Entering his freshman year at Princeton, Ben Fast ’06 had his sights set on computer science, or maybe economics. But his outlook changed early that fall when he saw a show by Quipfire!, the student improv comedy group.
“It kind of turned everything upside down,” Fast says. “I immediately wanted to do what they were doing.”
Fast dove into comedy and theater, joining Quipfire!, the Triangle Club, and Theatre Intime. After college, he went west to USC, where he studied screenwriting in the film school. He pursued writing jobs in film and television — an often-humbling path, he says — before joining the Weinstein Company as a creative executive.
In December, Fast was named executive vice president, development, at Indigenous Media, a studio co-founded by Jon Avnet, Rodrigo Garcia, and Jake Avnet.
Fast deals with traditional platforms as well as digital and emerging media in his new job. “The fundamentals are still the same,” he says. “It’s identifying talent early, trying to find undervalued talent, finding great ideas, and communicating those ideas effectively.”
Working in Hollywood rewards doggedness, he adds: “It really takes someone who is adamant and impetuous to get something made.”
Fast sees some parallels between the projects in his current career and the student shows that were so absorbing during his time at Princeton. The stakes may be higher, but the ingredients for success are similar. “You still want to have the sense of fun and camaraderie, if you can,” he says. “People who love what they’re doing are going to work much harder on it.”