Filming a 480: My Experience on Set

Samantha Kaplan-2015 Best of LA, Viterbi Life Leave a Comment

Although I’m a Mechanical Engineering major, I’m a Cinematic Arts minor, and one of my favorite things to do is work on a film set.  Last semester, one of my friends in my Special Effects class asked me to crew his film for his CTPR-310 Production class.  This was my first time crewing a student film, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity.  On set, I worked as a Grip, which is a position that works under the Director of Photography and deals mainly with lighting and electricity.  This semester, I was invited back to his set to work on his CTPR-480 film, which he is producing.

My first day on set was this Saturday.  The set was located in Hollywood just off of Melrose, and it had a perfect view of the Hollywood sign:

I worked on set again as a Grip.  My role was to help light the set, so I worked closely with the Director of Photography to understand how to adjust the lights so that the shot matched the vision of the director.  Additionally, I worked to put together the dolly track and make sure that it was level enough to get an even shot.  I was involved in the setup of each shot, and the shoot went from 7AM until 4PM.  I’ll be back on set for the next 3 weekends on Saturday and Sunday from 7AM-7PM each day.  It’s a huge commitment (I even had to miss a Trojan football game to be there!), but I absolutely love working on a set, so it’s worth the time for me.

Being on set makes me so thankful that I chose to come to USC.  I was always interested in art as a supplement to Engineering, and when I visited USC they promised that I would be able to pursue interests outside of Mechanical Engineering.  Thankfully, this promise was not a lie, and I have been able to foster my passion for film and visual communication.  The wonderful thing about USC is that I am getting an amazing Engineering education at Viterbi, but I am also taking classes at the number 1 film school in the world.  Each academic discipline at USC is impressive and rigorous, which ensures that no matter what program I choose to pursue, I am receiving the best possible preparation for a career in that field.  While I cannot be exactly sure what I will do when I leave USC (other than cry because I don’t get to go to school here anymore), I would love to somehow combine my passions of Engineering and Film and work in the film industry creating technology for production studios.  This will be a difficult role to land, but I feel confident that my education here at USC will prepare me to be as competitive as possible in the job search process.

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