was called, knowing that his 25-year journey in Hollywood was finally being rewarded.
“Even though my name isn’t on the Oscar, we consider it a company victory,” Werner said. “Everyone in the company is celebrating the achievement. I couldn’t wait to get my picture with the Oscar.”
Werner could be the poster child for CSU’s College of Liberal Arts, which encourages students to “Find Your Passion” on their journey toward graduation and beyond.
Now 47, Werner came to CSU in 1988 to study engineering because, well, his dad was an engineer, and that just seemed like the right path to choose. But it wasn’t. After giving engineering and business a shot, he landed in the Department of Communication Studies, looking for answers.
That’s when he met Ann Gill.
Gill, who retired in 2016 after spending 30-plus years at CSU, was the department head for communications at the time, before becoming dean of the college. She had mentored hundreds of students over the years, and Werner said Gill was responsible for helping him find his way.
“She helped me find where I needed to be,” he said. “She’s a great counselor and mentor – truly amazing at what she did. I was just another kid in college when she reached out and helped me find my way.”
Werner had long been fascinated by the entertainment industry, so shortly after graduation he headed for Hollywood. A CSU alumnus working at a TV studio offered him a job, and he had a foot in the door.
“It was a pretty amazing break for me,” he said.
Werner’s journey included some potholes and detours. He was a waiter for a few months before accidentally spilling a tray of wine down Henry Mancini’s back, and he even made a few commercials and had a role in a small film. That’s when he was offered a job at Asylum Visual Effects, at the dawn of the digital age, and he fell in love with postproduction work.
Asylum did work on two Oscar-nominated films – Master and Commander and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – before the company folded in 2011.
Werner spent five years with Method Studios doing work on several Marvel films – Iron Man and Captain America among them – before joining MPC as head of advertising production. A little over a year later, he was holding the Oscar.
“I’m so thankful that I had someone like Ann Gill in my life,” he said. “Really, I don’t know where I would be without her and CSU.”