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College TV award leads to mentorship

Yaitanes takes Higgins under his wing

Winners of College Television Awards always hope that the kudo will be their ticket to a career in showbiz. That wish came true — and then some — for tyro helmer Julian Higgins.

At the ceremony last June, “House” producer-director Greg Yaitanes presented Higgins with the top directing award for “Thief,” loosely based on the life of Saddam Hussein.

After seeing Higgins’ short, Yaitanes was inspired to take the young director under his wing for what Higgins calls “film school 2.0.” Within months, Higgins had landed an assignment to direct an episode of “House” — the kind of break that takes years to happen for many aspiring directors.

Higgins’ apprenticeship with Yaitanes started with shadowing him on the set of the Fox drama, which is in its eighth and final season.

The formal announcement of “House” wrapping its run on Fox came just after the completion of Higgins’ episode, “Blowing the Whistle,” which lensed in January and airs April 2.

“I feel even more privileged now,” Higgins said.

As a student at Emerson College and the AFI, Higgins focused on feature filmmaking and never considered TV as a career path, but he now sees the different media as equally valid options. And Yaitanes continues to be a mentor to him.

“I text him with questions with all of the time,” Higgins said.

Higgins’ success story raises the bar for this year’s College Television Award winners, and presenters.

The ceremony, administered by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation, is set for Saturday at Renaissance Hollywood hotel.

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