by Emilia Tse '11
An internship on the film Cherry - large portions of which were filmed on the Kalamazoo College campus in the fall of 2008 - offered this student a similar experience to that of the successful "K" externship. There was hands-on work, job shadowing, question-and-answer opportunities, and a "film" family to join during the film crew's stay in Kalamazoo. "Porch time" - an externship's informal exchange between the extern student and the alumni host - happened for me on set during a rainy night at the house down Academy Street the film directors had rented for some location shots and film editing.
I first learned that Cherry would film in part at "K" during a Resident Assistant (RA) training lunch prior to fall quarter. I wanted to participate. And I was already registered for Instructor Dhera Strauss' documentary film class, so it seemed to be a good time to learn about and observe filmmaking. At the first informational meeting for Cherry, I met Bill Komissaroff, or "BK," the extras and intern coordinator. I was ready to help in any way possible but figured my contribution would be limited to office work. And so it began - answering phone calls and updating the crew list. But two days later, BK asked if I could be his assistant, and my responsibilities grew - round up extras, organize the featured extras selection, and schedule extras and interns.
Assisting BK enabled me to be more involved with Cherry and the film family. I had been acquainted with the producers (Paul Kurta, Sam Kitt, and Matt Fine) and the director (Jeff Fine) in the office, but once pre-production was over, we were mostly on set and chatting with each other during takes. Extras Holding was my primary location; however, I was also able to watch the crew work by participating as an extra or standing next to Jeff and looking at the monitor. Jeff even added a line in the script for me to say. During my "scene," I wore PJs and stood outside the main character's dorm building, with a fire engine and real fire fighters as a backdrop during the wee hours of the morning.
Working on the set became part of my daily routine. I was a full-time student, an RA, writing consultant in the College's student writing center, and Cherry intern. I adjusted to eating my lunch at 5 PM and dinner at midnight. Later in the shooting schedule, BK went home for a few days and I took on more responsibility for extras needed during a night shoot in downtown Kalamazoo across from Crow's Nest. While I was in charge of extras and carrying around my own walkie talkie, I also picked up on crew etiquette and lingo. The second assistant director (or second A-D) once asked me over the walkie talkie, "What's your twenty?" I responded with something like, "No, I only have eighteen extras here." There was some good chuckling among the crew; one's "twenty" is one's location.
When the shooting schedule was drawing to a close, Jeff Palmer, the College's media relations manager and the link between the film crew and "K," asked if I would be interested in observing some post-production work on Cherry. YES! By this time I had some familiarity with Final Cut Pro, the editing software we used in my documentary film class, and I had filmed my own behind-the-scenes movie about the Cherry production, with Jeff Fine's permission. Then, both Jeff Fine, the director, and Cindy Parissotto, the editor, invited me to stay with them in Los Angeles during part of the editing process. I was just ecstatic! Jeff Palmer even helped me book my flight during finals week so that I could go to LA over the winter break.
In LA, I felt even more a part of the Cherry film family. I stayed at Cindy's home. Matt Fine also flew out to LA while I was there. I was able to hang out with Cindy and the Fine brothers as they went over the director's cut of the film. We also had a screening of Cherry with producer Sam Kitt. It was an unbelievable experience to see the film for the first time. I had never been part of a project of that scale before; I witnessed film making from pre-production through post-production. Just for fun, Cindy put my name in the opening credits for that first viewing. After
"During my 'scene' I wore PJs and stood outside the main character's dorm building ..."getting more notes on adjustments to make for the film, Cindy went back to work editing. She let me look on while she worked with Final Cut Pro and even let me help select background music and provide input on the timing of a sound effect. One night, Jeff's wife Diane took me to see a play at the Taper Theatre. I really got a feel for the city and Diane, a screenwriter and producer, talked with me about getting into the film business. Touring LA with Matt and Jeff the next day was a blast. And that night Sam Kitt invited all of us to have dinner at his house along with other producers, director of photography, some of the actors, editor, and their families. It was so nice to be able to keep in touch with everyone and see how the post-production process was going.
My first trip to LA was both exciting and inspiring. I am indebted to the Cherry crew for taking me in and treating me with such warmth and friendship. Kalamazoo provided me a once- in-a-lifetime opportunity by allowing filmmakers on our campus. My experience at "K", especially in regards to this film, has encouraged me to find my passion and has helped me foster connections with professionals in my chosen field. I hope that everyone who participated in the filmmaking process, the students and even some faculty, enjoyed their time working on Cherry. I know that the Fine brothers wanted the filming to be an opportunity for students to have a hands-on experience and it certainly was. I am sure we are all looking forward to Cherry's premiere, sometime in the late fall of 2009. Thank you to all of the Cherry crew for filming on "K's" campus: and thank you to "K" College staff and faculty for bringing this opportunity to life.
Emilia Tse took some time in LA to explore Hollywood and the Chinese Theatre.
Pictured (l-r) in the extras holding area are: Kristaps Butler '11, Nina Young '09, Emelia Tse, and Joan Miller '09.
Post production work took Emilia Tse to Los Angeles, where she worked with film editor Cindy Parissotto.