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Alum Ron Saunders Jr. Takes Storytelling to New Level with His L.A. Video Production Company, 'Cinema-Styles'



Ron Saunders Jr. is owner of "Cinema-Styles," an independent film company based in L.A. He "cut his teeth" at MCCC and then headed to the West Coast.

West Windsor, N.J. – A few weeks after graduating from Mercer County Community College (MCCC), Ronald Saunders Jr. ’14 (A.A.S., Radio/Television) got into his car and headed to Los Angeles. His goal: to become an independent filmmaker.

That might sound like a grand ambition to some, but Saunders had been preparing for this move for years. And he credits MCCC with not only laying the academic foundation for the skills he relies on today in his business, but for the extracurricular opportunities he had – first at the student radio station, WMMC, and then in the studio of MCTV, the college’s cable television channel.

"At Mercer, I got the opportunity to learn by actually doing,” he said.

These days, Saunders is the owner of Cinema-Styles, a full-service video production company that he started in 2013 while still studying at Mercer and is now based in Los Angeles.

“I started out shooting wedding videos and making them into movies with a score and a story,” he explains. In addition to private events, he also contracts his services for commercials, films and documentaries as a director, cinematographer and editor.

Saunders clearly relishes the freedom of having his own company. “I needed to grow. There was no guarantee, but I took the risk. I have been able to control my own brand. I haven’t stopped," he said.

Originally from New York, Saunders enlisted in the Air Force in 1998 at the age of 18. He was stationed at McGuire Air Force Base in Burlington County, New Jersey, until 2004. His service as a staff sergeant for security forces included four tours of duty.

After leaving the military, Ronald went to work as a store manager for Blockbuster. “When it closed, I decided it was time to go to school,” he said.

Saunders did not have to look far to find the right fit for higher education. “Mercer was local, and it had the radio and broadcast programs I was interested in,” he observes. He adds that he greatly benefited from the GI Bill and the support he received through MCCC’s Veterans Services office.

Always passionate about music, Saunders’ initial goal was to pursue his associate degree in Radio. “When I was studying radio with Professor Mitch Canter, it was challenging, but I loved his regiment. Coming from the military, I like to be taught how to do things the right way. I worked very hard. I really appreciated his style of teaching,” he said.

Soon Ron was spending a lot of extra time on campus. “I would stay after class and volunteer at the college radio station,” he recalled. Starting out as a DJ and promoter for Viking 89 (89.1 FM), he eventually became the station’s general manager, an experience he considers pivotal. “As head of the radio station, I was in a leadership role and we were very active in keeping the station a viable place for students to grow and for listeners to enjoy our programming,” he said.

Saunders and his fellow DJs connected with local musicians. “I knew there was a huge art district in Trenton. We were very involved on campus and in the community,” he said.

Ron relished the DJ role so much that he started his first business, The Strong Arm DJ Company, while he was at Mercer, and was hired as a disc jockey for events at MCCC and other venues. “I’ve always been an entrepreneur. When I was at Mercer I was already developing my own company and making money,” he said.

After Saunders took his first television production class, he soon added a second major. “I was fascinated by the world of film. I cut my teeth at MCTV [the MCCC cable TV station], where I began to direct, produce, film and edit,” he said.

According to Saunders, Television Professor Barry Levy played a huge role in his career trajectory. "Professor Levy changed my life. He breathes inspiration into his students. He made us want to try our best. He introduced us into an art form that has so many current relevancies. He taught us how to tell a story visually."

In his Advanced Film Production (CMN 242) class during his final semester, Saunders shot and edited a documentary-style film starring fellow TV student Adrian Colón. Entitled “The Joke’s on You,” the documentary chronicles Adrian’s journey as a stand-up comic.

Saunders found himself drawn to the documentary genre. “When starting a documentary, you don’t know what you’re going to get. Adrian allowed me into his life. In the film he came out to his mom and to the world. I found that storytelling was what I wanted to do,” he said.

The film was selected for the New Jersey International Film Festival at Rutgers University and won the Audience Choice Award. “It was a dream come true,” Saunders recalled, adding that he and Colón have remained friends and hope to work together again someday.

Ronald’s immersion in the radio and television production fields was reflected in his grades. “I graduated with high honors,” he said. “It wasn’t difficult because I was highly motivated. I was in my 30s. I didn’t feel like I had the same amount of time as my younger classmates.”

The work ethic that Saunders displayed at MCCC continues to serve him well. “I am a disciplined person. I always finish what I start and excellence is the only option for me,” he said.

The storytelling skills Saunders learned at Mercer are at the heart of Cinema-Styles, starting with “boutique wedding cinema,” which he calls the evolution of the wedding video. “We tell the story of the most important day in a couple’s life,” he said, adding that these are masterfully-shot romantic documentaries.

Saunders also works on music, film, TV and new media projects, and includes celebrity actors, musicians and athletes on his client list. “Whether I'm capturing colorful and creative images for a music video or producing top tier content for an online training video, my responsibility is to deliver entertaining visuals at the highest level,” he said. “I love my job. I hope to live out the rest of my days doing so.”

While Saunders gives MCCC top grades for the education he received, he says that, ultimately, “it’s about the student and the amount of work you are willing to put in. You have to want to better yourself. There are great faculty and staff at Mercer, but students need to have a thirst for knowledge.”

He encourages current Television students to get hands-on experience and to network as much as possible “Establish a network and remain connected to your professors,” he advises. “Figure out creative avenues to apply what you have learned.”

Learn more about Ron Saunders Jr. and his company at  and

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