Students gain experience on area film set

Junior Karson Holbrook and sophomore Angela Morse are skipping classes for two weeks. They both received jobs working on an independent film in northwest Arkansas.

Filming lasts from Sept. 22 to Oct. 6., with locations in Springdale and Fayetteville.

Both students will receive internship credit for their work, and Steve Snediker, associate professor of cinema, is working with them and their other professors to provide tutoring sessions and excused absences.

While Holbrook interviewed for his intern position, Snediker recommended Morse to the executive producer, Jennica Schwartzman, as a production assistant. Morse and Schwartzman exchanged a few emails, and now Morse handles much of the paperwork for the producer.

“The producer, Jennica Schwartzman, contacted me in the spring and said there were four to six positions perfect for students. I let my cinema students know through Facebook and email. Then it was up to them to contact her,” Snediker said

“This has been such a great opportunity for me,” said Morse. “I am learning so much working on a professional film, and I think I love production work. I never thought I would say that, but I love the organization and paperwork the producing side involves.”

Holbrook, who was hired as boom operator, enjoys working with a professional crew.

“It’s really great, but a lot of hard work,” he said. “Literally, we wake up, go to shoot, go home for a late dinner and go to sleep. We have 12-15-hour days.”

Coming from the University, Holbrook said, Snediker prepared him well for working on a professional film set.

“I was very familiar with all the gear they’re using,” he said. “I know the terminology and set etiquette.”

Snediker said, “The more experience you have, the more people you meet, the better it is. It’s important to network.”

Both Morse and Holbrook said they are learning a lot through this film.

“I am watching people’s processes and set-up methods,” Holbrook said. “I hope to keep working on films like this to learn the different departments, such as sound, lighting and camera, to find what I like best.”

“One of the benefits of these opportunities is to see a real world film experience,” Snediker said.

“Getting hired and being a part of this scared me a little,” Morse said. “But overall I’m just really excited. I really appreciate learning all this so I can do it again in the future.”

The film, “Gordon Family Tree,” tells the story of an architect from a successful family who takes a road trip and learns what true success in life is. Two prominent TV actors, one from “Psych” and one from “Home Improvement,” represent a part of the cast.

Morse said that Schwartzman is compiling a notebook of how to film in northwest Arkansas for any future filmmakers that travel out from Hollywood.

“Her dream is to inspire a film community here,” Morse said. “She loves this area and wants to share it with the film community in California.”

Holbrook said a director from Los Angeles visited last week and is considering filming his project in northwest Arkansas this spring.

“I am very exited about the possibility of more films in the area,” Holbrook said. “It’s important to get real experience on films. This would make it possible for us to get that experience without the trouble of trying to get out to California.”