Make The Most Of It
By Tara McHugh
Before coming to Los Angeles, I knew that production is my favorite part of the filmmaking process but I had never worked on a professional set. Over the past three months I have worked on a feature film, a web series, a music video, and a short film.
My first PA gig was for a film called “Flipped”. It was a one day, unpaid gig but I was more than thrilled just to have the opportunity to be there. Over the course of the day I assisted with craft services, set dressing, and set breakdown. The director had me be a stand-in for the lead actress, and it was then that I learned the term “hit your mark”. I was also an extra in the film – the lead actor bumps into me at one point!
The web series I worked on is called “The Wake Up Show Unplugged” which features up-and-coming rap artists from all across the country as they freestyle with a live band. I am an avid fan of live music so the energy on set was simply incredible. In addition to running memory cards to the DIT station, my primary role was slating in between each artist’s performance. Sway (MTV personality and co-host of The Wake Up Show radio show) even gave me my own personal rap name: Tara the Terror. You can watch the show now on YouTube.
A few weeks later, I was the Associate Producer on Luke Conard’s music video for “If”. I helped make call sheets and had all of the talent sign release forms. When we shot on-location at a cemetery, I was in charge of the permit. I was also used as an extra in the funeral scene. It was a very fun 2-day shoot where I learned a lot, but most importantly I experienced the connection that a cast and crew can develop over such a short period of time. It was also my first paid gig!
As amazing as those experiences were, nothing can compare to my most recent job on the set of a short film called “Intersection”. The producer is my supervisor at my internship so she brought me onto the project. Over the course of five days and three locations across the Californian desert, I worked as the 2nd Assistant Camera and Production Assistant. It is a SAG signatory project, so we worked with professional actors. It was also my first time interacting with a professional make-up artist, wardrobe supervisor, art director, and Steadicam operator. There was even an animal trainer! Once again, I was able to bond with each of the people that worked on the project. I know that the connections I made with the crew are ones that will help me in my post-college career.
My advice to anyone looking to take part in the SULA semester is to get out here and get your hands dirty. You’re only here for a semester so make the most of it. If you have the opportunity to have more than one internship, do it. It’s a little overwhelming at times, but it’s absolutely doable. When you’re at your internship(s), make a strong effort to get involved with as much as possible, especially if it’s something that interests you. It will open doors for you. I knew that I wanted to work on set, so I made it happen. I was only brought onto “Intersection” because I proved myself through other projects at my internship. If you’re constantly working hard and building relationships, people will help you out. And last but not least, NEVER take the 405 on your way home from work.