Alumni spotlight: CBS Films executive Grey Munford ’04 lauded by Hollywood Reporter
In November, Grey Munford ’04, vice president of communications at CBS Films, made Hollywood Reporter’s 21st annual list of the industry’s top executives, 35 and under. High praise, indeed, but perhaps not surprising for one whose love of film marketing developed at a very tender age.
“My parents raised us on movies,” Munford says, “but we all had very different tastes so it became standard practice to watch the trailers or cite reviews as part of the debate over which film the family would watch on any given night. By the time I was junior in high school and The Phantom Menace rolled around, it was possible to follow an entire marketing campaign online. I gravitated toward the stories-within-a-story aspect with which Hollywood attempts to sell people on a movie.”
While a student at Centre, he was busy with other things. In addition to his studies as an English major, he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and on the staff of The Cento. But that early passion never faded.
“A few days after my graduation I simply drove out to Los Angeles,” he says. “I had neither a place to live nor a job lined up but did have a few contacts that I had made through an internship. Fortunately, an entry level publicity and promotions agency job opened up three days after I arrived, so I spent that first summer working on films like The Notebook, Napoleon Dynamite and Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.”
His arrival in L.A. came at a time when a new marketing platform was in its infancy in the industry.
“The year 2004 was a big year for social media and digital press outlets gaining traction when it came to film and television marketing, so I immediately decided to focus on that front. Three months of that work allowed me to get a job as an assistant in national publicity at Columbia Pictures, where I had a pair of amazing bosses who spent two years teaching me how the industry functions.
“During that time our team worked on a dozen titles, including a nice breakout hit with The Illusionist. I was then able to jump to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) to oversee their communications group during a chaotic but colorful two-year period that saw the release of Valkyrie and Hot Tub Time Machine. In the second half of 2010, I moved into my current capacity at CBS Films where I oversee corporate and digital publicity. We’ve had a few sleeper hits like The Kings of Summer, Seven Psychopaths and Pride, a few big hits like The Woman in Black and Last Vegas, and even scored a few Academy Award nominations after winning our first Grand Prix at the Cannes International Film Festival for the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis.”
And, while this is clearly a man whose creativity was sparked by film, Munford’s time at Centre stoked the flame.
“Centre helped fuel my passion for film marketing because, as an English major, I was taught to understand and argue about narrative,” Munford continues. “Also, as almost every aspect of a film’s campaign is a group effort, being a member of the Greek system where I learned how to compromise was enormously beneficial.
“Helen Emmitt (professor of English), Mark Lucas (Alfred P. and Katherine B. Jobson Professor of English) and Lisa Williams (Paul L. Cantrell Associate Professor of English) were also great influences. I loved the books, poetry and class discussions, but possessed a passable (at best) grasp on grammar. All three professors were incredibly compassionate, and it’s safe to assume that, without the motivating fear of disappointing them on the next paper, I would’ve gained significantly less from my college experience.”
by Cindy Long
Above photo: Grey Munford ’04 (photo by Tommy Garcia)